In short, no. No you can’t.
But as creative people, we have to, in order to make a living. An artist charges £500 for a painting perhaps, which sounds a lot doesn’t it? But then when you find out it took them a week to create it and cost them £70 in materials (canvas, brushes, paints….) £430 for 40 hours work doesn’t quite sound as good does it? That’s £10.75 p/hr by the way. For someone that’s maybe got a BA in fine art. And 40 hours is always 60 hours, because any creative person starts work as soon as they get out of bed and doesn’t switch off until the lights are out. Even then, the brain continues to whirr and race with ideas.
I have been known to solve design dilemmas in my dreams. So even when i’m asleep, i’m working. That’s kind of annoying.
But what happens when you work in a service industry and the service you provide isn’t tangible? When the service you provide is a long and lengthy process where you, the customer only get to see the product at the very end at the “final reveal”? It’s difficult to justify the cost of your time to some people, because they don’t see you “working”. They don’t see you thinking, contemplating, sourcing, experimenting, pondering… In short, they don’t see the creative process. And every creative process is unique because we respond and react to each environment and situation differently.
“Creativity is a skill and therefore has a value. In the modern world, that equates to a monetary value. Our worth as designers is justified by the value we add to the lives of our clients. Making their homes; the spaces they have worked hard to afford, work better for them.” – YMMD Design
Since launching the Interior Design Collective, we’ve been having some really interesting discussions about fees, rates, how we charge and how we work it all out. And although we all work slightly differently, we all seem to be in line with one another (although us northerners are slightly cheaper than our southern counterparts), hourly rates within the IDC being between £30 and £50 per hour. Some of us only work by the hour, and others offer a slightly reduced day-rate, my own being £235 for eight hours. My prices have always been on my website by the way, so it’s not like i’m letting any cats out of the bag there.
Ok, so let’s compare these figures to some other services industries out there that work by the hour:
- Haircut – £30 – £50?
- Colour – £40 – £60?
- Sports massage or physio – £35-£55?
- Dental check up – £48 (and that’s for 20 minutes!)
- Plumber/electrican – £35
So I think you catch my drift. Cost per hour is in the same ball park. The difference being, you get to see or experience your hour’s worth of work immediately. And you’re going to need more than an hour for me to plan and design a room in your home. It takes time and you might not see the benefits until nearing the end of a project. But this doesn’t mean we’re not working.
In fact the invisible work is always the hardest bit, so yeah, we’re going to be charging for our time, because if we didn’t, you’d be getting all of the best bits for free. And I promise you now, if i’ve charged you for 8 hours, i’ve done 12. Because that’s what happens. You get a whole lot of thinking, insomnia, second guessing and “sleep designing” for free.
After – Victorian Living Room
I remember doing a two hour consult last summer with a lady who had just had plans drawn up for a two storey extension and complete house reconfiguration. Their £50k budget was already super tight, but I was booked just for two hours, to go through the plans with them. They weren’t 100% convinced the architect had given them the optimum layout and they needed to be confident they’d nailed it before plonking down their life’s savings. Sensible.
At the end of the two hour’s, she said
“That’s the best £80 i’ve spent.”
I was immensely pleased to hear that.
A year later, I was back there walking around a building site with the very layout we’d drawn up the previous year. So whilst £80 might sound like a lot of money to sit down and talk to someone about a floor plan, that two hours completely changed their home for the better. In terms of value, i’d say that was pretty good going no?
So can you put a value on creativity? What’s your take on this? I’m certain i’ve got some creative bods that read my ramblings? And any people that have used an interior designer in the past, did you see and appreciate the value? I’d love to know your thoughts on this one…