Review: BIID Inside Knowledge conference 2018 puts the focus on best practices

posted on Thursday, 22nd November 2018 by Geny Caloisi

BIID Conference 2018 


The British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) held its eighth annual conference Inside Knowledge 2018: The BIID Business Success Conference, earlier this month. This year, the conference featured five sessions on the theme of business success, providing interior designers with real, actionable advice that they were able to take away from the event and apply straight away to their own business.

Following a welcome and introduction from BIID President, Gilly Craft, the audience was captivated by the first thought-provoking session of the day, the Keynote Conversation with Olga Polizzi (photo below). Hosted by Studio magazine’s editor, Kate Burnett, this engaging conversation offered key insights into the acclaimed hotelier and interior designer’s career, her design philosophy, personal life, recent projects, career advice and what led her to become one of the country’s most successful designers.

Audience Shot (3)

Interior Designers were taken on a whistle-stop journeythrough the apps and technologies in use by design studio teams today, in the quick-fire panel discussion, ‘The App That Changed My Life.’

Hosted by Susie Rumbold, each of the seven speakers took it in turns to explain why their favourite app should be part of every interior designers working toolkit, including Kia Stanford (picture below) on Basecamp, Simone Suss on Instagram, Peter Staunton on Sketchfab, Natalia Shchyra on Kubity, Sarah Ahluwalia on Estimac, Harriet Forde on Pinterest, and Gilly Craft on Xero.

All these apps seemed to have in common the capacity of saving time, space (no need of paper inspiration when you can have all the images you need online) and of providing a visual aspect to projects. There were also some presenters talking about the apps that helped them with finances and projects’ specs.

One drawback of these apps is that many don’t talk to the other, so one might visualise and spec a project on one application, but will have to use a different one to invoice the client.

Some apps are free, and some have scalable options to choose from. All these companies knew the value of keeping their data safe. The majority prefer to save the data generated by the apps on DropBox.

Kia Stanford

Interior designer and sustainability and wellbeing expert, Elina Grigoriou, discussed how becoming an SKA rating assessor has added to her skills as an interior designer in her business success case study at the conference. She explained why the issue of sustainability is essential for interior designers and how her training in this sector has allowed her business to grow.

Everyone agrees that being sustainable is best, but how sustainable is good enough and what projects might be pretending to be sustainable when in fact the cost to the environment is more significant than initially thought. One of the key issues is understanding people’s needs. ID has to be cost-effective and fit for purpose. We also have to see what the life cycle of the interior might be.

Being SKA ratter is an option that might be of interest to interior designers, there is an SKA foundation course and then the assessor course – for just over a thousand pounds you can get it. 

The day ended with  ‘The professional design buyers view: a client perspective of working with interior designers,’ - a similar theme as what the day started with, hotel ID. The panel included Emma King, Head of Interior Design at InterContinental Hotels Group, Andy McLoughlin, Director Capital Projects, Hilton, and Lester Bennett, BIID Director and Design Consultant, the audience gained a wealth of insight and practical advice to take away for future projects.

When it comes to ID for hotels, brand standards, sustainability and following a consistent narrative were a common denominator amongst the panellist. They also highlighted the need for the designer to be flexible.

As Andy McLoughlin, director capital project at Hilton puts it: ‘When we work with interior designers, we look for people that have flexibility. They need to understand the marketplace, know the deliverables and take a holistic approach to the project working with us as a team. But more than anything, they have to know that we are very inflexible, so they need to be flexible.” 

Projects presentations are very important for the hospitality sector. Hilton does some times pay for the presentation – which can cost a significant amount on time and money. However, having in house design teams seems to be a trend.

Audience Shot (2)

Gilly Craft, BIID President, commented: “We’re delighted with the feedback we’ve received for the 2018 BIID annual conference. The event aims to inspire and motivate interior designers and design professionals and to provide advice and guidance to support their professional development. I’d like to thank all of our incredible speakers who gave up their time to share their knowledge, our fantastic supporters who made the event possible, and for all of the attendees who joined us on the day.”

Geny Caloisi

Geny Caloisi is a technology and interiors journalist who has worked across a variety of industry publications.

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