Design is a Collaboration


Clifton Schmidt  - Designers Axess Fabric Showroom and Curator 

Time is my most valuable commodity.  Like everyone else, I have a limited amount of time to accomplish many things.

The best way to do that is to surround oneself with capable, talented people, trades and vendors.   Clif of Designers Axess  Fabric Showroom is at the top of my list of invaluable people that support my business.

He is so very knowledgeable and quick to focus in on exactly what I am looking for.

 Imagine the options available!!  It's mind boggling for the clients and it's up to designers to sift through all of the choices...hundreds, thousands - and Clif is the expert.

Visiting Clif's showroom in Westlake Village, California is always a pleasure....Designers truly love fabric and he has the newest and finest.

I asked Clif to provide information he would give  to a "New Designer"

This is REALLY valuable information.  Print it and learn.  He truly is the best and in the end, the best in the business helps US as designers to be successful.  DESIGN IS A COLLABORATION.

Here are Clif's tips:

Everyone loves the idea of having a decorator, can they really afford it?
It's important to determine what a clients budget is before you start shopping, quoting or invoicing.
A new designer needs to really know the basics on what the current labor costs are in their area so that they can discuss labor before they invest serious time in selecting materials.
a. labor costs for a euro sham are XYZ
b. labor costs for a standard drapery panel are XYZ
c. labor costs for a new sofa are priced by the foot @ XYZ...
These are fixed costs to the client and you can therefore back into these costs with the right materials.

2. SELECTING FABRIC MATERIALS. If you are NOT charging by the hour, select 3-4 choices, not one because it might have a stock issue and not 20 because this will overwhelm the client.
3-4 is a good number.

3. KNOW THE TRAFFIC DEMANDS OF A GIVEN AREA. Determine how a space is used so that you can choose a fabric material that will do the job. family and kids heavily used spaces should have some blend of Poly, Acrylic, Nylon.
if you want more than 3 years out of a fabric, you would not use a 100% natural fabric in high traffic areas. If you do,your client will emotionally expect you to replace it when they decide that they are unhappy. Save 100% natural fibers for slip covers and low traffic areas like guest rooms, master suites, formal areas.

4. THE SERIOUS MONEY IS IN DRAPERY. Clients will spend more on drapery than on upholstered furniture fabrics, therefore, select a textile that is appropriate for the job for longevity . If you are living in the south or southwest, you may not want to put a pure natural fiber on a southern or western exposure, ( unless you have some large tree that shades the property). for example, pure silk will fade and dry rot. linen will fade and become stiff. Find a blend for added stability.

5. DO SOME SERIOUS STUDY WHEN IT COMES TO TEXTILE FIBERS. Many designers lack this essential education! For instance. There is a big misconception when it comes to outdoor fabrics. MOST outdoor fabrics are only rated between 500-1000 hours! Outdoor fabrics are priced 50% higher than interior fabrics and it's important to let your clients know that is you live in the south or southwest, you will only get 1-2 years out of an outdoor fabric if it is left uncovered when not in use!

Another widely unknown problem is with a fabric called Viscose. Viscose has gained a lot of momentum in the last 20 years as a common replacement for silk. Viscose has some of the good qualities of silk and All of the bad qualities as well.
Untreated viscose which is a Rayon absorbs color dyes beautifully but it equally absorbs, body oil, salad dressing, watermarks, etc. If you are looking for a silk product, Viscose is very good replacement because it is widely available, ( does not require raising silk worms ). Do not use Viscose in high traffic areas!
Viscose these days is widely used in chenille, velvet, printed fabrics for drapery, trimmings. So many designers misuse this textile and regret it because it was specified for the wrong area or the wrong client all together. Would you keep a silk blouse in a mudroom? NO!  Visit the website at


Elizabeth Ribons, ASID, CID

Tips, knowledge from first-hand experience, resources and more....Better by Design delivers information on How to Become an Interior Designer.  Click the link to join the community and receive brief weekly updates and information on the interior design business. "This is what you didn't learn in design school....How to run your own design business"

Join the Community