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4 Ways to Transform Your Interior Design Business Through Creative Collaboration

4 ways to transform your interior design business through creative collaboration find clients for your interior design business how to collaborate with architects how to find your dream client how to get interior design clients Jan 05, 2024
4 Ways to Transform Your Interior Design Business Through Creative Collaboration

If you’re like most interior designers, you’re running your own firm and doing everything by yourself. This approach sometimes seems rewarding at first, but over time, it becomes a sure recipe for burnout.

This doesn’t mean you should give up on running your own business. However, you should know that running your business gets a lot easier when you realize you don’t have to do all the work yourself.

When you strategically collaborate with other professionals, you can see your business grow exponentially — and at a rate you hadn’t thought possible before. These collaborations benefit both parties, and you might learn something from one another, too.

How do you go about collaborating with other professionals? Here are four strategies to get you started.


1. Collaborate With Architects

Architecture might seem like a far cry from interior design. However, architects and designers ultimately work together to create a vision for a space.

You don’t have to work with an architect to successfully complete a project, but when the two of you collaborate from the start, you can combine ideas to create a space that is both beautiful and functional.

If you’ve been working on building a referral network, you might already have contact information for an architect or two. Having a robust referral network is always a good thing — it’s easy enough for you to recommend a certain architect to your clients (and for that architect to recommend you to theirs).

However, if you venture beyond just referrals, you might find more business opportunities than you’d thought possible.

When you work with an architect, you’ll likely get more clients. The process of building and designing a home or business is complex, so if a single firm offers multiple services, clients will be relieved at the opportunity to simplify the process.

When you and an architect work together, you’ll also be able to present potential clients with a broad portfolio of work. That’s a great way to stand out from your competition.

When architects and designers collaborate from the beginning, they can create truly beautiful spaces that are a cut above the rest. If you find a skilled architect to work with, and your work ends up getting significant exposure, you might be approached to work on high-profile projects as well.

It’s easy to focus so much on growing your business that you forget about growing as a designer. When you work with an architect, you each have the opportunity to learn from one another.

For example, when you work with an architect, you might start paying more attention to the structural design of each room you’re working on. Over time, you’ll learn what specific techniques work best with different types of rooms.

2. Work With Local Artisans

As an interior designer, you know that every little detail matters when you’re creating a space. The right furniture, light fixtures, rugs, and accent pieces can come together to make an ordinary project an extraordinary one.

You can find these different elements in big-box stores if you wish. However, custom and handmade pieces have a special appeal and can make the space truly one-of-a-kind.

Working with local artisans is a win-win — by choosing elements made by local people, you’ll be supporting small, local businesses. In turn, you’ll be able to offer your clients unique spaces with elements that can’t be found anywhere else.

Over time, this kind of approach can have a major positive influence on artisan businesses. If your clients love a handmade piece you’ve included in their space, they might seek out more work from the same maker (and even refer their friends to the business).

Not sure what types of artisanal pieces you should look for? Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Handmade textiles
  • Sculptures
  • Paintings and other art pieces by local artists
  • Artisan tiles
  • Custom pieces of furniture
  • Unique lamps and other light fixtures
  • High-quality woven rugs

If you’re already familiar with social media marketing strategies for interior designers, you know that working with local artisans also presents you with a fantastic cross-promotion opportunity.

For instance, if you design a space that incorporates a few pieces by a local sculptor, the sculptor could post a photo of the space on their social media channels and include a link to your firm’s website and social channels.

This way, social media users who follow the sculptor will be introduced to your work — and some of them might be considering hiring a designer! You can also post a photo of the space on your channels, including a shout-out to the sculptor and their work.

You may already know that when you use pieces made by local artisans, you’ll distinguish yourself from the competition. Most clients want their spaces to be designed with a unique, personal touch, and many people like to support local businesses when they can.

3. Partner With Real Estate Agents

This might sound highly unusual. After all, real estate agents aren’t what most people would consider creative professionals. However, clients will usually buy a home through a real estate agent before hiring an interior designer to personalize the space.

If you aren’t quite sure how to get interior design clients, you’ll need to think outside the box. Not many designers work with real estate agents — and that’s precisely why this strategy can be so effective.

If the real estate agent agrees, you could offer your design services as an add-on to the agent’s sales package. This strategy can help you reach a wider audience and get more business than you may have otherwise gotten.

Some homebuyers may not have been planning to hire an interior designer. But if they’re offered the service as an easy add-on, they might take it. If they like your work, they may recommend you to their friends — or work with you again if they choose to remodel the house!

That’s not the only way you can join forces with real estate agents. If you’re comfortable staging houses, it’s worth reaching out to agents in your area to see if they need a designer to make properties look more appealing to buyers.

If you find a realtor who likes your work and frequently does staging's, you might find a fairly reliable source of steady income.

4. Collaborate With Influencers

You can’t have a successful marketing campaign without internet and social media marketing. Marketing online goes far beyond paying to post ads on websites. One of the most effective ways to market almost any business is to team up with an influencer.

Of course, you don’t want to reach out to just any influencer. If you aren’t too familiar with social media marketing and how it works, you might not realize that every target market has its own influencers.

These influencers might not have millions of followers, but they have enough. If one of these specific influencers teams up with you, the exposure you’ll get will likely lead to more business.

Before approaching an influencer with a collaboration proposal, make sure you do your homework. Unfortunately, some “influencers” pay to inflate their follower count, so partnering with them likely won’t do you much good. Here are a few things to look for to maximize your chances of successful collaboration:

  • What Platforms They’re Active On: Instagram is especially popular with interior designers and interior influencers
  • Their Follower Count: Generally, “influencers” have a following of at least 10,000 people
  • Their Post Engagement: Is the number of users interacting with the influencer’s post proportional to their total followers?
  • Their Target Audience: Doing a deep dive into their audience will tell you if they’re reaching the same people you need to reach
  • The Styles They Promote: Choose an influencer who promotes aesthetics and design styles similar to yours — otherwise, a collaboration might seem unnatural

It’s a good idea to choose a handful of influencers you’d be willing to collaborate with. Try reaching out to them and asking them to work on a project with you. A collaboration like this is a fun way to catch the attention of their followers — and their followers might reach out to you if they need to hire a designer!

A collaboration doesn’t have to be complex. For example, if the influencer you reach is at least somewhat close to your home, you could even work together to design just one room in your house.

Many collaborations don’t involve spending any money. However, in some cases, you might have better luck if you’re willing to pay a little bit. For a fee (and often, a relatively small fee), many influencers will show off some of your work, mention your business, or even announce a special promotion just for their followers.


Want to Find Your Dream Clients Through Collaboration?

Collaboration is one way to bring in more clients, but it’s not the only way. Interior design lead generation can be a challenge for new designers, but Behind the Design is here to help.


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