Not just a wallflower: Technology and Modern Nests

|February 29, 2016 0
From being the proverbial needle in this haystack to a needle that moves directions, technology seems to be building up modern nests with a totally different mettle these days

Pratima H

MUMBAI, INDIA: Virtual headsets to get a real feel of what the house would actually feel like? Dashboards on mobile updates to see how much that wall has come up to? Costing calculators with better visibility?

Now, what would an interior design firm or buyer have to do with technology? Unless the conversation is about self-healing curtains or flying carpets or mood-sensing walls; may be.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Turns out there’s so more to technology than being just another piece of furniture in the big scheme of post-impressionist curation, porcelain wonders, modular cupboards, oriental layouts and more.

Nestopia, a start-to-end interior design and build service provider, tells us that it is incorporating technology in a new flavour and function altogether.

There is the Virtual Reality (VR) headset, an Online-to-Offline (O2O) platform, advanced technology tools endowing customers with a wide range of choices to design and execute their dream home, design dashboards, estimation tools and lot more at play and design here.
We try to get a sense of this modern mise-en-scene with Harsh Jain, Founder, Nestopia, and see just when and where technology ceased being a blank frame in the background.

Tell us how and where interior design is tapping technology and whether it is indeed working with new outcomes?

Technology in what we do is beyond just brochures, floor plan charts and booklets to aid customers design their home. Now we are not just tapping technology but integrating it deeply with things like Style Finder, Real-Time Dashboard, Cost Estimator and Virtual tools so that end consumers are empowered to visualise and explore designs for their space using an intuitive process. If users can experiment with various patterns, colours, textures, material and product options to get an actual feel of placement, space utilization and theme in their ‘real’ living environment; then you can imagine what it means for the ultimate results.

What’s your model here?

We have a world-class team of designers, project managers and consultants so we find the most suitable professionals from a large network of interior designers, architects, furniture designers and general contractors for the project. This match making process happens after a detailed analysis of the customer’s requirement through project coordinators and site visits. With that done, customized proposals are submitted by the top 3 shortlisted professionals along with estimated budgets. Next come in detailed design presentations with mood board, 3-D layout and a virtual reality demo followed by cost estimator tools that helps customer with a complete idea and insight.

Once the customer freezes a proposal and a professional, we ensure that every aspect of the project is executed and delivered as planned and the dashboard updates customers in real-time about the project and processes.

Uber-isation works wonders but is it easy to re-invent this industry with that approach?

Since people can be peculiar about certain designers, so pure uberisation is tough but we try to bring in lot of people on both the sides. We work with designers, material sellers, contractors etc and add a new level of transparency, standardised rates, structure, time discipline and agility to the whole ecosystem. Every home is unique and if can bring in quality and execution excellence here, that just changes a lot. Capturing requirements with accuracy and timeliness itself is a small part that transforms everything, specially if 500 data-points, real-time data and multiple nuances can be lined up well. Once design and requirements are frozen, we are able to assure that if the plan stays intact, the timelines are adhered to without too much wastage, re-work, delays, aberrations and in a strongly project-driven manner.

Is it easy to iron out the quintessentially unorganised nature of this industry?

Dealing with designers, material sellers is not the same as dealing with clients. They have been in this industry for years, and we pick them up and onboard them with a rigor that is fresh and timely. Customers might have expectations and may need hand-holding. For designers, this is a good platform if they can close the enquiries and anticipate a steady pipeline of work. Ours is not an on-demand business but a structured one. We are more of a business enabler for professionals and this is a platform to showcase their experience and portfolio and get projects that match their skill sets and expertise.

Moreover, the automated management system turns the project execution part into an extremely organized and smooth one enabling professionals to also get assistance and exclusive discounts for procurement of products and materials.

What makes this different from what Dwell, HomeLane, Décor etc or even high-couture-street designers have been up to?

Most of them are into furniture space or use third-party designers but we are into the end-to-end game that includes everything like plumbing, civil work, flooring etc. Can we service the middle-strata clientele with what high-end designers have been offering, yes, if the plan fits into the budget? For us, design is not a constraint unless the material and requirements are well sorted.

How do cost estimator tools and algorithms work here?

In any project, if the requirement-gathering is not up to the mark, then everything gets affected. Technology can deliver savings of precious working days when used smartly. Clients get to see quick dashboards, escalated metrics, fast updates, and use intuitiveness and agility to new levels. The tools also come into play well. From assessing how much the project will cost and setting a budget accordingly to covering account design costs, labour costs, material costs, etc. as well as material and installation costs to give customers an estimated figure of how much furbishing their space will cost; we try to bring in a new grip to the process.

For instance, our tool allows for simple select and deselect methods of adding an interior design feature to the estimate presenting the optimal finish that matches both aesthetic sensibilities and budget. When estimations are accurate based on design aspects, speed will come in automatically. VR too is being tapped to let a user feel/see the home before it shapes up. It’s a new category and we want to make a difference to this industry which is embracing new changes with a new vigour.

Do you see smart-homes settling in soon in India?

The luxury home segment is already witnessing lot of smart-home ingredients like kitchens, blankets, mattresses etc., and that’s the way to go. Humans are getting lazier every day so everything will become smart eventually. Next five years would be the ones watching out for, and smart-homes can go pretty main-stream soon but not in a mass-scale manner.

What has been the progress so far and what next?

We aim to incorporate service design, a form of conceptual design into what we do. This involves the activity of planning and organizing communication and material components of a service to improve its quality and the interaction between service provider and customers. This means adding tangible or intangible aspects to the services and making it user-centric and personalized. Overall, after covering Mumbai and Pune, we are planning for Ahmedabad, Bangalore and NCR next. Some 200 projects are expected for 2016 and we are on-boarding new players, like carpenters soon. We can completely automate the entire span, from requirement-capture, to proposal, to weekly updates to 3D visibility.

No Comments so fars

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.