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I Forge Iron

Working with Interior Designers

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I have worked with interior designers. The ones I have worked with have taken 30 percent. They are a hard bunch to get in with. I have tried making cold calls to get business with some and have generally gotten a cold response. Being introduced by someone else or having them find you by past work or demoing in public has worked best for me.

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One thing I found to be key is to work with a designer who understands what is and is not possible for different types of metalwork.
If they have engineering issues then be sure you understand who`s responsibility it is to establish those specs and especially who will ensure that other contractors know and meet those specs.If they call out the specs and you build to suit their plan then they have the liability.If you custom build and follow your own guidelines then the liability falls on you.Increased liability means an increase in price.
Designers have the potential to be huge sink holes of your time.If you set guidelines from the start and they understand that THEY will be billed at the shop rate for your time then they will be less likely to waste it.

If acting as a subcontractor and building off site to a plan then I would usually submit a bid.That way the designer knows what the work will cost and can mark it up as they see fit.
On larger,more involved custom jobs (usually time and material) you may want to give them a percentage as they are then acting as a sales agent for you and the more they send your way the more $ they see in return.
A good relationship will require a certain amount of transparency,trust and understanding at both ends.

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I have worked with seven interior designers, six of them more than three times and counting, two of them on a regular basis (as in 5+ projects per year). acrhitects or genral contractors are similar but slightly different. Here is how i handle it and this is just me; they contact me about a project - I meet with them AND the homeowner/client - we talk about function, design, budget, time, and so on. we look at samples and pictures - I present a design proposal and a bid to everyone - if i get the project then i endeavor to keep the designer AND the client informed all the way through: any changes/updates go through both - the job is over only when the designer AND the client are happy - payment is NOT collected from the designer (or architect) but from the bank or title company or GC or whatever. Here is how i see it and this is just me: I am a resource for the interior designer. I allow them a greater scope and more possibilities (a way to wow the client) and in return they connect me with work. I am not a soruce of income for them, they get paid by the client just like me. We are equal players. I give 30% at the gallery where my furniture and sculpture are sold but I have never given money to an interior designer and none of them have ever asked me. If they want more money for dealing with ironwork they will get it form the client and that is up to them. I have never collected money from an interior designer. I want the homeowner/client to see my contract and my price because it is part of my reputation and I am not willing to put that in someone else's hands. I allow the interior designer/archetect and the client to have a limited amount of input about the design but ultimately it stays with me because that is also part of my reputation that I am not willing to put in someone else's hands. I always make sure that the homeowner/client has a stack of my cards when i leave and they may come to me directly for additional ironwork without involving the interior designer. If a designer wanted a cut of everything i did for that client forever after it would be complicated for me and expensive for the client. same for architects and genral contractors; would you want to pay 30% more to your interior designer if you invite the painter back to do additional painting a year later? I sure wouldn't. I work with designers, contractors, architects, genral supervisors, other contrators and craftsman, and so on but I work FOR the end user and myself.

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