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BIID Conference 2018: Inside Knowledge

Written by NDA tutor, Stephen Matthewman-Knowles

On Thursday, 8th November, I attended the annual BIID Conference, Inside Knowledge. This year’s focus was about success in business. As usual, there was an illustrious line up of influential leaders for the industry. For those who are unfamiliar with BIID, it is the recognised professional body within the interior design industry that aims to provide the benchmark for professionalism.

This year’s key speakers were wide-ranging and spoke about a number of different issues that are relevant to the industry right now. Below are some brief highlights of the day overall. I would encourage you to explore the many different people who were involved in making this day an engaging and informative experience.

First up was the influential and well-known hotelier and interior designer, Olga Polizzi, design director of Rocco Hotels. During her interview with the editor of Studio magazine’s Kate Burnett, she discussed her own personal design journey, some of her career highlights. As well as explaining her much-admired design philosophy.

Olga Polizzi


Next to speak was the renowned interior designer John Evans. Having spent a lifetime in the industry running his own practice, John is someone worth listening to. He discussed the notion of dividing your company can transform the productivity. John expanded on the idea with a demonstration of his work, which detailed how the residential work was undertaken, was dealt with John Evans Interior Architecture Ltd, whilst the commercial work is now handled through JE+1. In doing this, John has benefited from having a constant supply of work, if either of the two sectors takes a downturn.

John Evans


Other conversations that took place included the idea of designers ‘finding their niche market’ amongst the guest contributors here was Rhian Barker of Accounter Design. Who expanded on her niche of being able to turn round a project in just 15 days. Additionally, there was a talk given by Seana Clarke of Holland Green Architects & Interiors, highlighting the benefit of integrating the services of both architect and the interior designer. As well as another very interesting couple of discussions about SKA assessment and a client perspective of working with interior designers.

Rhian Barker


One other panel discussion that really was quite fascinating, was the section on ‘the App that changed my life’. Something that I feel all interior designers can relate too. However, it was interesting to hear others discuss the merits of different tools that have made a real difference to the way in which they run their business. There were the usual suspects amongst those mentioned, including Instagram and Pinterest, although there were a few that I hadn’t come across, such as SketchFab, Kubity and Basecamp. All of which provided an insight into how a certain application can prove invaluable to a particular designer. Which goes to show in an industry such as this, there is never a time you won’t find yourself learning something new.

Overall it was an informative and enriching day out the office, which highlighted many of the issues that concern the industry today. There is something for everyone within the BIID conference, proving that you can never afford to switch off when practising in this profession. Finally, I would like to give a very big thank you to my fellow tutor at the academy, Ciara Langley, who very kindly offered me her guest ticket. Something I hope that I won’t be needed next year as I will be buying my own ticket and strongly encourage you all to do the same.

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