The Business of Design…..

Posted by Gillian Gillies | 24 Jan, 2015 | No Comments on The Business of Design…..

Cynthia Occelli via 889yoga


Truth be told I have spent half of my week working on my business not working in my business. I feel like I’ve been at boot camp – although this is more about mental exhaustion / overload than physical exhaustion. Which in my opinion is far more intense. So far this morning I’ve spilled a large bag of black beans (the dried kind – thank goodness) all over the floor, chipped a mug, dinged my shin and tripped over my handbag….its only 9:18 am. I get really clumsy when my brain is tired. My clients should all be very happy that I am nowhere near their homes or projects today!


Wednesday & Thursday were spent at a 2-day Business of Design Conference. This is the third annual conference and I got as much out of it as I did my first – you NEVER EVER stop learning. Or maybe I should say that I NEVER EVER want to stop learning. I love my job and attending this conference ensures that I stay on track and don’t let my business take over my entire life and being. I don’t want to become one of those snarky, beaten down, unhappy designers – I want to stay happy and positive. It’s easier said than done some days which is why I extract myself from the daily running of my firm and invest in this fabulous learning opportunity. If anyone reading this blog is looking to hire a designer one of the questions they should ask their potential hire is if they have attended any of Kimberley Seldon’s Business of Design Courses. If they say no, walk away. From my experience the designers who attend this conference really care about improving their client service delivery in addition to designing them fabulous spaces. So often the journey to completion can discolour the finished project. 97% of my business comes from repeat and referral business – all the projects (100%) we are currently working on fall into this category. We are not perfect, sometimes crazy things can happen outwith our control but we stick with it and we communicate and we get things done. I credit a lot of the improvements in my service delivery to Kimberley.

So that was Wednesday & Thursday day. Wednesday night was dinner out at Kit Kat with a group of friends and conference attendees and Thursday evening was the Interior Design Show (IDS15) party. It was a hoot as this picture attests. I am glad Lindsey wore white or else we’d all just be one black blob on the sofa.


From top to bottom (left to right) Dean Einarson, LeAnne Bunnell, Nina Bazin, Nyla Free, Lindsey Sheldrake, Me, Cyndie Jerome.


Friday was spent at IDS15 where Bonnie and I went to a fabulous kitchen seminar by Jane Lockhart and then we scoured the show floor for amazing and innovative product. I think this years show really got its groove on. Many years I’ve gone and its felt like a generic home show – overloaded with rows of kitchen appliances and fireplaces. This year the show felt more curated, more about design. And when I say design I really mean designer, as in #HIREADESIGNER.

Point in case – IKEA always has a very large and very prominent booth. This year their space was divided into 3 – a kitchen designed by Canadian House & Home (editor Suzanne Dimma, Sarah Hartill and Joel Bray) a kitchen designed by IKEA and another kitchen designed by Style At Home (Erin McLaughlin & team – I would add their names but there is no mention of who did what on their website, in fact their are no images of their gorgeous work on their website……). The IKEA kitchen looked like an IKEA kitchen that looked like a budget friendly kitchen from IKEA. The kitchens designed by the design teams, looked nothing like an IKEA kitchen yet they were.

Canadian House & Home


Style At Home


Even with my poor photography skills you can see how lovely these kitchens are. I LOVE the fact that the cabinets have a saturated colour and that they are not white. Both spaces featured areas with wallpaper and both showcased bold geometric tiles (one on the walls and one on the floor). Lighting was another key element, it’s not all about just task lights in a well designed kitchen – there are pendants and wall sconces. Both spaces were very homely, very organic and you could image good things being baked and enjoyed in these kitchens. They were more about lifestyle than function, they had a personality and didn’t look like they came from a box store….this is the power of good design. These spaces tell more of a story than just proving a function space this is what designers provide. It’s more than just a bathroom or a kitchen or a bedroom, great design evokes a feeling and the function is almost secondary. Well, that’s what we do at Gillian Gillies Interiors Inc. and that’s what all great designers do.

Have a fabulous weekend and if you have the time get over to IDS in Toronto and get inspired, but whatever you do hire me or a designer who has attended the Business of Design Conference.

Cheers! Gillian

(featured image via 889yoga)

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