It's springtime, and we're all eager for a fresh start and a change of pace - in our designs, in our businesses, and in ourselves. We can learn about how reinvention can inspire us from New York designer Bill Scroggie, who reinvented his successful design business in order to meet the demands of the new economy.
The result is Scroggie Studio. In his studio, Bill Scroggie doesn’t only provide design services; he also creates his own line of furnishings, and helps clients take a look at the furnishings they already have and then transform them into beautifully-designed rooms that are bright, fresh, and elegant.
And for interior designers and aspiring interior designers, he can provide inspiration about how to pump up your business even in a flagging economy.
“In my studio, I focus on accent furnishings that give an interior an instant injection of style. I ‘reinvent’ pieces, making them hip, chic, fun, cool . . . I take old or discarded items that have potential but need some reworking to really shine,” Scroggie says on his website.
After a career in publishing, Scroggie shifted to design. “During that time, I started creating and redoing furniture, focusing specifically on reinventing old and discarded pieces - giving them new life as fun, affordable 'vintage chic' pieces,” he said in an interview. “I started selling my work, and then some of my furniture clients began to ask for my help in decorating their apartments and homes. Those projects led to more design work, and eventually, I began to focus most of my attention on interior design. I've now been doing design work pretty much full time for the last three years.”
Scroggie believes in looking at the context of any project. “This includes the space you're working with, the client's particular style and taste, the client's budget, existing furnishings that might be incorporated into the design, the client's lifestyle, how a space will function, etc. Since every context is different, my designs can be very different. I'm constantly working in different styles,” he said.
“I like mixing modern pieces with antiques and fun vintage finds. I like accent pieces with character - a pop of color, an unexpected piece, something that makes you smile! I tend not to like interiors that are too literal or homogenous in style,” he said.
Scroggie sees the effect of the flattened economy on the design scene of New York City, just as it’s seen elsewhere in the country, even as business continues to come in.
“There are still plenty of people hiring interior designers, but there is also a little more caution and sensitivity to pricing. A lot of stores have struggled or reduced inventories. I know a lot of high-end residential design firms were hit pretty hard after 2008,” he said.
While things are picking back up, they’re still not where they were before, but he isn’t discouraged; in fact, he’s found some innovative ways to keep his business thriving. One of his methods for bringing in clients is to offer a $200 three-hour consultation, which leaves the client with concrete ideas of how to improve the look of their home without breaking the bank.
“I've always tried to provide affordable design to my clients, and that may have helped me a bit over the last couple of years,” Scroggie said. “Still, it isn't the easiest time to be a designer right now. I think it is really critical to provide value. You have to be pretty scrappy right now to make it!”
A look at Scroggie’s website shows why it works so well, and why any designer would do well to research design sites to get ideas.
First, the look of the site is clean and crisp, with a white background and well-photographed images, and it’s easy to navigate. But perhaps the best element, from a marketing point of view, is the “Design Tip of the Week.”
On the week we checked out Scroggie’s site, the tip was to see if your artwork is hung too high on the wall - just the sort of quick, easy, and inexpensive improvement you can make. “In an interior, having the art too high breaks the relationship between the artwork and the furnishings and generally looks awkward and arbitrary,” Scroggie says on his site.
Of course, having two businesses - selling furniture and providing design services - allows Scroggie to bring in two streams of revenue and not just one. His furniture is eclectic, interesting, and bright, and we like it that he’s recycling pieces that otherwise might end up in the landfill.
We suggest that designers, would-be designers, and anyone interested in improving the look of their home check out Scroggie’s site.
Interested in decorating? Explore the Sheffield School, New York, NY. Sheffield began as an Interior Design school in 1985, and then expanded its course offerings to train people in other design-related fields, including Feng Shui, Wedding and Event Planning, and Jewelry Design. With thousands of active students and more than 50,000 graduates, Sheffield has trained more design professionals than any school in the world.