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Friday, April 15, 2011

The Design Process - What to Expect When You Hire an Interior Designer

Aesthetics and achieving the look you desire within your budget are the ultimate goals of the interior designer. A professional interior designer will serve as your sounding board, guide, and problem solver. He or she can tell you realistically what your options are for:

optimum use of space,
functional use of space to facilitate lifestyle,
materials selected (both to achieve desired look and maintain duravility),
and budgetary allowances.

While each interior designer works differently, each having their personal design style, the final outcomes should still be the same. A designers primary goal is to make each client satisfied by combining their expertise with each client's vision to give the client a completely unique look that best suits their home and lifestyle.

Before you begin to interview different interior designers it is suggested that you have an idea what space you are enhancing and the general look you are after to make sure that you choose a designer that specializes in that area. While some interior designers have signature looks, many are able to create an array of different styles. You should also have a realistic budget and time frame in mind as this will be one of the first things that your interior designer will inquire about. Also be prepared to answer questions regarding the users and functions of the space at hand. This information will help the interior designer get a better feel for the project and allow you and the designer to set specific time and money goals for the project.
Once you have chosen an interior designer that you feel best meets your needs, it is time to familiarize yourself with the design process. All designers basically follow the same guidelines when designing a new space and taking on new clients. Although some of these steps may seem overwhelming at first, they are in place to protect you as a client as well as the designer.

The Letter of Agreement – The Letter of Agreement is drawn up before work even begins, usually after the first or second meeting. It is a legal document drawn up by the designer that outlines the project and includes important facets such as the scope of the project, the timeframe, the financial obligations of client to reimburse the designer, and the designers obligations to the client.
Problem Statement – The problem statement is quick statement that identifies the basic nature of the project. It is used as a classification reference for the designer and will simply include if the project is residential, commercial, primary residence, ect. Most will also include a specific address and who is commissioning the project.
Research and programming – As stated previously each design that is to be successful must solve problems. Although this is a timely process for the designer and client, successful programming will lead to not only to a proper solution but will give a clear understanding of the goal. Research and programming will gather the following types of information:
Users – who will be primary and secondary users of the space?
Lifestyle and Function – how will the space be used?
Relationships – function of the primary space in relationship to the function of the spaces surrounding it.
Space Requirements – dividing and allotting the proper space for each function.
Environmental Factors – climate, weather, view, solar Exposure, noise, privacy, security and safety codes.
Writing the Program – Once a complete program has been conducted all of the information gathered will be written into what is referred to as "The Program". The designer then looks at the program along with a list of the clients lists of want and needs and then can begin to formulating a successful design
Design Development – Based on all of the information gathered this is where the design comes to life. Design development itself has three stages:
Design Concept and Development – This steps includes but is not limited to of the creation schematics, quick drawings, material selections, and renderings.
Working Drawings and Specifications – Although this is used more for commercial products and include s construction drawing/mechanical plans, it can also apply to residential projects as well. When used residentially they will include elevations, display boards, and specifications for all of the furniture and materials selected.
Execution – This is the implementation and execution of the design. It will include ordering of materials which may be time consuming, and upon arrival putting them all into place to create the final look that the client was after. Often client will be asked to leave the home at this point so that the final touches can be put on by the designer to achieve the full effect of the transformation.
Post-occupancy Evaluation – After the design has been completed and the owners have lived in the space for some time, most professional interior designers will want a quick interview with their client to be held in the site designed. This is both an opportunity for the designer to see how well the space functions, as well as for the clients to give feedback in order to achieve complete satisfaction. This is optional based on client preference and there is no charge for this follow-up interview.

As you can see, the design process is quite lengthy and more intricate than most may think. But his is really what you want – someone who is trained to take in to account all of the factors involved in the design process. The larger the project the more important is to have someone who can trouble shoot, ask questions, address issues that you may not have thought of, work with vendors, schedule deliveries and subcontractors, research and offer options, and problem solve for you if and when the need arises. Designers, because of their many years of schooling and experience, will be able to walk you through this multi-stage process in a seamless manner and turn visions into reality while respecting your budget and your time.

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