Custom, Is It Worth It?

Custom, Is It Worth It?

Designers are constantly looking for new and unique items, wanting to design spaces reflective of their clients and their needs. Often when selecting from commodity items, there simply aren’t enough unique designs to choose from. Most off-the-shelf items tend to look the same, feel the same and perform with nominal differences at best. 

Typically, the only way for an architect or interior designer to have a truly unique piece is to go to a specialist — a custom manufacturer or industrial design firm — to assist in the design and engineering of a custom built solution, whatever the application may be.  When it comes to larger-scale spaces, it can be incredibly difficult to find appropriate readily-available items that fit the space proportionately. This is why commissioning custom work is most effective in satisfying both the spatial requirements, and the architect/designer/client’s needs.

Generally, the cost of going custom will be higher than that of a ready-to-order item.  As a designer or salesperson, you must first find out if the client/purchaser wants any or all of the following:

  • Something specific and unique from any catalog offering.

  • Something hand crafted, and built specifically to fit the space in mind rather than just being the closest standard size available.

  • Something built to a higher standard of quality than an off-the-shelf offering.

In addition to these three points, you will also need to determine whether or not the client is willing to spend more to get exactly what they want.

The most compelling reason to choose custom fixtures, furnishings, or other architectural products is that the piece will be hand crafted with the designer’s creative ideas and unique specifications, such as materials, sizes, and finishes. Some custom manufacturers offer exclusivity on commissioned designs, which is of particular interest to luxury brands who hold on tightly to their brand identity.

Keep in mind the following when proposing a custom built product.


In some spaces, only a custom fixture will fill the space appropriately, or will perform a certain function correctly. Technical or aesthetic considerations will come into play. Quality, craftsmanship, precision, and high quality finishes executed by a company renowned for its thoughtful design, extraordinary production capabilities, and innovation are important considerations for many high-end projects. 


Many clients want to maintain the perception that their space is unique and rare; that the materials and finishes used are scarce, and are perceived as a higher quality than those used by their competitors. Is the proposed design new, innovative and one of a kind? Will your client see it in other lesser brands establishments?  Is the manufacturer practiced with higher-quality materials? These are all important considerations.


Often clients that would entertain purchasing custom items have a rich history and pedigree that are an inseparable part of the brand’s mystique. This mystique is often built around a legendary founder character of the past, making up an integral part of the brand story and brand personality. When proposing a custom piece, the pedigree of the company making it is important.  Do they have a successful history? Can they deliver the required quality that is aligned with the pedigree of the client?


Often the end-user is looking for a custom items that will align with the image of their brand. Does the proposed design fit within the client’s brand identity? Does it capture the personality of the space? Use of brand colors and other design elements (symbols, logos, etc) add to a uniquely identifiable design in the branded environment.

You can rest assured that when you order custom-built architectural products and finishes from a respected manufacturer, you’re getting products crafted with an impeccably level of attention to detail and special care. The process of designing a custom piece is usually a fairly straightforward process — designing the piece, engineering, prototype mock-ups, and selection and sampling of materials and finishes. By using the latest available technology, a custom manufacturer can build the perfect product to suit your needs, and do so in a manner that will ensure that the end product will last a lifetime.

One of the most important things to pay attention to when selecting a manufacturer is how intently they listen to your needs. They should keep in touch during every step of the process, and allow you to tweak your designs as necessary to fit the budget. Fortunately, there are a number of great companies out there that truly care about making you and your client happy, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find a company that is efficient and communicative.

Lastly, custom manufactured products will cost more than something mass-produced. This can be a disadvantage when a designer is considering proposing a custom offering, however, one perfectly-suited piece can be a substitute for several mass-produced pieces, which can end up being close to the same overall cost.

Each custom project is unique, with very specific goals and measures, and designers and salespeople must be willing to work with an experienced manufacturer in order to achieve the intended result.  It will take a bit more work to design and sell the idea of custom work to many clients, but the satisfaction of having created a perfect and lasting solution that fits the ideals of the client is significant.

Custom design costs more.  Is it worth it to the client? The importance of the benefits of designing custom have to be taken into consideration early in the design process in order to have the best experience.