Celebrity interior designer Jake Arnold’s online home-styling platform has opened doors for digital design services worldwide. The space above is styled by The Expert, the online interior design platform co-founded by celebrity designer Jake Arnold
There has been a movement towards the digital realm within the interior design world. Styling remotely, working with clients over Zoom and sending PDFs back and forth are all part of this new age of design.
The advantages are obvious and aplenty. Living anywhere in the world becomes more accessible, working with an internationally acclaimed designer is a distinct possibility and having your home redone by giving the designer a virtual walkaround is completely doable.
The Expert by Jake Arnold and Leo Seigal
This is what led international celebrity designer Jake Arnold and tech entrepreneur Leo Seigal to develop The Expert during the pandemic. The virtual platform, which launched in February, connects clients directly to interior designers around the globe via one-on-one video consultations, thus making the most prolific creatives instantly accessible to house-proud masses the world over.
“The idea for The Expert was born during lockdown, while I was in a ‘bubble’ with my best friend, Leo, I was getting hundreds of direct messages on Instagram with followers asking me to Zoom or Skype and help them with their homes. We tested a few sessions, spoke to my peers and friends in the industry, quickly got them on board, and launched with immediate interest and success.”
The Expert launched with 75 global design talents including Arnold himself. The Los Angeles heavy hitter has curated spaces for Rashida Jones, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, and Dan Levy. Other names you can access include Leanne Ford (Pittsburgh), Brigette Romanek (LA), Amber Lewis (CA), Robert Stilin (New York), Martin Brudnizki (London) and Danielle Siggerud (Copenhagen).
The USP of The Expert, and indeed remote interior design as a whole, is the versatility on offer, thanks to the varying aesthetics and budgets to suit multiple requirements.
Arnold, who is more used to dealing with household names and open-ended bank accounts, says about working with “real people” with smaller budgets: “It’s amazing to be able to connect with a greater clientele geographically, and those with varying scopes of work.
“One thing that’s common among all customers of The Expert is that they are super-engaged, as they’ve most likely been following my or our other designers’ works for some time. They’re taking meticulous notes and taking the process seriously. We’re starting to see results from our sessions, and that’s always rewarding.”
Sessions can be booked in 25 or 55-minute increments directly via a calendar on TheExpert.com. These range from $150 to $2,500, and can be as simple as needing advice on sourcing the last few furniture pieces to make a room come together.
We’re saving on travel time, we’re able to apply years of experience into a 55-minute session, we’re able to work with all budgets, and we’re able to put our touch on so many more homes. – Jake Arnold, interior designer
Of course, working remotely has its challenges, as not being able to see a home and not forging that instant connection can all affect a designer’s ability to be creative or meet a brief. It’s why Arnold says the first trick is to “break the virtual barrier” and immediately make new clients feel at home, as it were.
“Getting a glimpse into someone’s home and environment is personal; but making them feel comfortable comes naturally to a lot of designers, having worked one-on-one with various types of clients. The benefits outweigh the challenges,” he says.
“We’re saving on travel time, we’re able to apply years of experience into a 55-minute session, we’re able to work with all scopes and budgets, and we’re able to put our touch on so many more homes.”
Arnold’s advice for designers who are considering moving to an online offering is to have the client lay out their goals for the virtual consultation at the outset.
“That way, when we naturally go off on tangents, I can always steer things back on track and make sure the clock doesn’t run out without the client having achieved their goals for the session.”