Showrooms and other non-essential shops have been given the green light by the government to re-open on the 15th June, obviously with restrictions.
What people may not take into consideration is what has been happening in the Interior Design/Construction industry throughout the lockdown and what repercussions are going to be felt for a long time to come.
During the lockdown we have been able to design and specify, have client meetings over Zoom – but what then?
The design has been agreed, the specification done. What we need now is our design to be manufactured and built. This has been our biggest challenge during the lockdown but coming out and going forward is not going to be any easier for a long while yet.
Factories and manufactures are re-opening BUT they now have to practice social distancing which means output will be drastically reduced, not made better by a very large backlog. Getting materials has been really very difficult. A kitchen that should have been installed weeks ago is certainly impacted by not being able to be installed but if the materials such as hinges, wood, laminates and lights are just simply not available, then the lead times, and therefore the budget, are seriously impacted. We import a lot of materials and the rest of the world has been suffering the same if not worse than the UK, so getting something as simple as a toilet bowl is impossible. Why? Most of them are made in Italy and Spain. If a price for the goods and the time taken to implement the design has been quoted to the client, then who pays for the uplift caused by all these elements which are totally out of the Designer’s control?
The Interior Design Industry is going to find making a living going forward a huge challenge. At the end of the day, we are in business and the client’s do need to consider our challenges, but it is very difficult when the client is probably having similar worries. Interior Designers want the best for their clients and try very hard to get the best outcome with the available budget but with ever moving goal posts, this is a hard ask.
Six months ago, who would have thought a UK shortage of plaster would have given me sleepless nights!
With the ever changing climate and changes in how things are being provided, the construction, architecture, and Interior Design world will have to work with them. I can see already that clients who are looking to renovate rather than move, are looking to help to improve their homes, but need to be conscious of the budget and timescales during this time. We want to work together as an industry to help clients with their projects, as well as keep everyone safe.