Future Outlook for Home Design Professionals

Today will not last and the next few years will serve up unanticipated territory for home design professionals

Both plague and blessing, I usually see the world like this; constantly sensing the jeopardy our current reality faces while imagining unexpected game changers ready to take hold.  With today’s great market conditions floating all boats in the luxury home design industry, it is easy to appreciate that nobody wants to hear anything about “change”.

In 2006, I asked our housing media company’s executive committee what we would do if the housing market bottom fell out. In the midst of a housing boom, they told me not to worry…it could not happen.  Shackled by a boom time reality, nobody was able to embrace impending change. In 2011/12, only 3-4 years ago, I gave talks around the country urging design professionals to look beyond the market slump and to turn up their marketing in preparation for the boom that was certainly just around the corner.  Again, it was almost impossible for anyone in the design business those years to imagine prosperity.  We were all mired in an unprecedented business slump depicted in this chart that the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) published in 2011.

Home Design Market SlumpThe following year, in 2012, the JCHS projected a market bounce to be followed by a boom period that would exceed 2007 market levels.  It was equally hard to believe this in 2012, but in retrospect the JCHS was correct.

Design Market Forecast

I was reminded about all this today when Veronika Miller, CEO of Modenus and someone who seems to also envision new futures, posted this on Facebook:

To all designer friends in the room… I have been taking stock of what so many of you have accomplished professionally (especially post recession) with major brand collabs, magazine coverage and covers, public speaking, books and so much more. I realized that, as designer, I was always one of the people that looked up to people like yourselves. Who aspired to be like you. The fact that I’ve somehow been able to befriend you and work with many of you, will never cease to amaze and humble me. Six years post recession you guys have turned this thing around!!!

We all know a lot of design pros just like the ones Veronika is talking about.  The fact is that the most successful of them were already adjusting to the future, way before we were smart enough to walk into that same future with the launch announcement of the Design Bloggers Conference in 2010. Forward thinking blog and social media content creators, self publishers, and digital collaborators got active when things looked the most bleak for housing markets. Emergent new design industry stars blossomed using new tools and digital platforms, elbow grease, and brand momentum at the leading edge of a massive market recovery. Already larger than life designers and brands became ever more flush, leveraging the internet and new media to engage a new generation of luxury consumers.  As importantly, the design industry embraced social media to connect with each other, fostering collaboration and conversation that fanned an unprecedented wave of resonant personal brands in a new age of digital branding.

I launched the Design Bloggers Conference’s inside a traditional shelter print media company in the midst of the worst housing economy since the great depression.  We suspected resumed market growth would be driven by adopters of new technology and marketing techniques.  Now, the anticipation of another shift in the status quo has all of us at Esteem Media adjusting our conference and design industry event models despite ongoing and constant growth in attending and sponsoring companies (as a related aside to this, 2016 will be the last year in Atlanta for our Design Blogger and Digital Marketing Conferences as we move onto new and interesting design markets that we will announce at the end of our March 2016 conferences in Atlanta). Some industry insiders will inevitably tell us not to mess with a good thing.  But, around the corner is a whole new reality that will impact our community’s business conditions and drive a different brand of marketing success in the luxury design industry.

threelogos copy

Since the conferences we produce only exist to help our community anticipate progress shifts in home design digital marketing and to prepare for success, we have little choice besides embracing innovation early.  In March of 2016, we will launch the Home Design Digital Marketing Summit as the most important conference we can organize this year, but as the second half of the Design and Garden Bloggers Conferences; starting Tuesday afternoon in Atlanta.  This new integral segment is part of a full week of Home Design digital marketing education and networking in Atlanta; Home & Garden Digital Marketing Week as it is coming to be known.  Some inside our community will reflexively pre-register only for the established Design Bloggers Conference, not realizing the day and a half of content for the Digital Marketing Summit is fundamental to the future success inside a changed luxury design marketing landscape for interior designers, home design retailers, national brands, architects, landscape architects, builders, PR professionals, design media, and anyone else in our industry that places value in their brand.

2015 Design Bloggers Conference

Besides the well known networking opportunities, coming to the Design Bloggers Conference this March will offer the chance to hear from India Hicks, and two other yet-to-be-announced major designers, about marketing strategies behind their paths to success.  Also, Christie Tasker, David Brian Sanders, Kelly Fallis, Robin Catalano, and Julianne Taylor, to name a few, will talk about successful blogger and brand collaborations, Instagram marketing, leveraging the new visual web, how to efficiently build brand through social media, the legal side of social media, affiliate marketing, and much more. But missing out on the Home Design Digital Marketing Week means leaving Atlanta before Monica Dodi, Cofounder of The Women’s Venture Capital Fund speaks on her firm’s investment strategies in the digital design commerce space with one of her portfolio’s CEOs Gretchen Hansen of Decorist. It would also mean missing out on Elizabeth Brown from Viyet and Anna Brockway from Chairish sharing leading edge thinking about branding through third party digital platforms, or Liza Hausman of Houzz sharing case studies of design professionals who leveraged the platform for economic benefits.  National media brands, designers, and digital marketers from all corners of the digital marketing world will speak to brand building, selling design services on the web, the realities and how-to’s of e-commerce, working with digital versions of national media brands, how top designers built their brands with digital content, leveraging third party digital platforms for success and so much more.

We are changing to enable our community, and to come to Atlanta for the Design or Garden Bloggers Conference and overlook the extra day and a half at the Digital Marketing summit would be shortchanging maximum opportunity for success. Market and marketing changes are shifting already.  Keeping stride and emerging successfully in the face of changes now upon the home design community has driven us to innovate.  I sincerely urge all of our past and future conference participants to take us up on our offer to join the future before it’s fully upon us.