Do you use the fact you are an architect to get any discount in stores to purchase furniture, paint or other building materials?


Any tricks to share to save money? What store usually work, what doesn't?

Jan 7, 05 12:44 pm

Just ask a store if they give discounts to the profession. If you want to buy something, usually all it takes is your business card as proof.
Discounts vary, but you can save a ton on high end stuff.

Jan 7, 05 12:55 pm

furniture, yes. paint and other bldg materials, no.

Jan 7, 05 12:58 pm

where did you get furniture?

Jan 7, 05 1:18 pm
R.A. Rudolph

I've come across several paint stores that offer a designer discount, including Vistapaint, Dunn-Edwards and Jilll's Paint (local to LA). They ususally don't advertise so you have to ask. In general, retail stores that sell to homeowners don't offer disounts, while stores that sell mostly or exclusively to the "trade" (architects, contractors, designers, interior designers) will offer discounts. I've had some luck with furniture, but not all stores offer discounts, not much luck w/hardware, great luck with bath fixtures & accessories.

Jan 7, 05 2:31 pm
R.A. Rudolph

Also, in general Lumber yards don't offer discounts, but if you go straight to a supplier (for example we now buy all our lumber through Jones Lumber in LA, which supplies to Terry Lumber) their prices are better than what you can get retail.

Jan 7, 05 2:33 pm

herman miller sells most of their furniture to architects for 52%
off list...and i would imagine discounts may be more depending
on numbers...i got an eames lounge chair and ottoman for 2000
after taxes..and an eames plywood chair for 255 or so...

Jan 7, 05 3:16 pm

Sometime just looking like a pro and using the lingo will work. When I was in school and needed materials like acrylic or hardwood, I'd get out my aluminum clipboard and steel toed boots and bingo, professional discount.

Jan 7, 05 3:37 pm

to larslarson, how do you go about receiving this 52% discount? does it have to be for a project, or personal, or does it matter? seems too good to be true...

please enlighten me, i am moving and need to fill some rooms with stuff so it looks like someone actually lives there, rather than in the office.

Jan 7, 05 7:44 pm


Herman Miller has a professional discount program that I bought an Eames LCW through (yes for about half of the DWR price!) and a local lumber yard gives me contractor pricing because they usually supply most of the materials on the projects we design. I have also replaced a Pella sliding door screen and bought Ben Moore paint at discount.

I have also looked into the trade programs Wolf and Fisher Paykel have going but that stuff is still out of reach even at discount...

As to how to get the discount - ask for it. It does help to be friendly with the rep. and to have specified the product often but if you don't know the rep. bring along a business card and have them call your boss to confirm you work in the trade if they are hesitant.

Jan 7, 05 8:06 pm

talk to your nearest handy dandy herman miller rep...
they'll set you up. and it can be personal or project don't really have to tell them...just specify
the chair you want colors, material, type and tell them
you're an architect...produce a card or the like from your
work..and voila discount.

Jan 7, 05 9:53 pm

sorry didn't realize daver had said basically the same thing at
the end of his post..

Jan 7, 05 9:53 pm

I am angling to get a discount on a 2 bed flat in residential scheme I am project architect for. The developer may offer a 5% discount, and 5% of £220k is not insignificant. I'll know more when my design is finished.

Jan 8, 05 5:16 am


Meile -- Professional discount is between 40 to 60% off list. Basically you can get a Meile wonder-kind appliance for the same price as a domestic brand (GE).

Jan 8, 05 8:12 am


FYI...Herman Miller will NOT sell direct to anyone, regardless of being a design professional. You MUST go through a reseller, who will be more than happy to give you the "A&D Contract Discount" which is most defintely not 52% in all cases (often far less).

For example, I have a quote from my local rep here for an Aeron chair with AD Discount. This is not a stripper Aeron, but with full adjustment (without posture-fit add-on, however):


Same chair at DWR is $869

AD discount savings around 34%.

Best of luck everyone, Herman Miller always has been great to me and seems to enjoy working with architects.

Jan 8, 05 3:39 pm

Kwal Paint in Denver (owned by Sherwin Williams) offers 40% off to architects / specifiers.

