Contract Upholstery Fabric – How to Specify It

Here is a VERY quick guide to specifying contract fabrics. Contract Fabrics 101 if you like. It shows you the main areas you need to consider.

1. Determine Use

Is it panelling or seating? for the latter you will need to consider flammability (cigarette, match and crib 5) and abrasion (Martindale)

2. Fabric Composition

The composition of the fabric including the yarn and weave will affect the fabric’s long term wear, appearance and technical performance.

Natural fabrics such as wool can be more expensive but generally offer good feel and technical characteristics such as natural flame retardancy.

Man-made fabrics usually are more easily cared for but can look cheap if not properly chosen.

3. Flammability

The single standard for contract seating which is acceptable throughout the EU is EN 1021 Parts 1 and 2 (cigarette and match). Higher level standards in the UK are BS 5852 and BS 7176.

The standard which applies to vertical surface fabrics is BS 476 Part 7.

4. Abrasion

You should be looking at the Martindale properties of the fabric. <Here> is more information on the Martindale rub test.

5. Environmental Considerations

Generally natural fibres like wool are good. And man-made ones less so, NYLON is not great.

6. Care and maintenance

Generally contract fabrics will look bad because of dirt rather than because they wear out. So follow the manufacturers instructions on care and maintenance.  Basically wipe away stains quickly and vacuum clean regularly.

Black Velvet – Even Better Italian Silk Velvet In Black

Black Velvet – only to be enjoyed by those who appreciate that black is the new black! KOTHEA have a range of velvets with shades of black colourways in most of those velvet collections.

Black Diamond” is the colourway name for the Italian Silk Velvet (100% Silk Pile) with the code 777-108-900.

You can get black silk velvet samples here from KOTHEA if you are a trade professional. Just click the link.

KOTHEA velvets are the best in the market. We only sell top market fabrics, mostly to top European Interior Designers and Architects. Here are some more bits of technical information on our black Italian Silk velvet fabric:

Width: 140cm

Composition: 100% Silk Pile

No repeat, plain.

Abrasion: Martindale 20,000.

Available from stock, normal delivery within 5 days.

Minimum Order length: 2m

Cashmere Throws – Luxury Refined From KOTHEA

Cashmere is the most exclusive wool practically available for interiors use. It is sometimes called Pashmina, and a few other things, but essentially Cashmere is what the wool really is and it rarely comes from Kashmir!

There are one or two wools that are possibly ‘better’ (ie warmer or softer) but they are extremely expensive (such as Vicuna). They are SO expensive and ‘rare’ that you will never come across them in reality unless you work in a very niche area of the fashion fabrics market. I have never even heard about such fabrics being available for interiors use, let alone seen or touched them. Although I would imagine it would not be dissimilar from cashmere!

Which brings me back to Cashmere Throws.

Maybe you already have a Cashmere Throw, or possibly a Cashmere scarf. They feel wonderful. It is not just marketing hype either, there are a variety of technical reasons why the Cashmere yarn makes fabrics that are warmer and softer to the touch than any other woolen yarn.

Yet there remains a huge variation in price from one Cashmere throw to the next. Why?

We have struggled to answer that question ourselves. Cashmere Throws can retail at £2,000. Yet the quality is only very good. Scarves too can easily cost several hundreds of pounds (and upwards).

So we are about to release Cashmere Throws that are better than everyone else. We are using: higher quality, thicker yarns than anyone else; sourcing our own designs, qualities and colours from the best mills.

I can guarantee that if you put one of our throws next to any competing alternative you would always choose a KOTHEA Cashmere Throw. We would even let our competitor choose the criteria that they wish to compete on! We are SO confident that our throws win on all counts.

Or you could go and buy one for £2,000 from somewhere else and be unsure that you have the best.

Dye Lot Samples vs. Stock Cuttings

What is the difference between a dye lot sample and a stock cutting?

In the UK those phrases are taken to mean the same thing. But that is not universally true so I will explain.

When you as an interior designer are about to place an order you need to get a cutting which you keep in your records stating exactly what colour the fabric will be. So you need a cutting from the exact roll of fabric which is going to be cut for you by the supplier. Once you have a this “dye lot sample” or “stock cutting” the onus is then on the supplier to supply you with the exact fabric.

