What Exactly is an FF&E Designer?

By February 14, 20212019, Articles


Peering over the shoulder of an FF&E designer at work is both fascinating and mystifying. Deep pile squares of carpet and fabric swatches in various shades of colours are spread across the desk, well-thumbed catalogues adorned with brightly coloured sticky notes are stacked in piles while drapery samples jostle for space.

As an integral part of the interior design team the role of the FF&E designer is critical to the overall look and feel of the project design. They are there at the start of the project and, once the materials have been approved, are there to price, purchase and deliver the items within the programme schedule.

“We have an extensive, global supply chain that we work with and know exactly who to reach out to depending on the project we are currently working on. We identify suppliers who match the quality, price and who we know can deliver according to our timeframe,” said Joy Fernando, interior designer, Godwin Austen Johnson.

The kick off meeting brings together the client, the design team and relevant stakeholders. “This is an opportunity to go through the brief, allocate resources and discuss the design concept. It is also when we develop a working budget and formulate a plan of possible suppliers,” said Joy.

Sourcing materials and products is time consuming and will often involve a lot of back and forth to find the right products at the right price. Designing for hotels requires a team with experience working on these type of projects as it requires high quality hard-working materials to withstand the high traffic loads that these buildings accommodate year on year. Rugs need to be durable, bed linen must be of the best quality and furniture should be functional. In addition all items must be safe and must meet industry standards and regulations.

From time to time the design team will specify bespoke furniture or materials and these will be thoroughly tested before being manufactured. The FF&E team will oversee this process working directly with the supplier to create items that meet the criteria and provide the aesthetics the team is aiming for.

Communication is key and the FF&E designer will spend a lot of time working closely with the design team creating material boards, presentation and concept reports sharing their vision with stakeholders, tweaking and adjusting until it all comes together perfectly.