Freelancing As A Bespoke Furniture Designer And Creator

Furniture design businesses are one of the most noble yet expensive and demanding types of businesses you can start. You’re bringing ideas to life and creating something out of nothing. The process of making ideas and orders of customers a reality is incredibly complex, and as manufacturing is the process of creation, anything can happen midstream. When you’re building furniture, the structural design is what makes the piece truly unique. The design and building of custom furniture are very niche skills to have, and consequently, if you can get it right, top-end fashion moguls and wealthy buyers can bring a lot of business your way. Treat your staff as if they were one of a kind because with their expertise and hard work on the factory floor, is what gets results. Customers have a good eye and are keen to have their tailored designs exactly how they imagine them.

Photo by - Max Pixel

Find a niche to save money

Professionals in all walks of life will tell you, that you should do what you know and stick to it. The truth is, this is true if you want to develop your bread and butter unique talent. Decide the specific kind of furniture you will create and specialize in. It could be for home decor, office, villa, mansion, hotel, resort or garden. When you realize what you’re good at, and the suspicion is rectified by the customer's positive response via sales, focus on that niche. When you focus on one style of furniture, you eliminate the need to compete on a broad scale. Therefore you save money by not biting off more than you can chew.

  • Study the competition, and perform an industry analysis. Find out what furniture type is the least developed and sold in your region.
  • Identify the market and the distinguishing characteristics that customers want, such as the material used, the specific type of furniture, and the room which is most suited to it.
  • After finding these the answer to these two questions, your business should focus on manufacturing furniture which can exploit this gap in the market.
  • How might your specialist manufacturing be relevant on a larger scale, such as designing for a brand which is attracted to your style? Hotels, cruise ship companies, theaters, restaurants and even political buildings want their own style of furniture, and your niche talents could be just what they’re looking for.

Credit - Sonny Cohrs

Safety, responsibility and trust

As you’re a furniture creator who specializes in wood and metals, the machinery you have is inherently dangerous. From drills, saws, vices, punching tools and more, the workplace is hazard-riddled. Therefore, a calm and collected work environment can abate delays, errors, flaws and improve the overall efficiency of the work floor. There are some key features that every bespoke design business should consider, which can improve the entire cycle.

It’s top priority for a client to limit accidents and potential lawsuits; so having up-to-date safety standards is paramount. Clients will not take on freelancers if they feel they are a safety risk, either to other people or to themselves, because they want to bad press. You will need mandatory safety gear; without it, you won’t be allowed to work for customers. You deal with heavy objects, therefore your feet must be protected. There are tried and tested work boots, like those reviewed at These boots are American made and have Good-year storm welt construction for long lasting durability. These kinds of open boots can easily be fitted for steel toe caps for extra safety.

The other necessities such as a helmet, goggles, gloves and a DIY face mask should be all part of your uniform. This safety equipment must be properly sized, therefore you may need to order items with specific body measurements before work can commence on a project. Customers will also want a clause in a contract that should you injure yourself; they are not liable to be taken to court and sued. Having this as part of your practice will entice people to work with you as they respect the fact that you know the risks and take responsibility.

Image by - Petri Krohn

Market  to an art museum

It goes without saying, that you should have already set up your website in anticipation for online orders and sales. When it comes to marketing your furniture, it bodes well with customers that you have been recognized for outstanding work. Creating bespoke furniture is a tough job, but it’s also very creative but as a freelancer you should be striving to get out of your comfort zone artistically.

Contact an art gallery and build a professional rapport with the owners and directors. By offering them your services and commissioning pieces for free which they could in turn put on display with your businesses’ credentials, could give your the much-needed publicity at such an early stage. When your furniture is on display, especially in an installation, not only are the talents of your workers on exhibition. This type of showmanship can give your business new interest from customers who value craftsmanship; these types of consumers are more willing to pay high prices for bespoke one-of-a-kind furniture.

Photo credit - Unsplash

Creating your portfolio

Each time you finish a piece, such as a table, lamp, sofa or chair, add what you have just created to a portfolio. Every time you’re hired and called out to a job, you must have with you a high-quality photography camera and lighting equipment. It’s a good idea to put in your contract for the client, that you will be taking photos of the piece you design for them. Be respectful as the personalized furniture means something important to the client. However, take the opportunity to take HD photos from every angle, showcasing your skills and talent. Put these photos on your website as part of your portfolio which displays a proven track-record for potential customers to flick through. You could also take photos or video, during the manufacturing process, from design, material purchasing, crafting and finishing. This would be a great addition to your portfolio as often times client are unsure whether to go ahead with contacting you. To help push them over the line, these photos would act as proof and reference of your ethos and work ethic, giving a clear picture from infancy to completion of a project.

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