Is this always important?

This is particularly important as the colour of many fabrics vary slightly between different batches of production. This is common across all suppliers.

Usually, however, it will not matter if your ENTIRE order comes from a roll that was different from the original sampling. The difference will be trivial and not noticed.

But if you are being supplied with more than one piece then it often DOES matter. The different rolls of fabric when made-up side-by-side can be noticeably different.

Sometimes even if the fabrics are different; the way they are made up, the lighting or where they are in a room can make the difference not noticeable.

Various technical reasons explain all of this, such as the variability of colour in man-made dyes, however designers need only know that it can and often does happen that fabrics vary slightly in their colour.

If in doubt obtain a dye lot sample/stock cutting.

Facebook – Advanced Pages For Interior Designers

Once you have set up your Facebook (FB) Fan Page for your business so that it looks and feels ‘right ‘ then it’s time to take it to the next level. So if you are at that point, read on. If not go <here>.

Note: Before you start make sure you will be working on your business page (fan page) and not your personal page. You really should be using a business page (fan page), be sure what one is before continuing as lots of people go down the wrong route and then have to start all over again, FB is not very forgiving in that respect.

OK I’m going to look at Branding, Promoting, Enhanced Navigation & Content. These are the main areas to add a bit of spice to your FB Fan Page/Business Page.

1. BRANDING.

a. You need a 200 pixels wide x 600 pixels high image of your brand. Maybe you have a logo, if so use that. Upload this to the area to the left of where it says “Wall”.
b. Header. This goes above where it says “Wall”. Change the text here so that it has your company name. What if you get the name wrong? Well if you get the name wrong you cannot change it, so you have to delete the page and start again (as at Feb 2010). So please get it right first time.

c. The same applies to the category of your page, that cannot be changed either. So when you create your page get the category right.
d. If your company is called XYZDesigns then you need http://facebook.com/XYZDesigns as your url. This article <here> tells you how to do that.

2. PROMOTING

 

a. You probably already understand groups on LinkedIn. Well Facebook (FB) has them as well. Start one or use existing ones like Interior Design Lovers (requires you to be logged in to FB). Promote your page in groups. BUT DO NOT SELL, SELL, SELL. Let people know about the information your FB page will provide them with. Remember further that few people are interested in your business per se, they are more interested in what it can do for them. So talk about solving problems and NOT saying how great you/your services are. The sell-sell way does not usually work.

b. User comments. Engage with your fans, reply to them. Promote yourself to these people and remember that they are already on your page and are taking the time to write something, probably to find out something, so they have more than a passing interest in what you do. Again soft-sell not a hard sell. Try to help them.

c. Facebook Advertising.

You may have tried Google AdWords advertising or the Yahoo and Microsoft equivalents (they are each very similar to one another). Maybe they have worked for you, maybe not. Facebook also allows you to advertise your services. They take a slightly different approach to the other 3 by targeting the FB user base. I particularly like how you can be much more specific about the region and demographics of the person you are targeting; FB also tell you how many people are in the demographics you specify. Worth a look especially for Interior Designers who are targeting the general public rather than other businesses. I will not go into this area in any more depth yet as it really comes under ‘advertising’ rather than building a better FB page for your business.

d. Make sure the information about your business on the left-hand side really stands out. Get some good, engaging and genuine words about your company there.

3. ENHANCED NAVIGATION

 

a. You can administer your FB business page (fan page) <here>. You need to be an administrator of your business fan page.

b. Go to the wall. At the top of the left-hand column you will see ‘edit page’. Go there and then choose “Wall Settings: Edit”. Change the default view to the correct page that you want a user to land on, could be your wall, could be your info page. This can be changed later if you make a mistake.