Aug 19, 14 12:24 pm

You can get discounts on some things from some sources because of membership in professional societies.

However, we sometimes don't get discounts on building materials and such like construction contractors unless we are construction contractors. Depends on the vendor wanting to check on contractor license. Contractor discount is sort of a bulk discount because the purchase is in volume needed for constructing buildings.

As for getting discounts as design professionals, some vendors will do that as a means of enticing us to specify their products in the project. This wouldn't be something we use on ourselves so much.

Aug 19, 14 12:31 pm

Years ago “Trade-discount” really meant something. Things were sold either wholesale or retail and you needed a “ticket” or license to get in. Today almost everybody will sell to anyone and it hasn’t been good for the business. I have gotten in tangles on itemized change-orders where clients check items at their own sources that have been less than trade-discount. I have also had small project/clients exclude all variety of things from projects because they belong to Direct-Buy or something and the internet is a big problem. This kind of stuff is a nightmare when the semi pulls-up and Stephanie in her pretty pink dress cant get the refrigerator off the truck and who installs, sends it back if wrong or services things as simple as a floppy door lever? I had to exclude the option in my contracts and clients didn’t like it.

For personal things read above, most building things come with some discount, they seem to throw that around like candy. The biggest is furniture, somehow the interiors industry has kept the lock on things and do offer big discounts to architects. The Chicago Merchandise Mart and regional marts offer huge discounts to trade with a little signing-up involved.

Aug 19, 14 1:45 pm

i used my aia mem card to get a 10% discount on a rental :D, ah the perks!!!

Aug 19, 14 4:52 pm

^Gonna have to jump on that!  I thought I was committing highway robbery getting a tiny discount on some building supplies a while back, gonna have to throw the title around a little more and see if I can get a free mint next time...

Aug 19, 14 5:49 pm

Not everyone is affiliated with AIA, but: It may be worth while sending a request to AIA National asking to advocate for discounts...most organizations work to find ways to help offset the cost of organization membership. Currently, the AIA website indicates only a few discounts on office supplies and car rentals.

Apr 16, 19 8:02 pm
( o Y o )

I get the "architect discount" from my clients. 

Apr 16, 19 8:42 pm

I use my license to get laid all the time.  Works like a charm.

No discounts though... damn.

Apr 17, 19 9:45 pm

Discounts are out there... Wayfair and Kohler are two I've used this year.  They can be substantial.  Example; My tub retail is $5700. $4000 on Wayfair using the discount... and I got it from Kohler for $3400.  The faucet for it retails $1500, discount down to $900.  Vanity was $3800, discounted down to $2300. 

BTW; the Kohler one requires you have a business license in addition to your architectural license... So you may need to talk your boss into it.  An advantage is they can set it up so their clients (and you) can take advantage as well.  Wayfair was easy; just a copy of your architect license.

Those discounts rapidly add up:  $2100 alone on just my tub setup.

Apr 18, 19 10:06 am

First make friends with your spec writer.  They get better discounts from some manufacturers than the general riffraff of architects do.  I realized this when I was going to paint my house:  I was lamenting that the 20% cards that a paint rep had handed out to us all at the last lunch and learn aren't really that great (the paint stores have better sales than that on a regular basis), and it turned out our spec writer got a 50% off card from the same rep.  He gets a lot of other discounts and promotional freebies and stuff won in "random drawings".

And yeah, lots of cheesy chain retailers have trade discounts of at least 20% - usually you just need to scan your license and/or AIA card to get a trade account: Williams & Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Bed Bath & Beyond, Hayneedle, Restoration Hardware/Lighting, Pier 1, Crate & Barrel...  

Any of the furniture companies geared toward corporate/institutional typically offer 40% to 50% personal discounts for architects, and higher-end appliance companies all have good architect discounts, though I'm more the type to be happy with GE or LG level stuff, so no discounts there for me.

Apr 18, 19 10:45 am

Yes, "random" drawings at most trade shows, manufacturer ceu's, and happy hours are rigged. When I was affiliated with either a megafirm or a wannabe starchitect, I would win stuff regularly. Now I own a small firm and never win anything.

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