Over the years, we’ve recognized an obstacle very specific to this type of work. Design is widely regarded as a subjective practice, and so our suggestions can be discounted as unsubstantiated opinion. But, it is also important to acknowledge that our experience and our talent for making design decisions is based in objective factors— courses taken, hours worked, and jobs we have completed to our clients satisfaction. If this were something anyone could do, they would do it and wouldn’t need to hire us. But in the middle of a job, when numerous people are weighing in, clients can lose sight of this.
When we design a space, we design it as a whole, and certain elements only work in conjunction with others. We don’t expect that our clients will love every aspect of our design proposal, but if they pick certain elements and then try to fill in the gaps themselves, the final product may not feel cohesive.
If there is not clear communication between us and our clients, there is an underlying anxiety throughout the building process. Additionally, if key decisions are not clarified early on, and others are made without our input, it can result in a mismatched design, because we’re essentially working with incomplete information. So the problem to be addressed is this: How do we make sure everyone feels their needs are considered, without compromising our creative authority or our design ideals?
We’ve come up with strategies that helps us stay on track, and keeps clients well informed every step of the way.
Small Initial Meetings
To keep things focused, we keep our initial client meetings small, with only the owners present. We know that running a business requires help and collaboration from a team of people. We’ve found, however, that these meetings tend to function most efficiently if we are able to work with a singular representative who can clearly convey what is imagined for the space. We can then work together to develop a cohesive vision to be communicated to other team members.
We spend time getting to know our clients, so that our design reflects their brand identity. We also do whatever we can to best utilize our client’s budget, whether it’s big or small. (link to specific job– NCG).
Clear Design Objectives
Based on client input and our own analysis, we identify the design objectives early on in the process so as not to waste any time or creativity. Our process, however, allows us to adapt to new challenges and changes we encounter.
It can be frustrating to present an idea, feel it was well-received, only to find out later that the client wants something different. We’ve found it’s best to establish clear and honest communication early on, so our clients feel comfortable expressing their needs and opinions to us directly, and vice- versa.
Written and Visual Communication
We tend to think in visual terms, drawing out our ideas in sketches or digital 3D modeling, but we also compile written proposals that clearly express our ideas and objectives to limit misunderstandings.
We’re always looking for ways to improve, but thus far we’ve found that these strategies help foster respect between us and our clients, and keep our process as efficient and pleasant as possible.