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Interior design in Australia is getting the digital start-up treatment

A good tagline can tell you a lot about a business.

There are lots of reasons people don’t hire interior designers, but chief among them is perceived price.

“There’s a common perception of professional interior design as being something that’s totally out of reach on the average income,” says Emily Carding, co-founder of a new startup, Designbx.

Emily Carding joined two friends, Kylie Pratt and Kerena Berry, to launch Designbx, a fixed-price interior design service.

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“The other big one is time, whether it’s meeting someone at your house or finding the right person and also that idea that someone is coming to your house with a critical, judgmental eye. That’s very intimidating for most homeowners.”

Carding’s idea is supported by industry professionals.

“Australia is a young culture when it comes to embracing and commissioning design in any form,” said Melbourne designer Chelsea Hing in a recent interview.

Which is why Carding joined two friends Kylie Pratt and Kerena Berry to launch Designbx, a fixed-price interior design service.

The trio work out of Fishburners, the tech co-working space in Sydney, and say the environment there has been a big help.

“It’s accelerated our business substantially, we’ve been there for about three months and there have been collaborations with Google and Dropbox who have mentoring schemes.

Despite having a tagline, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”, Designbx are very much concerned with appearances.

Self-funding this initial launch phase of the business, the three women have thrown everything into building a website they think will help demystify this “luxury industry”.

“There are similar platforms in the US, but we tried not to look too much overseas, we want to focus on the Australian market, which is very different.”

The website offers a quiz for people based on visual cues that will then translate into a “design style”, for example vintage, beach or contemporary.

“Then you select which room you’re looking to redesign, your lifestyle, functional things like dimensions and upload photos of the room and that brief goes out to our community of designers.”

Carding says they have 25 designers in the pool, a number which they hope to grow dramatically.

Then there’s a briefing process, and customers can choose a designer online and get started on work, which as we know, will be conducted at a fixed price, beginning at $299.

It’s a strategy that makes sense given how many risk-averse buyers there are in the market.

A 1986 study of fixed price versus spot price strategies in the US National Bureau of Economic Research found that the best results depended on how much risk buyers and sellers were interested in taking.

“What we are trying to do is create a new market and broaden the reach,” says Carding.

“It’s not necessarily people who would bring a designer in normally. It’s for people who would never have considered it before.”

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