In this installment of the Penketh Group Staff Spotlight, we catch up with the newest member of our Manchester-based office design team – Hayley. Decorated with industry qualifications and experience with some of the city’s leading design companies, we’re delighted to boast her as our resident Design Consultant.
So, H, what made you move from interior design to design consultancy?
H:Having specialised in hospitality design for nearly 6 years, I decided I was ready for a new challenge.
I would always find that my favourite parts of projects were once the design had gained client approval and I got to manage the project through to the construction phases. Specifying the furniture was always the part of the project I looked forward to the most. I genuinely have a true love for furniture. I always enjoyed the value engineering phase too and finding inventive ways to reduce the costs whilst retaining the overall design aesthetic.
I enjoy working directly with clients to manage their expectations and create spaces which are design led, improve their wellbeing and meet their budgets. Working as a Design Consultant means I get to focus on the areas which are my most favourite whilst working with the clients to help specify the right furniture so I still get to create beautiful spaces.
What does a typical day for a Design Consultant look like?
H: Mainly working with designers and end-user clients to support them with their furniture requirements and working alongside them to specify the fabrics and finishes for their projects. I put a lot of estimates together to help a client establish a furniture budget in the early stages of a project, which is designed to avoid the need for a time-consuming value engineering process later on down the line.
I’m always developing our product portfolio by researching and keeping my ear to the ground for any new untapped furniture manufacturers. I also spend a great deal of time out and about visiting designers and educating them on new manufacturers that we work with. My job role is so varied that it’s very rare for two days to ever look the same.
How do you encourage clients to come out of their comfort zones and try something new?
H: I know from personal experience that designers are often so busy working on multiple projects at one time that it can be tricky for them to find time to keep up to date with new products and manufacturers. I know myself I used to fall in to the trap of using the same furniture products because I have the CAD blocks or 3d models to hand. This runs the risk of designs starting to look similar, so this is where I help… I provide designers with bite size information on new products to encourage them to explore more.
Have you noticed clients are gravitating more towards conscious design lately?
H: I am getting asked about sustainability more and more often from clients. It’s clearly at the forefront of everyone’s mind and people are becoming more conscious about how the products they purchase impact the environment. It’s great to see that this is filtering through to furniture manufacturers as many of them are now focusing their efforts on creating products from recyclable materials.
What is your favourite part of our new-look showroom?
H: I have lots of favourite parts! I just love the homely, resimercial vibe of it and how many of the furniture pieces wouldn’t look out of place in somebody’s living room. This is nice because it means I’m very privileged work in an environment which feels like a home from home.
I also love our Fabrics & Finishes Library – especially the peg wall – because it’s every designer’s dream to have so many finishes to hand! It’s really useful when we’re helping a client choose their finishes too.
If you weren’t here making us laugh every day?
H: If I had lots of disposable money I’d be a Property Developer because I love DIY, project managing and designing on a budget.
What would you say to anybody else looking to join the industry?
H: Do it! It’s a fantastic industry and you’ll make lots of friends. No two days will ever be the same as the projects you work on will always come with their constraints and hurdles but there’s no better feeling than when you get to visit a completed project and see people enjoying and using a space which you’ve helped to design.
My advice would be to not overthink what part of the design industry you want to get in to. Once you get your first job in the industry you’ll find your own pathway and work out exactly which parts of design particularly interest you. If there’s one thing this industry is, it’s diverse!