While we all may feel in the midst of ‘virtual insanity’, Zoom meetings are here to stay. Even as the world slowly gains more confidence in physical gatherings and events restart, online meetings and events are now an essential part of our work and personal vernacular. 2020 may not be a podium year for many of us, but it’s safe to say that Zoom has had a cracker, adding $47.9 billion to its market cap.

So if you’ve gotta do it – look good doing it! Indeed, dare we say it’s even time to embrace it. Australia’s longest running interiors trade show, Decor + Design, is going online this year with Decor + Design 360, a virtual trade exhibition showcasing the latest products and a stellar virtual International Seminar Series featuring some of the biggest names in design from around the globe – Kit Kemp, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Bobby Berk, Paloma Contreras, Abigail Ahern and more.

The seminars will be an exclusive mixture of pre-recorded footage and live Q&A. Reserve your seminar pass now to gain valuable design insights and see how the pros do it! In the meantime, here’s our guide to elevating your Zoom presence, with some handy hints from Tom Ford and James Treble…

The Designer’s Guide to Giving Good Zoom

Stack Those Coffee Table Books

Nervous about a Zoom interview with Larry David, New York Times writer Maureen Dowd asked Tom Ford for his advice on how to look good during Zoom interviews. He advised putting her laptop on a stack of books “so the camera is slightly higher than your head. Say about the top of your head. And then point it down into your eyes.”

Sketch of Tom Ford by Tracy Ma for the New York Times. Image: New York Times

At Decor + Design, one of our favourite books for stacking is Intimate by our 2020 International Seminar Series speaker David Hicks. Patterns and Colours by Greg Natale is also a meaty tome which is fit for purpose…and design superstar Martyn Lawrence Bullard practically has a library of glamorous coffee table books at your disposal.

Get stacking! Or if you’re one of those virtuous standing desk people, that could work too.

Adjust Your Lighting

After you’ve created your book stack, Ford says lighting is key. “Then take a tall lamp and set it next to the computer on the side of your face you feel is best. The lamp should be in line with and slightly behind the computer so the light falls nicely on your face. Then put a piece of white paper or a white tablecloth on the table you are sitting at but make sure it can’t be seen in the frame. It will give you a bit of fill and bounce. And lots of powder, et voilà!”

Excellent advice – although we’d argue Tom Ford doesn’t have a bad side. Or has he been carrying a tall lamp slightly to the left this entire time?

Style Your Personal Zoom Studio

Closer to home, the Australian interior design expert James Treble is an old hand at ‘the new normal’ (or as we like to think of it, the digital shift in the Zeitgeist). In addition to his extensive television work on programs like The Living Room and Open Homes Australia,  Treble presents regular design tutorials and insights on his own YouTube channel.

Treble says he’s shocked at how often people’s background lets them down, ruined by thoughtless detritus. He suggests “take the time to set up your computer’s camera and then grab your phone and take a short clip from the same camera angle, and then watch it! You’ll easily see if that laundry basket is in view or if that bookshelf or artwork needs some quick styling attention!”

“Having a cluttered or uninspiring background is a big no no for anyone in the design industry. Zoom is not the place to air your dirty laundry!”

Good. Image: James Treble

Bad. Image: PCWorld





Modulate Your Tone

Treble also says that a common mistake people make when they’re presenting on Zoom is rushing through their content.  Another boo boo is not providing feedback. Everyone may do a sneaky check of emails off camera but don’t be dead weight if you’re in a group meeting. Be present. Engage with the chat, listen actively, and give feedback once someone has finished speaking. Don’t talk over people. Basically – what works in real life, works on Zoom.

James Treble will be presenting a workshop on ‘Practical Tips for the Busy Designer’ LIVE from his Sydney studio on Wednesday 30 September from 3pm – 4pm, as part of the International Seminar Series. Designed to give you an arsenal of practical tips, James will be sharing his selection processes, how he works with clients and how he’s been dealing with the impacts of Covid.

Don’t miss Decor + Design 360, Australia’s No.1 Virtual Interiors Trade Marketplace, September 28 – October 2, 2020! It’s a chance to see the latest products, plus network and do business in a dynamic, interactive space. Register now – the exhibition is free but limited to trade visitors. However, for the first time, Seminar passes are available to both trade and the general public. We’ll be looking good online – see you there!