The 5 stages of Design

The Five Stages of Design {Stage 1}

Client Research and Development

We were inspired to write a series of blog posts on the design project processes, as this is a commonly asked question. Most client inquiries who call J Hill Interior Designs are perplexed by how one even starts an interior design project. The key to carrying a project from beginning to end with max efficiency is like any other; to break it down into organized, thorough steps.Most people see our line of work as solely being creative, fun, exciting and eventful. However, the work of an Interior Designer also calls for extremely detailed budgeting, accounting, project management, scheduling, assertiveness, problem solving, structure and organization.

This leads us to our first stage in the design process: Client Research and Development. The first steps is to learn about our client.  How do you design someone’s intimate living space without knowing their lifestyle needs? We ask open-ended questions about how they live their life, what they enjoy on their down time, how often they entertain, how they cook, if they watch TV, read, etc.  Things like the size of the family is important when procuring furniture. Questions such as number of children, ages of children, pets, overnight guests, etc., are always asked. Often times, larger families spend a lot of time together, so creating space-efficient and family-friendly spaces is ideal. On the contrary, we may identify a single professional client who primarily focuses on their career and entertaining guest, thus designing around those needs.
The next step in understanding our client is to ask design-related questions. Most people don’t know what they want until they visually see it. The same goes for what people do NOT want. J Hill Interior Designs uses a specific, visual design survey to probe the mind of our clients. It is as general as what color tones they like, to as specific as what style of couch leg they like. Everyone always has an opinion once they see it. Conducting detailed surveys such as these mitigates rounds of revisions once we propose a design. Our goal is to predict exactly the design tastes of our clients are before they even know.
The last area we strive to gain understanding is in our clients’ expectations. What is their budgetary expectation? What is their expectation on the caliber of design? What is their expectation on timelines and date of completion? What is their expectation on how communicative we are? How do they communicate? Often, there are so many unspoken expectation, thus, we try to make them spoken to reduce miscommunications and frustrations.
In summary, these three things: Understanding client’s lifestyle needs, design tastes and expectations, are essential to begin a successful project! Hopefully you find this insightful.

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