4. CONTENT

 

This is what will make people come back to your site. It’s really, really important! So you will need to have some new ‘stuff’ on your FB page to make it worth their while to return. That ‘stuff’ could be new videos, articles or whatever. it could also be the content of communication and engagement with like-minded design professionals working together to solve problems online…

The most obvious route is through your blog. You can display your blog as the ‘wall’ for your business page. You have a few options for example:

  • Write your blog (the original content) in FB and post it everywhere else automatically from FB. You can even write your blog by accessing Facebook from your blackberry.
  • Get your external blog synchronised into FB automatically (I use a free FB application called Social RSS and my blog is on WordPress)
  • I prefer the second approach as WordPress also automatically publishes my blog posts to other sources such as Twitter. Apparently there is a FB Fan Page-to-Twitter application but I do not use that, sorry!
  • Encourage your fans to add content (photos, etc.). That makes your job easier and makes your site content-rich for others.

Designers: What to Twitter / Tweet About

It's Me Again
It’s Me Again (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Really, I’m not interested in what you had for breakfast, nor what the weather is. If you want to be followed by people who are not decision makers then ‘your breakfast’ or ‘which train you are currently on’ is a great thing to Tweet about. But that’s not what you want is it?

So…

1. Automatically Tweet your blog posts once a week – that’s a great way to start. If  you use a WordPress hosted blog (like this one) it’s just a case of ticking a box and you are done.

Or

2. Every day just go through your suppliers. As a designer you have lots of them. Tweet a compliment about a DESIGN RELATED supplier &/or one of their products/services.

Or

3. Maybe tweet a promotion

Remember

4. Tweets are eventually deleted from the net. So you don’t have to worry about keywords too much. If you are writing a blog post then that post will be permanent and the keywords in it are important. So with your Tweets just keep it simple, interesting and professional. Think “interesting narrative”.

But would you…

5. Tweet about your competitors? Sure if you want to help publicize their work (??) and sure if they reciprocate and Tweet back.

Facebook For Interior Designers: 7 Steps To Get Started

Now consumed Become a fan on facebook http://w...
Now consumed Become a fan on facebook http://www.tomtolkien.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This article tells interior designers how to setup a business page for their interior design business on Facebook.If you sell to the general public then the consensus amongst marketing professionals is that your marketing strategy must include Facebook. Facebook will work to promote your services through your network and through the networks of your network members.

If you sell to businesses (eg if you are a hospitality interior designer specialising in restaurants) then I’m not convinced that Facebook is the best medium. However, and its a big however, many of your clients will be using Facebook already so maybe you should use it to help them consume the information that you produce and to help them interact with your organisation in a way that suits them. It’s not what is easiest for you that should be the way forwards, it should be what is the easiest for your (potential-) clients.

Click To Read More Interior Design Articles
Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

Let’s get started then. Here’s what you need to do and it will cost you nothing other than time:

1. Create a personal Facebook account if you don’t already have one. If you have one, use the one you have.

2. Create a business page for your business – sometimes called a fan page. Listen up here!

  • Don’t create another personal page.
  • Don’t create a group – you don’t need to know what one is.
  • Create a business(or fan) page: http://www.Facebook.com/pages/create.php

Make a note of your default business page ie the URL that Facebook gives you. KOTHEA’s is http://www.facebook.com/pages/London-United-Kingdom/KOTHEA/129265851209/ and yours will be similar, make sure that Continue reading “Facebook For Interior Designers: 7 Steps To Get Started”

6 Things That Interior Designers Do Wrong On Their Web Sites

website is down
website is down (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Great Web Sites are important for Interior Designers. Often they are just too great-looking and neglect to do a proper all-round job.

As an Interior Designer you have a web site for numerous reasons, those reasons will almost exclusively be related to sales & marketing.

Your web site must personify your brand at its highest level, it should probably showcase your work and maybe it should showcase some of the talents of your most trusted and valued staff. It must look wonderful.

So far so good?

Click To Read More Interior Design Articles
Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

I can show you many sites where Interior Designers have done just that. They have produced the most amazing works of art almost.

But why? I’m not saying it is wrong to do that I ‘m just asking why have you focused all your efforts on creating a work of art? Who exactly is going to see it? Where is the audience to your work of art? Who is the audience? What is the purpose?

Often the web design agency have made matters worse. Their creative staff have wanted to do just that; be creative. There is much merit in creativity but only as part of what your customers are looking for.

