What is FF&E Design? - Easy Guide for beginners through our BlackBerg collection

Have you always wondered what FF & E Design is exactly? Not surprising that you were having these thoughts as FF & E often comes off as a mystery - especially if you are not coming from the design world or you are just beginning your career in interior design.

Maybe you are thinking of choosing one specific aspect of this profession, maybe you are only curious if it is for you, or you are in the midst of renovating your own house...That’s when you figure out what is FF & E design exactly and it clicks. It can be something utterly exciting and a part you don’t necessarily know about.

Let us explain what consists of FF & E and how Bergman, as a company, is looking at this aspect of work, as we can assure you - it is one of our passions and soon you will see why.

Let’s begin.

What is FF & E Design?

FF & E stands for Fabrics, furniture and equipment design that have no permanent connection to the structure of the building. But in reality it is so much more. Most people would think FF & E in general means interior styling and make no mistake - it can be a part of it, but…

FF & E is the part of the design process that we may call the heart and soul of the project as you can determine a space’s character by choosing the right items, colors and schemes.

When you design this way, you are responsible for every piece of furniture, lighting, fabrics and overall scheme from start to finish.

May Fair House - Full Renovation, FF & E selected, designed and procured by Bergman Design House

What does it mean?

It can mean various things, but let’s start with the furniture, shall we?

You are either selecting an original item and making sure the piece fits the space perfectly (measurements are crucial, when designing) or designing a piece from scratch. Did you just say scratch? Yes.

When we are talking about what is FF & E Design and what does and FF & E Designer do, product design is one of the main elements of the job. You have to be able to envision a piece of furniture and then hand-sketch it or visualise it digitally.

FF & E designers are masters of quick sketches and fast space planning, therefore you need to be able to quickly catch up on the given design brief and create a space that is matching the overall idea.

When it comes to designing furniture it shouldn’t be any different. The details and the overall character of the piece should speak about the story of the space or project you are working on.

How can it be done?

First of all, you should always work closely with the architects/ Interior architects, in order to understand their vision and plans of the project, so you can blend yours in and create a seamless story. Then you should do your research and understand certain aesthetics, colors and materials in order to design the perfect piece. It may sound like a lot when you are starting out, but the more experience you gain, the faster you will become.

Throughout this article, you will see examples of our upcoming BlackBerg Collection, as well as finished projects to understand the role of an FF & E Designer best.

We have designed the furniture, now what?

We have scratched the surface. Bear in mind that when furniture is selected and designed, the layouts are already done...Or at least we have a version of them, which we can work with. This is why working with the architectural team is extremely important, as space planning is always a team effort.


Easy. We have to think of functionality as much as we think of beauty and the best way to do that, also to understand certain areas - we need to look for people with a different point of view. This way we will be able to determine and create a perfect layout based on these points:

  1. The Client’s brief
  2. The Design Concept
  3. Functionality
  4. Aesthetics

One cannot go without the other, however Functionality and your Client’s desires should always be your priority. Once those needs have met, you can go to the fun part and wonder about the Concept and Aesthetics. Our personal favourite.

BlackBerg Collection - Casegood, Upholstery

What’s next in FF & E Design?

With an approved layout and selected furniture, you can jump onto the next part, which (if you ask us) is even more fun - selecting materials and fabrics. Now that you have the skeleton of the project, you can add character to it and make sure that your vision of the brief is coming alive.

What are the key elements to look at?

First of all, you should always think of the impression you want to give, when looking for fabrics and finishes. Once you know that, you can determine color stories, materials and an overall look and feel to make sure you are communicating the right feelings to anyone who enters the room.

You need to think, if you have to design a masculine, feminine or a neutral scheme to start with. Having that in mind, you already have an idea of the colors and materials you wish to add, as well as the undertones. If there is one thing you always need to be mindful of, as an FF & E designer it is undertones. To fully understand this statement, let me use an example from our BlackBerg collection to show you the difference between a feminine piece and a masculine one.

what is FF&E Design 1

BlackBerg Sofa - Masculine

what is FF&E Design 2

BlackBerg Sofa - Feminine


If you look at these pieces, you can clearly tell which one has been designed for a more feminine space and which one belongs to a more masculine one. Yes, the color helps obviously. But this is when we get back to the details and have to take a second look at why certain colors and shapes were chosen.

If you look at the blue sofa, it is more bulky and has a solid shape. The off-white sofa has subtle, irregular curves as well as a really soft self-piping that pillars around the curves. The dark-stained timber legs and base are creating the perfect frame for this design.

This is the way you should always look at individual pieces, as well as spaces.

  1. Have the overall idea
  2. Decide on the impression
  3. Break it down to color stories, finishes and materials
  4. Find the one that compliments each other individually, then scale up for the whole space
  5. Pivot and repeat (if/when needed)

Moving forward with FF & E Design:

Now that we have the layout, the furniture and the fabrics we can move on to documenting and production.

When you think of what is ff & e design, you have to know that it does not end at the desk drawing and selecting furniture and fabrics. FF & E Designers are responsible for shop drawings and working closely with manufacturers to make sure that every piece of furniture has been produced perfectly.

It is one of the most important parts of the process, as this is when they have the chance to spot any mistakes that have been made or do last minute changes - if needed. Once everything is approved, production begins. What happens from here?

Final FF & E touches in a project:

With the production in place, FF & E designers are constantly checking every piece and detail, if they are done correctly. They are the ones going to the manufacturers, approving samples and mock-up pieces, before mass production begins. It is especially important when we are talking about hospitality projects, where sometimes hundreds of pieces are produced from the same product.

Once everything has been approved, installation begins and the FF & E designers move on-site from their desks. They are present at every installation, making sure the pieces are where they should be, as well as double-checking quality.

When everything is in its place, that’s when they style the space with the previously selected / designed accessories to add the final touches and characters to the space, and voilá! A new project has been finished!

May Fair House - Full Renovation, FF & E done by Bergman Design House

Summary of What is FF & E Design:

It may sound like a very complex job and we will not lie - it is not simple. However, we believe it is one of the most fun parts of designing with so much reward in place. Seeing design concepts becoming reality, as well as working on custom products for certain clients and projects have been our passion for years, hence why we are launching our own furniture collection - BlackBerg.

We will be sharing more of our upcoming furniture collection, as well as details and tips on how FF & E design works and how you can become a successful FF & E Designer.

Tell us in the comments what your favourite part of FF & E design is, we would love to hear from you!

...And if you are eager and cannot wait to see more of our projects, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Pinterest, where we share all of our projects, as well as how we work behind the scenes. We hope to see you there!