When it comes to sourcing materials for your next project, a good old-fashioned phone call to a resource librarian is the way to go. Here are 9 reasons why:
1) Time and Money
Let’s start with the two most important factors.
As an interior designer or architect, your goal is to deliver projects on time – and on budget. When searching for materials on Google, you’ll likely experience sticker (and calendar) shock.
For example, we just worked with a firm to source back-painted glass. They called on our resource librarian services after finding back-painted glass online for $75/square foot with an 8-week delivery time.
Our resource librarian made a few calls and found a vendor who could source it at $55/square foot with 5-day delivery.
2) Inspiration vs. Information
“I’ll just do a Google Image search for inspiration.”
Your intentions are good; however, inspiration doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Even if you’re “just looking,” a certain material will catch your eye. Then, you’ll go into a Google spiral searching for that exact material. Your search for inspiration is now a hunt for product information.
If you want to be inspired, ask your resource librarian to put together a vendor tradeshow for you. Based on your project, the resource librarian can bring in reps from up to 5 non-competing companies. Can Google do that?
3) The Big Let Down
Ask any resource librarian, this happens all too often…
You’ve just discovered a stunning Italian porcelain tile during a Google search. You’re so in love (and are sure the client will be, too), that you incorporate that tile into your rendering. Except there’s one problem. The tiles can’t be shipped to the U.S.
Let your resource librarian spare you – and your client – the heartache.
Our job as a resource librarian company is to only show you materials within your project parameters.
4) Google Can’t Provide Value Engineering (VE)
Using Google Image search won’t help you find similar – yet lower priced – material options.
In fact, your materials resource library isn’t always the best place to get your VE on. Why spend hours rummaging through drawers and binders? Call your resource librarian, who can put you in direct contact with 4-5 vendors who can provide VE options.
Even if you find great pricing online, a resource librarian can often get you a better value.
We had one client come to us lamenting the fact that her “dream material” – a glass mosaic tile that could withstand heavy foot traffic – was $45/square foot. It was out of her client’s price range. Or, so she thought.
After talking with the appropriate sales rep, and connecting with the right distributor, we negotiated a price that was 78% lower. The glass mosaic tile was just $10/square foot based on a 5,000 square foot order. Now, she was the hero to her client.
Value engineering is always a conversation with your resource librarian – not a Google search.
5) The Day 2 Scenario
We’ve seen situations where a commercial interior designer “scores a bargain” on a product they found on Google.
Their elation fades on “Day 2,” when their client loves that carpeting so much, they want to order another 3 floors worth. The designer rushes back to the online source, only to find the carpet has been discontinued.
Many times, bargain pricing is the result of a discontinued line. Many online retailers don’t disclose that; the materials reps we work with always will.
The good news is that your resource librarian can contact their reps to custom-manufacture a carpet that matches the original. This takes time. Avoid this scenario by resisting the temptation of online bargain hunting. Start with your resource librarian, first.
6) Information Overload
You can’t sort for relevancy on Google. At least not yet.
In the future, perhaps AI can help sift through the thousands of irrelevant search results. For now, there’s your resource librarian.
Searching for “commercial oil rubbed bronze light fixtures”? A Google search pulls up over 1.2 million options. Happy searching!
One of most valuable services a resource librarian can provide is streamlining your materials search. Wouldn’t 5-6 light fixture options be more manageable?
7) Losing Touch
Just as social media isn’t a substitute for real-life friendships, digital images can’t replace tactile product samples. The touch and feel of a material can’t be replicated online.
Of course, searching through a digital materials database prepared by a resource librarian is a great place to start. But eventually you’ll need to get your hands on the material – that’s where your resource librarian can help (and Google can’t).
8) Stalking Sales Reps
A resource librarian doubles as a gatekeeper. While most of the sales reps we work with are valuable sources of information, some are overly enthusiastic about their products. There’s a reason you have to fill out a contact form to get a price quote online. The rep wants to give you the price – and make a sale, too.
Unless you like dealing with eager sales reps, let your resource librarian field the sales pitches.
9) Looks Aren’t Everything
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but Photoshop helps. Celebrities doctor their photos, and so do many product lines. A resource librarian can sort fact from fiction by providing real samples and images of products.
Your resource librarian can also dig deeper into material performance. For example, we recently worked with a retail architect who needed flooring with a residential look and feel. Yet, the material needed to hold up to weekly foot traffic of 150,000+ people. It’s not an off the shelf product, nor is it meant to be.
All of us at Streamline Material Resourcing use Google daily. It’s a powerful tool – when used correctly. We hope the next time you need a material for your project, you’ll call your resource librarian first. Before heading into the wilds of Google on the hunt for a material, remember, it’s easy to get lost.