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HomePolish: Design for the Masses

By Dwell @dwell
Professional designers at rates even those with a modest budget can afford—sounds too good to be true. Yet that is exactly what young New York startup HomePolish has been doing across the city for the last year. Demand for their services is high (there is currently a waitlist for future clients) and with over 500 projects under their belt, it’s not hard to see why. Slideshow HomePolish design services

Noa Santos, founder of HomePolish. Photo by Chellise Michael Photography.

We sat down with founder Noa Santos recently to learn more about HomePolish and how they’re able to lock in great design at such manageable prices. A former designer himself, Santos now works on HomePolish business development full-time and has big plans for its future.

How would you describe the typical HomePolish client?

Savvy. Fashion or finance, a girl in her twenties or a couple in their forties, the one characteristic that unites our hundreds of clients is that they're savvy—and they want a designer who understands that. They don't want strange fees or secret commissions, HomePolish clients get good design and appreciate the value of good business. They work with us because we believe in and deliver on both.

It's easy to see the draw for clients, but what are some of the benefits that attract designers to HomePolish (versus striking out on their own)?

Besides the opportunity to run their own design business without the worries of acquiring new clients, billing them, managing insurance and liability, and dealing with legal work? Nothing really.

How do you scout new designers?

Will (my cofounder) and I are maniacs when it comes to the quality of our design team. In the beginning it started with designers I specifically sought out, hypnotized, and coerced into joining. Now as buzz is growing, we get a lot of talent from top tier firms applying. So I only hypnotize for fun.

Last we spoke, you said "interior design is a lifestyle, not a luxury." (Love that!) How does this translate to HomePolish's MO?

Rather than barging in and telling a client how to live, the design process for us begins with first understanding how a client wants to live. Maybe you don't need a dining table if you have frequent cocktail parties. Maybe extra seating is more important if you love to organize movie nights with friends. What's most exciting about this industry is the potential it has to positively impact a life in so many ways—that's a responsibility we don't take lightly.

You also said you hope to change the environment of the interior design industry. How would you describe it in its current state and how would you like to see it transform?

What's wrong with the industry? How much time do you have?

The short of it is that people deserve homes they don't just like, but ones they love, are obsessed with, can't wait to drag their new friends into and force into admiring their collection of vintage horticultural prints. And that kind of happiness shouldn't be about money. That's where we come in.

The second short of it is that talented designers deserve a voice and a community. A voice they are free to develop and a design community that is there to excite, engage and support. That's where we come in.

You've been fortunate to grow at a rapid clip. What's coming up next for the HomePolish team?

Well we're obviously working on world domination but, in the meantime, we're opening a DC office and recruiting in other cities. I heard recently that there are quite a few homes across the country so we have our work cut out for us.

Click through the slideshow for more from Noa on some of his favorite HomePolish projects and some takeaway design tips.

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