How to Design Remotely

Published: March 23, 2020

With probably a long haul of social distancing in front of us, industry professionals are innovating the way they communicate with clients, contractors and each other. Fortunately, technology is stepping up and supplying that essential communication the industry needs to keep going, and we are evolving with different business strategies. KBB has been in continuous talks with design professionals and manufacturers around North America to find out how they are continuing to do business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Keeping Clients Engaged

“My construction and furnishing projects were completed in January, and I am just starting some new consultations on a master bathroom and a kitchen remodel. We have been communicating by phone and email, and right now, and my clients’ first and foremost priorities are resettling their families at home for school and work and staying safe and healthy. We have put these projects on hold for the time being, and we are going to see how things go.”

Sheryl Steinberg, Sheryl Steinberg Interior Design LLC, Bethesda, Md.

“I have been keeping my clients interested by communicating with them by phone, Facetime and Skype. Many are distancing themselves but are in the middle of construction and do not want things to stop, but they understand the importance of social distancing.”

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Corinne Enslin, Corinne Enslin Interior Design, Los Angeles

“Part of what we are doing to keep potential customers engaged is to put the focus on a product attribute that best serves them during this crisis. Proper hand-washing and improved hygiene practices can truly help make a difference in the fight against this pandemic.”

Lauren Wall, creative director and brand manager, Principle Faucets, Roseville, Calif.

Tools & Techniques

“I can meet with a client no matter where they live and go over their design virtually through a site like UberConference. The other day a client I have never met hired me to work virtually with him on his lighting design for his new home in California, and we used this conferencing to go over details on the plan. is another design editing tool that allows me to do graphics for promotion on social media or images for my blog.”

Patricia Davis Brown, Patricia David Brown Designs LLC, Vero Beach, Fla.

“I, along with my fellow front office management support staffers, have been working remotely safely and effectively from our homes over the last week-plus period. Tools that help our workflow include Slack, VPN network, Google Docs and Microsoft Office Suite.

Richard Caplan, director of marketing, Aston Global, Dallas

“Remote design work has always been part of my process. Much can be done by utilizing the telephone, along with files hosted on Google Drive or Dropbox that are shared with clients ahead of time to prepare for teleconferences. I think that folks sometimes shun the telephone for actual conversations, but honestly it still works as an effective tool for communication. Other tools recently used include Zoom for video calls, Instagram (also for video calls and file sharing) and email.”

– Michael Kaestner, Kaestner Design, Philadelphia

“I have been thinking about sending an email to past clients, encouraging people that since builders are booked out at least six months, it’s never too early to start the design and estimating process so we can be ready to engage a builder.”

Paula Kennedy, Timeless Kitchen Design, Seattle

Ways the Business Has Already Changed – & Will Change

“We have shifted focus to a different attribute of our product. This product was originally created to save water, first and foremost.  To us, the improved hygiene benefit was secondary. It’s important we present to the customer what is most relevant to the current climate.

Wall, Principle Faucets

“I think this global pandemic is going to be a game-changer on so many levels, and every business is going to have to look at their current structure, business model and manufacturing and make changes, using new technology, manufacturing facilities and innovations that we will integrate and thus introduce to our clients.”

Steinberg, Sheryl Steinberg Interiors

“We have stepped up our care and concern of our warehouse and fulfillment teams that will continue to diligently and accurately process and ship all orders. Rest assured, we are taking all measures possible to keep our warehouse facilities a safe, spacious environment – and all team members have been advised to practice social distancing. High-touch areas and all equipment have been receiving additional spraying with disinfectant treatment, and night-time cleaning efforts have also been ramped up. Gloves, masks and sanitary gear are available to all.”

Caplan, Aston Global

What to Do with Any Extra Time

“I’ve been updating my website, updating all my programs like AutoCAD, SketchUp, Photoshop to their latest versions, cleaning out my virtual and physical files and cleaning out my office and studio spaces.”

Steinberg, Sheryl Steinberg Interiors

“We are still keeping busy during this tough time. That includes quoting, following up, warehouse inventory and installations, etc. I think people are now sitting in their houses with nowhere to go, and they’re looking around thinking to themselves, ‘Well if I’m stuck here, I may as well make it look good.’”

Michele Valentino-Skezas, business development, Superb Surfaces, Elk Grove Village, Ill.

“I am focusing on digital brand awareness and exposure and connecting with my clients, vendors and suppliers to build my relationships personally, even stronger.”

Enslin, Corinne Enslin Interior Design

“I am marketing my current model homes on social media since our season is null and void. I am not sure if this pandemic will push the season back or if it is totally lost. Not knowing this, it is important to the luxury home community that I represent to keep the project fresh in the minds of potential homeowners. I also have several ongoing projects, and the guys are still in the field working, so I am working with them to keep the projects going. I also have homeowners I am currently working with, and I need to stay on schedule by getting orders in, so that when business resumes, we are sitting in a good position.”

Brown, Patricia Davis Brown Design

“During this time, I am balancing my own efforts on working with our sales teams who continue conducting business virtually and digitally. I am also heavily integrated in the process of rolling out hundreds of new frameless shower products to our preferred home improvement and décor retailers. I also continue to communicate with media outlets regarding new products and how we are handling business during this integral yet sensitive part of history.”

Caplan, Aston Global

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