Laurel & Wolf brings interior design into the digital age


Ever felt like changing your interior but no time and experience to do it yourself? Worried that it becomes too expensive when allowing stylists design your space? Inspired by all the inspirational boards and images of designs popping up on websites like Pinterest and Instagram? No matter what the exact reason may be, Laurel & Wolf offers the perfect solution for all your designer needs at affordable prices.

Laurel & Wolf – What is it?
L&W, founded in 2014, took advantage of the increasing popularity in interior design, while at the same time recognizing the cost and effort involved in finding and hiring a designer. Due to the traditional pricing system of interior design services, 98% of people could not afford them and L&W found a way to change this radically (L&W, 2017). The company transformed the entire interior design industry by launching their online platform, connecting professional designers with customers, allowing them to design tailored interiors for commercial and residential spaces (Perez, 2015). The platform offers access to worldwide high-quality design partners in return for a one-time flat fee from its customers. As such, the company makes professional interior design available to all.

How does it work?
L&W provides a platform whereby designers can participate in projects demanded by customers. The platform includes communication tools for interaction between designers and customers, and third party manufacturers can offer their products and services to both parties. Customers pay a flat fee and provide personal information to the platform including a style quiz, marking highly desired items and photos of their space (i.e. passive information-based individualization). In return, the platform provides customers with around six 2D digital style boards from professional stylists who created personalized designs for their space (Perez, 2015). From those style boards, customers can select their favorite, and interact directly with the respective stylist to add modifications (i.e. active consumer involvement).

Result?
The final result is a shopping list which includes all items of the preferred digital style board (including modifications). This shopping list fits into the indicated budget of the customer.

Efficiency Criteria
L&W is a two-sided personalized platform connecting designers to customers seeking a new, but affordable design (Rysman, 2009). This value system is considered efficient since it maximizes joint profitability of both parties involved (Carson et al., 1999). On the customer side, their unmet need is utilized by allowing for easy, efficient and low cost designs. Customers get served with a small number of designed inspiration boards based on their indicated preferences which reduces choice overload and thus increases efficiency. Moreover, time effort is reduced by using an online platform instead of the need to manually browse and look for design websites or shops. Last, by paying a relatively low, flat flee and indicating a maximum budget on shopping items, costs are minimized. From the designers’ perspective, designers get access to a new customer base, enhancing their career prospects. A designers’ profession can be highly insecure in terms of working opportunities and the L&W platform provides a constant stream of customers. Revenue for the L&W platform is generated by 20% of the flat design fee paid by customers and through affiliate revenues on online sales (Perez, 2015).

Regarding the institutional arrangements, it is important for the platform to guarantee high-quality designs. To assure this, designers are screened and evaluated extensively before being allowed to join the platform. In addition, the platform offers the ability for customers to rate and review designers. Assessing the legal institutional environment, the platform is subject to the threat of misuse of intellectual property. Customers might take advantage of other designers’ work and present it as if it is theirs. To circumvent this, the platform grants intellectual property rights (IPRs) as protection against the creators of designs by letting each participant in the platform sign an ‘End User License Agreement and Terms of Service’ (L&W, 2017). As such, interests between the designers and wider public are balanced and creativity is stimulated (WIPO, 2016).

What’s in it for the Future?
Currently, only 2 years after its foundation, the company grew to over 60 employees with a marketplace of more than 1,000 interior designers. The company is named as one of Business Insider’s ‘Los Angeles Start-ups to Watch’ and published in magazines as Forbes and TechCruch Inc (L&W, 2017). Clearly, L&W has disrupted the traditional model of the interior design industry and this is only yet beginning to pay off..

 

References
Carson, S. J., Devinney, T. M., Dowling, G. R., & John, G. (1999). Understanding Institutional Designs Within Marketing Value Systems. Journal of Marketing, 115-130.

Laurel & Wolf (2017). About Us. From: https://www.laurelandwolf.com/about-us [Accessed: February 25, 2017].

Laurel & Wolf (2017). End User License Agreement and Terms of Service. From: https://www.laurelandwolf.com/terms-of-service [Accessed: February 26, 2017].

Rysman, M. (2009). The Economics of Two-Sided Markets. Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol 23 (3), pp. 125-143.

Tsekouras, D. (2017). ‘Lecture 1: Introduction to Value Co-creation. Customer-centric Digital Commerce, Rotterdam School of Management [Accessed: 1 March 2017].

World Intellectual Property Rights Organization (2017). About Intellectual Property. From: http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/ [Accessed: 26 February, 2017].

 

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