The market levels of interiors are:
exclusive in-house designers, high-end department stores, high street, supermarket (DIY), and designer maker.
Designer maker can fall anywhere on the spectrum.
In order to distinguish between the market levels there are a number of things to take into consideration. The obvious factors are: price and where is the product being sold? If it’s available in hundreds of chain stores up and down the country, it’s likely at the lower end of the market as this would imply the product is being mass produced. In contrast, if the product is being sold in a design studio, it is safe to assume it falls in the higher end of the market. This is because a company or designer who works from only one studio/building will have a lot more time to invest in their products as they are only producing for one place. Is the product a one off? Bespoke or unique products are generally at the top end of the market. Inevitably, the higher the cost of the product the better the quality.
The vast majority of products sold in the interiors industry are fabric based, so the quality of the fabric used can make a massive difference to where the product falls in the market. Fabrics of a poor quality are more prone to damage and will inevitably wear faster; whereas fabric of a higher quality will last substantially longer. Hand in hand with the fabric comes the colour and the dye used to achieve that colour. Taking a sofa for an example; is the colour going to fade as the sofa ages and is used or is it going to remain the same? Fabric that has been dyed well will hold that colour longer than fabric that has been dyed poorly. Following the same thread, pardon the pun, if the product is embellished, how well have the embellishments been attached? Also, are there any loose threads? High end products are a lot less likely to have loose threads on show than low end products. Buttons are a classic example of embellishments and how well they are attached. As a child, my parents bought cushions for the living room that used buttons as part of the design. I don’t actually remember these buttons, I can just see evidence of where they once were on the cushions. This would imply that the cushions were not particularly high in the market as the buttons didn’t last very long.
Is the product being advertising and if yes, where/how? Products you see in TV adverts are likely to be lower in the market, as this form of advertising implies mass production; and companies at the very top end of the market generally don’t use this platform to advertise their products. Alongside advertising is the product branded? Branded products sell generally sell for more money than unbranded products and are perceived to be better quality.
Of course, there are many factors that place a designer/company into the different areas of the market; above are the ones I felt most relevant to the interiors area of the industry. Other factors include: techniques and/or processes used to achieve the final product and the skill required to execute them (the more complex and time consuming the techniques, the higher the price and/or quality); levels of innovation (how ground-breaking is the product?); trends and concepts (is the product fitting with the new fashions, so will later be out of date, or is it freestanding so that it will last?); and imagery and layout (is the quality of the imagery good? Are the lines sharp? Is the pattern straight?