Most customers have a difficult time visualizing how new furniture will look in their home. And a confused mind always says, "No." So if they aren't 100% sure that they're making the right decision, they'll usually give you the 'ol, "We're going to go home and think about it."
It's up to the design professional to help the customer "see" their new room with the words they use and the way they present the products. Here are some quick tips to use during the fabric-selection or presentation process.
Use correct fabric terminology when describing the pattern/weave type. This builds your credibility as a designer. People feel more confident following the advice of someone who seems knowledgeable and experienced in their industry.
Find creative names for the color. Instead of “shade of yellow”, maybe it’s “Honeycomb” or “daffodil.” This taps into the emotional aspect of choosing new furniture. NOTE: If your customer uses a certain color name, you should use that name, too – even if you don’t think it is 100% accurate. Color naming is subjective and this process is about making them comfortable and happy.
Before having the customer feel the fabric, fold the fabric in half. This way, their fingers aren’t rubbing the course back side.
Place the fabrics on the actual pieces the customer is considering. Make sure the fabric sample is oriented exactly the way it will be upholstered. Different furniture manufacturers place the pin tickets/tags in different locations. Consult the catalog to ensure you are displaying the sample correctly. Try to conceal the edges and tags, if possible, by tucking them into the cushions.
Place the fabric for the pillows around the actual pillow on the floor model. Layer this right next to the sofa fabric so the customer can see how the two fabrics work together. If you are proposing a contrasting welt, fold the welt fabric in half and place it behind the pillow so the folded edge is just peaking out from behind, giving the illusion of a welt.
If you’re working with three or more fabrics, try to also show the customer the fabrics in proportion to how they will be displayed in the room – sofa fabric being the biggest, chair fabrics folded to display ¾ of the sample, and pillow fabrics folded in ½.
If the fabric on the floor sample is too distracting, have a yard of solid, thick cream-colored fabric to place on the furniture piece before you place your fabric samples on it. You’ll neutralize the background allowing the customer to better visualize what their fabrics will look like on the piece.
Justify how the colors and patterns work together. E.g. "Even though we are using 3 different fabric patterns, they all work together because the scale is different. The sofa is an over-scaled floral with a mini-floral pillow. So the florals aren’t competing with one another. The stripe on the chair pulls in many of the colors from the florals, which will tie the pieces together."
When deciding between several fabric combinations, talk about the positives of each. Avoid using any negative words. This process is about what your customer likes & dislikes, not what the designer's preferences are.
E.g. "This floral combination is soft and feminine. The light cotton fabrics keep it more casual. The chenille tapestry fabric combination is still feminine but the fabric thickness and sheen add a touch of formality."
Then ask a decision-inducing question like, "Which style are you more comfortable with - soft, feminine & casual or feminine with a touch of opulence & formality?"
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