Furniture designers design for homes, offices and institutions. Designers
have to consider design trends, competitors' products, production costs and
their company's market. They must also be strongly involved with the fashion
industry and aware of current styles.
Detailed drawings of fixtures, forms and the tools used in the production
are also the responsibility of the designer. They may also design custom pieces
or styles according to a specific period or country.
Designers must decide whether to create furniture for retail or focus on
art furniture. The former category usually generates higher incomes, and it
offers wider employment options. Art furniture sells in galleries and is limited
to a smaller clientele.
Furniture designer Dale Broholm says telecommuting is common with designers
affiliated with large-volume manufacturers. They work from their homes and
telecommute through telephone lines, the Internet and video conferencing.
In the past, freelance designers used to work with a number of clients.
Now, with higher competition and greater consolidations, there are opportunities
for designers to fill niche markets, and to cater to specific small markets.
People are willing to pay higher prices for quality design and good furniture
-- they're willing to wait until they can afford a better quality product.
Designer Steve Hodges says opening a furniture design business today requires
more capital than in the past.
"When I opened my business, all I needed was an old drawer to use as a
drafting table, and I could go to the public library to use their photocopier.
Now, you need a fax machine, a word processor or computer, a photocopier --
there's a much bigger capital outlay required.
"It's become a global market. I rely on couriers and e-mail. Shipping charges
are a component of my budget."