Inside Knowledge 2017

Session 8: Mark-ups and handling fees – A financial and ethical time bomb?

30 Euston Square June 8, 2017 3:30 pm - 4:45 pm

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Susie Rumbold
Colin Jones
David Keirle
Rachel Smart

Fees can be one of the trickiest areas of a design business to get right – and the issue of mark-ups and handling fees related to the supply of furnishings, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) is one that can be a minefield. This panel discussion will address this issue head on.

The traditional approach to fees for consumer clients was often to charge minimal design and project administration fees, whilst making much of the income from a project from the mark-up on supplying products sourced direct from suppliers. In recent years many designers have moved to a professional consultancy model, rather than a retail model, and a huge variety of different pricing structures and business models have been adopted. At the same time, the internet has brought with it a new era of transparency, giving consumers direct access to products, and information about pricing, that did not exist a decade ago.

For this session, to try and bring some clarity to this extremely complex issue, our speakers will address two key questions:

First: If interior designers work on a percentage-based model when they supply furnishings and fixtures, (whether retailing direct to the client or sourcing as an agent) does this create any professional conflicts of interest (or perceived conflicts of interest) for their clients?

Second: What fee structure should designers aim for to ensure they are compensated properly for their time and expertise, work to high ethical standards and have a viable long term business model?


  • Susie Rumbold (Chair), founder of Tessuto Interiors and President of the British Institute of Interior Design
  • Colin Jones, partner at Hewitsons solicitors and co-author of the BIID CID/14 Concise Agreement
  • David Keirle, founder and chairman of KSS architects and co-owner and chairman of Fox Linton Interior Designers from 2010 to 2015
  • Rachel Smart, founder of Rachel Smart Ltd, design business consultant and strategist