KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for March, 2018

Mar 30 2018

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Lessons from the Design Bloggers Conference


The Design Bloggers Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif. this month drew hundreds of designers, entrepreneurs, journalists and others interested in unraveling the intricacies of what makes a blog a true business asset. They also covered how to create an effective social media marketing plan. Here’s some advice from the experts:

Be Serendipitous

Algorithms — those pieces of data that tell social media sites like Facebook an Instagram what you “like,” share and click on for more information — help expose us to more of the great things we love. The caveat, however, is that they also tend to weed out the posts that don’t fit into our “like” patterns. That in turn creates a narrow, highly-focused vision, eliminating exposure to different points of view and options for staying open-minded and well-rounded.

According to Adam Japko, founder of Esteem Media and the Design Bloggers Conference, this is why influencer marketing is taking off. Just let things be serendipitous and allow the unexpected to happen.

Build Collaborative Relationships

Build a network of professionals you can rely on, including photographers, trades, designers, trade associations, manufacturers and publishers. Provide each other recommendations and leads.

Chances are, if you are kind and easy to work with, you will be sought out by other professionals, thus creating a strong team in your design community.

Build Additional Income Streams

With technology at our fingertips, there are so many options for generating additional income streams. For instance, creating a blog provides opportunities to advertise manufacturers and brands, feature sponsored content, link to affiliate companies, provide advice columns and create eDesign for clients.

Stand Out

Find your unique story to stand out and capitalize on that as part of your branding efforts. Brands leveraging philanthropic initiatives are trusted, memorable and respected among all. Look at ways to connect your brand with something that gives back in a meaningful way.

At the conference, we learned about Savvy Designs, a company creating magical spaces for ill children enduring major challenges at a young age, and Save Iconic Architecture, a group that protects and preserves iconic architecture in California.

You can also look to create your own unique story promoting your specialty — what really makes you special. Do you have a story to tell with color? Are you specialized in small spaces, childproofing, yacht design or historic homes? Identify what differentiates you and play up these strengths.

Embrace the Evolution of Technology

Adapting to social strategies, algorithms and platforms is a way of the future — but remember, nothing is forever.

Be prepared for disruption. It is inevitable and will continue to happen. We’re all in this together, so ask for help!

Visit https://nkba.org/info/2018/03/5-tips-elevating-business for more information.

Mar 26 2018

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Why It’s Important to Have a Great Plumbing Supplier

So you’re a kitchen and bathroom designer, you went to KBIS, and you saw all these amazing fixtures you want use. Or, you just signed your first kitchen/bathroom client, and you are wanting to find the best fixtures for them. Many designers head online to purchase fixtures or order them through a company that sells fixtures. Me? I head to my plumbing showroom, and here’s why.

For my first kitchen, my client indicated that they wanted a granite sink. I went online and found what I thought was a good one on a big-box site. I ordered it and took it over to my client’s home. Days later, he asked for the flange and the disposal switch, and I had completely forgotten to purchase those. Had I specified the sink through my plumbing supplier, my rep would have asked me the question about the flange, etc. Also, I later discovered that she had a professional-grade granite sink that came with a better warranty for my client.

Then there was the time I specified a wand and an overhead shower for a client’s bathroom, and she wanted to use each separately and then use them together. Guess what? Because of the recent drought in California, the code has changed, and that’s no longer allowed. Do you know who I learned that from? My plumber supplier, who had just taken a course on it.

Of course, there have been many times I’ve walked in with a specific budget, and my plumbing supplier has been able to steer me in the direction of a line that would fit the overall design but still allow my client to buy soap and towels for the bathroom or kitchen. I could continue to list reasons to find yourself a great plumbing supplier, but you get the gist!

By Sarah C. Wilson, Chansaerae Designs, LLC

Mar 23 2018

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Smart Home Transparency and Trust

If you have smart devices in your home like a speaker or an appliance, then you have given permission to a tech company to share your data. Consumers have given a level of trust to tech companies up until now, but that may all be changing. The loss of trust and lack of transparency by Facebook will likely have far-reaching effects – maybe none more than in the home automation and smart technology industry – which is just in its infancy.

Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Siri and Samsung Bixby smart assistants all share personal data with app developers; it’s part of their user agreements. Some user agreements like Houzz give ownership rights of your data to themselves – forever. Appliance companies like Samsung mine personal data from your smart devices like your refrigerator, washer/dryer and TV. In 2015, Samsung warned its SmartTV customers that every word they say in the same room as their SmartTV is being captured and sent over the Internet.

