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Back to Phase 2: Should You Still Meet Designers in Person?

May 20, 2021
BOOKMARK

Yes or no? We got the professionals to weigh in.

The announcement of Phase 2 (heightened alert) from 16 May to 13 June 2021 marks the return of quieter streets in Singapore once again.

However, unlike the Circuit Breaker period last year, there’s no closure on non-essential businesses (or a suspension on construction work) this time round, which means that homeowners can still meet with interior designers to get the ball rolling on their renovation if they so wish.

M38 Showroom by The Interior Lab

Interior Firm: The Interior Lab

Still, is it advisable – and more importantly – safe to do so? We spoke to three interior designers, Kobe Wong (KDOT), Cadine Lim (Prozfile Design) and Jason Boo (The Interior Lab) for their thoughts on the matter.


Do you think homeowners should meet with interior designers face-to-face during Phase 2 (heightened measures)?

Kobe: Yes. From an efficiency standpoint, I think homeowners should still meet with interior designers, but of course, in a socially responsible manner.

Defu Lane by KDOT

Interior Firm: KDOT

Back during the Circuit Breaker last year, we had many meetings with many homeowners over Zoom, so we’ve gotten used to the entire process, but it was tough giving them (homeowners) the full picture without samples or a showroom viewing.

Being at a showroom or an office means that homeowners can see an interior design firm’s work in person, so there’s less time spent on explaining. There are also some aspects [of a designer’s work] that are hard or awkward to convey in words, like for instance, the quality of workmanship or the feel of a laminate.

Defu Lane by KDOT

Another reason why I’d say meeting in person matters is because home renovations are in a way ‘big ticket’ items.

Most people are comfortable with buying a product from an online platform, like Shopee or Taobao, without viewing it first-hand because it doesn’t cost much. But the price of a renovation could go up to tens of thousands of dollars, so if they’re able to, it’s good for homeowners to sit down face-to-face with their interior designer – especially for important matters like breaking down the scope of work.

Woodlands Avenue 1 by Prozfile Design

Interior Firm: Prozfile Design

Cadine: In light of the current situation, I’d encourage homeowners to conduct virtual meetings with their interior designers. But at same time, I understand that it may be harder for both parties to ease into the conversation, especially during initial meetings, because of the lack of face-to-face interaction.

Also, based on past experience, I’ve learnt that homeowners might find it (the discussion process) tough if project meetings were to take place entirely in a virtual setting. For example, they wouldn’t be able to feel a fabric swatch through a screen or get the opportunity to interact with tile samples physically.

Woodlands Avenue 1 by Prozfile Design

Still, I believe there are ways to adapt to these challenges. For example, one idea that we might explore is sending out materials – not an entire catalogue of course, but shortlisted items – to our high-intent customers so that they can have samples on hand before our virtual meetings.

On the business-to-business end, we have also taken precautions to meet material vendors at job sites, instead of areas like galleries or shopping centres which have higher human traffic. This is a step that homeowners could possibly take as well by booking dedicated showroom slots with their interior designers so there’ll be less people around during a physical meeting.

M38 Showroom by The Interior Lab

Interior Firm: The Interior Lab

Jason: To meet in person or not, I think the deciding factor for homeowners is their level of comfort. But as designers, we prefer face-to-face discussions, provided the right precautions are in place, like coming down only in pairs or having reduced staff numbers on-site and at the office.

I believe the general sentiment now leans towards adopting video conferencing as part of the new normal, but there are segments of homeowners who still prefer having physical meetings. One example would be the more mature crowd who might not have as much experience with technology as younger couples.

M38 Showroom by The Interior Lab

Moreover, I find it a challenge to accurately present samples during virtual meetings – this not only applies to textured items, but also coloured ones. Due to factors like lighting conditions and device settings, fabrics and other materials tend to look different across monitors and phones, so it’s unlikely that they’ll be perceived the same way by anyone who’s on the other side of the screen.

Hence, in my opinion, meeting in person could be a better arrangement, at least during the discussion phase, because it lends clarity to the finer aspects of a design proposal. Of course, there’s also the possibility that in-person meetups might not be possible in the future, but we’ll just have to be patient and work around the situation as best as we can.


If you have a virtual meeting with an interior designer, here’s how to make the most of it.

While it’s clear that there are some communication hurdles to overcome with virtual meetings, having one with your interior designer can still prove to be a fruitful experience – you just need to prepare. Here are some things you can do beforehand to make the most out of your online meetup:

1. Create a conducive environment for virtual meetings

For a discussion with little to no disruptions, Kobe recommends finding a quiet place before going online. “Sometimes, it’s hard to stick to a time limit because of distractions like young children or pets,” says Kobe. “If possible, I’d advise homeowners to go somewhere quiet and has a good Wi-Fi connection.”

Lengkok Tiga by KDOT

Interior Firm: KDOT

2. Come with your mood board and floor plan

Coming prepared is one of the keys to a fruitful online meeting with your interior designer and it’ll also let him/her know you better.

“For first-time meetups, I highly encourage homeowners to have a copy of their floor plan ready as well as a mood board or a list of items that they’d like to see in their future home,” says Jason. “This will let your interior designer understand your needs better and allow the meeting to proceed smoothly within a timeframe of 30 to 45 minutes.”

Mera Springs by Prozfile Design

Interior Firm: Prozfile Design

3. Take the time to think about what you’d like for your future home.

Although speed might be of the essence, when it comes to renovation matters, it might be better to take things slower.

“Due to the current situation, homeowners who are renovating now might be facing some delays and there could be new regulations or rules that might further impact work sites,” says Cadine.

“So, unless you need to move in soon, it’s best not to rush into things, be it planning or the renovation itself, because your home is where you’ll be living in for next few years.”


Now's a good time as any to get started on your renovation plans!

Many Singapore homeowners have had to put their renovations on hold due to COVID-19, but that doesn't mean you can't start planning for yours now.

Ironing out the kinks in your home makeover plan will enable it to proceed smoothly once circumstances improve, so if you’d like some professional help let us know and we'll link you up with five diffferent interior design firms to get the ball rolling!

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