Designers + Stylists

L.A. Design Concepts

April 4, 2008

When I was in Stockholm this past Fall I mentioned here on decor8 that I continuously found quality fabric that wasn’t to the trade only as the Swedes believe that good design should be available to all, with or without a designer. As I investigated this further by researching how to the trade works in other countries, I found that most don’t have such a thing, that to the trade just may be uniquely a North American thing — I think they do this in Canada but maybe my Canadian readers know better and can leave your thoughts here.

L.A. Design Concepts Ironies is one of the many to the trade showrooms
that you can have access to with a designer.

This leads me to telling you about L.A. Design Concepts and you’ll see why in a moment. I’ve been in conversation with Frank, owner of L.A. Design Concepts, because he contacted me via email and I had to get on the phone and learn more about the services his company provides. When he first wrote in stating that he has the first company of its kind offering national access to designer furniture without having to hire an interior designer, I was a bit skeptical. Now I’m a believer as this really does open up good design to all in a sense, of course with a fee.

To sum up our conversation, L.A. Design Concepts offers direct access to design centers throughout the United States and via their website to over 300 to the trade only manufacturers — all without having to hiring a designer to work with you. In other words, anyone can get in on so many products you crave that you couldn’t purchase otherwise from either the convenience of home or they offer a letter of introduction where consumers can shop any design center in the nation without having an interior designer present.

What about fees? They offer a processing fee of 20% above designer wholesale cost. This represents a large savings compared to the traditional 30-40% designer mark-ups, plus hourly fees charged. So you can pretty much bypass the designer and get your goods on your own. Or if you wish to have design help, they offer a complete range of interior design services for a fee.

So I have my opinions about this and I’ll state them here. If you need a lamp, a coffee table, or some accessories this may really work. If you are going to purchase an entire room, I still would consider hiring on a decorator or designer and work through them because you don’t want to make huge costly mistakes. Designers aren’t hired merely for access to trade only items. They are hired because they, or shall I say we since I work with clients myself, understand how everything works together from proportion to color, and we do all the run around work for you so you can sit back and just watch your room come to life with little vendor involvement. Consider that while you can save money in some areas, you risk to lose more if you install that $180 per roll wallpaper-of-your-dreams only to realize once it’s up that you hate because it’s out of scale and looks horrifying in your entryway. Then you have to spend days removing it then more time ordering something else. But I think that so many amazing talents are running around out there who are perfectly capable of decorating their homes without professional help so if you consider yourself in this category by all means, consider L.A. Design Concepts. If you are willing to admit that you have a terrible time pulling together a room, then go the route of hiring a little help.

And thanks Frank for taking the first step to open trade only products up to all because I still think good design should be available to everyone especially here in America where freedom is something our country was founded on. Shouldn’t we have freedom in what we’re purchasing as well?

(image from ironies)


  • Reply That Girl Designs April 4, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Hi Holly-

    Just wanted to pass on a new place in Austin that has just opened called The Home Spa, a design studio and boutique. I haven’t added it to my blog yet, but thought I’d pass it on to your readers as it is the same type business as L.A. Design Concepts. It is owned by designer Rebecca Lighfoot and her concept with the studio is to make design more accessible. She has a library of to-the-trade product books, or clients can by pieces from several showrooms. If people don’t want to go the DIY way, they can hire Lightfoot for her custom design services.

    Ann Marie

  • Reply katiedid April 4, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    I agree that design should be consumer accessible too. But somehting I think people should keep in is not as easy to order that custom sofa 8-way hand-tied with the perfect fabric (which ships from another source to the sofa maker)the contrasting welt (another supplier also to be sent to the sofa maker) and 25/75 down wrap cushions in the perfect size. Ther are many details in custom furniture that merit the use of a designer. I have had many a client return to me after trying to save $ by doing these types of things themselves. But if it is an easy thing, like a lamp, I say
    go for it”. I also would add, if there is a problem in shipping or anything else (the fabric is flawed and needs to be reordered for example), a designer is the one who takes care of damage and freight claims. Hence the extra $.

  • Reply All Things Bright and Beautiful... April 5, 2008 at 1:18 am

    Dear Holly great interview – thank you

  • Reply paola April 5, 2008 at 2:53 am

    ‘to the trade’ definitely exists in the UK too…

  • Reply amara April 7, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    This is great, thinks for posting about it. Do you (or anybody) know a company in the UK that does this kind of service?

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