Facebook and Instagram and other social media companies pass your personal data on to other entities, such as app developers, and you agreed to this in the user agreement. In some cases, an honor system is in place between the software company and the app developer about sharing users’ data.

We now know that the self-monitoring system isn’t working out, and tech companies’ sharing of personal data needs to be regulated. Facebook and their “partner” Cambridge Analytica, a data mining company, have misused personal data of 50 million Facebook users. Facebook has known about this issue for a long time but didn’t share it until this past weekend. This lack of transparency has compounded the negativity of the misuse of personal data, and Facebook today is in crisis mode.

This Facebook debacle will hopefully shine a light on the need for a personal data bill of rights in the U.S. This is particularly important for home automation and smart kitchens, since this data is about our most personal and intimate details of home life.

Mark Zuckerberg is being asked to appear in the U.S. and the U.K. to answer for the misuse in sharing of the personal data of 50 million people. The European Union has a law on the books that will take effect on May 25, 2018. The U.S. has no one law – instead we have many laws, and some conflict others.

Without up-to-date laws in place to guarantee the rights of individuals regarding their own personal data, the home automation industry might find itself in a situation like the one Facebook finds itself in today. It’s time to open up dialogues about user rights and user agreements. It’s time to talk about and do something about trust and transparency in the home automation industry.

By Scott Koehler, Dream Kitchen Builders

Mar 19 2018

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Uniting Built and Natural Environments

By Julie Schuster

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the country’s leading governmental infrastructure initiative. It correctly asserts that: “Decisions about how and where we build our communities have significant impacts on the natural environment and on human health. Cities, regions, states and the private sector need information about the environmental effects of their land use and transportation decisions to mitigate growth-related environmental impacts and to improve community quality of life and human health.”

This philosophy doesn’t just apply to building developers and urban planners. As interior designers, we too have a professional responsibility to find ways to best unite built and natural environments – for our clients and for Mother Nature herself.

Some of my favorite practical interior design strategies for integrating built and natural environments include:

Following Nature’s Lead. Interiors should be designed with humans in mind. It is a Biophilic Design principle that people feel most comfortable in spaces that follow nature’s lead rather than monochromatic bubbles. Our common desire for hardwood floors is a subconscious human yearning for replication of the forest floor. Hence, the ground should be darkest, like a path; mid-range eye-level colors should be neutral and the ceiling should be light like the sky.

               Schuster suggests reflecting a forest in the colors of a room.

Using Renewable Materials. It goes without saying that using renewable materials in your interior design is beneficial for the environment. But did you know that building materials that have been harvested from the earth are also extremely durable and cost effective? Cork and granite are two of my favorite renewable materials to work with. Cork, which is made from the bark of cork trees, is very springy and resistant to damage. Granite is the hardest and most dense natural stone which helps maintain luster and resist staining.

Furnishing Thoughtfully. Furniture made from natural materials like rattan, wicker and hemp channel the outdoor world and are easy on the environment. Another eco-friendly idea is to purchase vintage furniture which lends itself to a beautiful, eclectic feel.

                                 Donna Dotan Photography Inc.

Layering in Greenery. Indoor plants are a fantastic representation of Feng Shui wood energy – instantly bringing interiors to life while simultaneously purifying the air we breathe. Consider clustering small plants in groups at staggered levels to give a sense of natural depth and balance.

                                Plants naturally clean the air in a home.

Prioritizing Natural Colors. Once your home is filled with renewable materials, natural fabrics and greenery, it’s important to ensure a natural color palette is used for the remainder of the space. Neutral colors with subtle variations work a charm and allow greater flexibility for accent colors later down the track. Remember, Mother Nature never goes out of style!

Implementing Considered Lighting Design. Sunlight is a crucial and all too often forgotten component of natural design. It’s also my favorite energetic disinfectant. In addition to letting the light shine in whenever possible, consider natural fiber window treatments, soft/warm light bulbs, unobtrusive fixtures and recessed lighting.

By viewing the outdoors as an extension of the home, you too can find design inspiration in the natural world and bring that powerful, organic inspiration indoors.

Julie Schuster is an active member of the New York City Design Community. In 2014 she helped establish the Interior Design Society’s (IDS) New York City Chapter, spearheading the group’s formation as the chapter’s president. Julie also works closely, and engages enthusiastically as a member of International Furnishings & Design Association (IFDA) and the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). Schuster is also a proud member of the Kitchen and Bath Business Advisory Board and the Robern (Bathroom) Brand Ambassadors.