This year, the conference featured five sessions on the theme of business success, providing interior designers with real, actional advice that they were able to take away from the event and apply straight away to their own business.

Highlights from the day included:

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. 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.

The first business success case study of the day saw interior designer, John Evans, explain to the audience how dividing his company into two distinct brands, John Evans Interior Architecture and Design Ltd (residential) and JE+1 Interiors (retail), transformed his business. He explained how this separation benefitted him and allowed him to retain clients and target different audiences more successfully, with advice for interiors designers on how to balance this in the best possible way. 

The lively panel discussion hosted by Daniel Hopwood, ‘Finding My Niche Market,’ provided attendees with valuable insights from BIID members including May Fawzy of boutique interior architecture practice MF Design, who specialises in commercial workplace interiors, April Russell of The Art of Interiors, who blends art with interior design, and Rhian Barker of high-end residential practice Accouter Design, who offers their clients a 15 working day turn around on FF&E Projects.

The mix of specialisms allowed for a thought-provoking debate on how to grow professional expertise in a specific market, how it enables businesses to stand out, and the challenges this generates compared to a broader ‘generalist’ approach to interior design.

For the second business success case study of the day, the audience heard from Seana Clarke from leading residential practice Holland Green on how integrating interior design and architecture benefitted her design projects. She shared her experiences of working collaboratively with architectural teams to offer a holistic design service and explained how this can improve interior designers’ value and the relationship with their clients. 

Interior Designers were taken on whistle-stop journey through 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 tool kit, including Kia Stanford 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. 

Interior designer and sustainability and wellbeing expert, Elina Grigoriou, discussed how becoming a 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 important for interior designers and how her training in this sector has allowed her business to grow. 

BIID Past President, Charles Leon, closed the day with a panel discussion on ‘The professional design buyers view: a client perspective of working with interior designers.’ With experiences shared from 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.

“We’re delighted with the feedback we’ve received for the 2018 BIID annual conference," comments Gilly Craft, BIID President. "The aim of the event is 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.” 

For more information on the BIID and on the conference, please visit www.biid.org.uk www.biidconference.com.