Why sustainable design has left the status of “niche”
When the motorization of window treatments arrived, I resisted. I had no interest in tackling the learning curve that came with it. Like most humans, I was reluctant to change and hoped it was just a passing fad. I wanted what worked in the past to keep working. I wanted to stick with what I knew.
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I ended up giving in. I learned about motorization, and we integrated it into our business at Window work. Turns out it’s a good thing we did – powertrain is now standard and it’s hard to imagine our business without it. What I wanted to ignore was more than a flash in the pan, it was the future of window treatments.
As designers, you face your own version of this. A “trend” that is making its way into the mainstream as we speak: Durable design.
Sustainability pays off
I recently received Susan Inglis, Executive Director of Sustainable furniture advice, in my show A well-designed company. She shared astonishing statistics: A Council study found that six in ten consumers want to learn more about eco-friendly and sustainable furniture from designers, but the same number indicated that they did not know of any designer doing so. sustainable design.
That’s why sustainability presents such an opportunity right now. People want it and the demand is there. But so far not enough designers are at the forefront. You don’t have to be a business guru to understand that where there is demand that is not met, there is profit that remains on the table.
What is your niche?
Sustainability as a niche offers a lot of potential. But as more and more consumers demand it and more designers embrace and integrate sustainability into their businesses, it will become the norm.
It is not enough to just say that you are a “sustainable designer”. You’ll have to do the job of learning the ins and outs, whether it’s learning about certifications, low-carbon materials, efficient devices, or other aspects of the field. And most importantly, you will have to decide where and how you will approach it in your designs.
Take Lenora DeMars from 9 Ten Design, for example. Sustainability is integral to her business, but she has also carved her own niche in it, creating “spaces that heal your mind, body and soul while taking function and style to new heights.” Lenora offers more than just sustainability: it brings the well-being of its customers through spaces that respect the environment.
Sustainability offers many possibilities for you to bring your unique touch to it and for you to fill that space as a must-have designer.
Alignment with passion
The best niches aren’t just profitable, they are built on passion. When you design with the heart and build a well-designed business around what you love, you create more value, more referrals, more happiness, and more fulfillment.
People can always tell when you are not genuine. But when you’re really passionate, they can say it too.
I’ve had enough conversations with designers to know that many of you are passionate about sustainability. You want to have a positive impact on the environment. You want to find a way to incorporate sustainable furniture, handle less chemicals, and produce less waste. If this is you, you have the chance to connect with your customers on a deeper level, to work directly with those who share your passion.
I had recently Bethany Wrede Peterson, a branded vocal coach, on the show, and she made a point that was a big âaha momentâ for me. As many people have pointed out, she said finding your niche starts with your target audience. But she also said it’s not just about who you love or even who you have a relationship with, it’s about clients you resonate with so strongly that you instinctively anticipate their needs.
If you build your business on the basis of your passion, then you can find clients who share your values ââand who align with your vision and mission for your business. This is when you become the benchmark, the obvious choice for your ideal client.
The future of design
Honestly, I don’t think a designer can afford to ignore sustainability as we move into the future. It is incumbent upon us, as global citizens and prescribers, to at least consider the impact we have both now and in the long term. If sustainability ignites a real spark in you, given the combination of market potential, personal passion, and increased profitability, this could be the perfect way to grow your business and make a difference in the world.