Weekly Editorial

Design Influencers: Digital Tools & Resources

Written By Rob Kirkbride, Editor-in-chief, officeinsight • March 27, 2023

Professional interior designer working in the office, she is sketching on a house plan and choosing swatches

This week The Insider is going to take a look at design influencers, but instead of focusing on people, we are going to take a look at some of the other design influencers that are abundant in our industry. You know the people who influence design in the industry. What are some of the websites, digital tools and other things that influence design?

Designers find influence all around them, from the people, places and things they interact with each day. And more than a single individual or thing, designers find inspiration from the totality of their experiences. Design is also influenced greatly by society in general, which we are seeing on display right now with the conversations swirling around return to the office and hybrid work.

The best designers put themselves in positions to learn. Whether through CEUs or one of the many events created to help designers learn and discover, the best designers are sponges who take in countless ideas, products and experiences, distill it and use it to create beautiful, hard-working spaces.

For many, that begins with events. The industry has countless events for designers that range from massive furniture shows to webinars and professional events. They include shows like NeoCon at theMART, Salone del Mobile in Milan, Orgatec held every other year in Cologne and Clerkenwell Design Week in London, to name just a few. Designers use these events for product inspiration, to discover new fabrics and finishes and get a glimpse at new colors and materials.

Digital tools increasingly help inspire designers as well. They range from global social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest where designers sift through scads of information to identify trends and be inspired. Digital tools also include industry-specific platforms such as INDEAL’s Pinpoint for product discovery and comparison, Mercato Place to find fabric samples and Ecomedes and Mortarr to sort through environmental information.

Websites and traditional media also have a huge influence on designers who look to newsletters such as The Insider for information. They also look to media like officeinsight and viewpoint magazines. Specialty websites such as Designer Pages also help with discovery and specification.

Culture plays a huge role in designer inspiration as well. Fashion, the corporate world and even sports can have an impact on designers and design.

Design and designers are constantly building on and working from their individual and collective knowledge. A designer might see a sunset and use the color in her next project. A designer might observe the flow of his daughter’s first grade classroom and use it in his next office design. A designer might see a shoe fabric that inspires the fabric used in a hospital project.

I spoke to a furniture maker who hosts many tours each year for designers at the company’s factory. Instead of simply showing designers how their products are made, the company gives a hands-on tour where the visiting designers have a chance to actually build the furniture to see how it is made, including learning basic welding techniques. It is a brilliant way for the company to engage with designers who thrive on experiences and use them to create fantastic spaces where we work, learn, relax and heal.

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