Maybe the web site has to look good to make your staff or management proud of working in your organisation. That’s a valid reasons too, in part.

Has anyone considered your potential customers? Your existing customers? Has anyone considered at what moments in the customer’s decision making process they are likely to look at any given part of  your web site? Definitely not in many cases.

Ask: “How have your (potential-) customers got your web site address?” If it is from your business cards then the role your web site should play at that time is to support the image, the brand journey you have already started to create with them. If the customer is a longstanding one then they may visit your web site as a sort of post-purchase gratification – maybe they want the project you did for them showcased to the world? If it is a potential customer, that you have not yet even contacted, then they have probably got your web address from a search engine. They will need some degree of showcasing BUT these potential new clients are looking for information, something to make them more interested in your company and they need something to make them be reassured of, and desirous for, your services.

So you’ve probably done a lot right in creating a tool to help the sales process along but you have probably not also created a marketing tool that plays a significant enough role in new lead generation.

What, in detail, have you done wrong then? (not you, sorry, those other interior designers!). Most of these are really very important points and not just designed to make up a list:

1. Publically invisible – there are a lack of quality inbound links to your website;

2. Picture rich, Word poor – insufficient content/information on your web site, instead you have too many nice images;

3. Gorgeously bland – if you changed the name of your company on your web site to that of your biggest competitor would anyone really notice? Do you share their language? When you write in media-speak you do not differentiate your company from anybody else. You are marketing yourself in the same way as everyone else, if that is true then you are trying hard to be average!;

4. Lost in space – your site should be easily navigable, leading visitors from one thoughtful insight to the next breathtaking interior  (or at least to the contact page). On several interior designer sites I have visited the first page presented has no obvious form of navigation to suggest where to go next;

5. Even the IT guy got confused – lack of meta-tag and headings, too much flash-content that search engines cannot see at all; and

6. Hide and seek – lack of search functionality. Without search on your site you are making it as hard as possible for your potential customers to find what they want. They will be used to using a search engine for finding information – just like you are.

There are more things interior designers do wrong with their web sites but those are ones that should be rectified ASAP.

So what exactly should you do? I’ll answer that by answering the ‘mistakes’ listed above:

1. Get quality inbound links. This is a traditional PR exercise but applied to digital media rather than print media. You want links from sites with a higher page rank than your site’s page rank NOT reciprocal links. Find out what pagerank is and put some time into creating inbound links, at first play catch up by seeing what some of your best competitors do (not KOTHEA, we are not a competitor)

2. More content: describe what you do and how you do it and why you do it. Google rates your site based on this type of content rather than pretty picture content.

3. Speak in plain, conversational English. You are not a management consultant, although your client might be.

4. Get your friends or kids (even better clients) to work through your site and watch them do it without helping. Getting around should be intuitive. Also think about the term “call to action”, wherever your potential client is on your site there should be an obvious call to action, an obvious thing for them to do next such as sending you an email or telephoning you for a brochure or appointment.

5. Keep the nice flash bits if you have them but get your IT guys to talk to you about meta tags/keywords, titles, sitemaps,  and h1/h2 tags. (Actually get them to JUST talk to you about those first of all and as soon as they mention web 2.0 just glaze your eyes over and pretend you don’t want to understand! That’s next month’s marketing job for you, don’t let them distract you!). Look puzzled and concerned when they tell you why some of these technical bits are just not possible on your site (they are not being fully truthful) and then ask them why the site was designed and implemented like it was as surely that is the cause of the problem. with the exception of inbound links, all of the things on this list really should have been done when  your site was designed and built, I would almost say that if they were not done then they should be corrected for free if they were done by a paid ‘expert’.

6. Introduce site search. This can cost thousands or it can be free. It depends who you talk to!

I hope that helps. These really are genuine, important problems with many sites and not just an excuse for me to write another list. You can read more of my articles on the business of interior design <here> the articles tend to be about sales and marketing issues rather than technology though I answer questions on either!

PS: This following link is written by Google, it covers related areas of interaction between you and your potential online customer. It is more geared towards selling over the web but you will get the idea of what you should be doing by inference: http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en/landing/conversion/ebook.html