Communication in Design

Communication in Design

Those of you who have participated in the interior decorating ecourse by, will know me well and that I always preach about getting the design brief right before you start a design project.

I am so sanctimonious about it and yet in the past two weeks, I have let my standards slip (due to exhaustion post earthquake and three busy children), and I have jumped in and completed three projects after never meeting the client, not having a full brief and rushing through the job, just to get it out of the way. I am appalled at my attitude and the results were to be expected.

The first project I had a one line sentence as a brief, “please do a color scheme for this office, the chairs are red and the task chairs are black.” Great simple enough, color scheme done, clients love it, only to find out that the head office already had a standard color scheme that was to be used in all it’s offices. Poor communication, redo the scheme to their colors. Failure number one.

Secondly a very similar scenario to the above, the outcome is now design by committee, everyone is having their five cents worth as no design brief was set. Failure number two.

Finally, painting had begun on a client’s building, they had chosen the colors, once on the building, not sure if they were right, I was called in to do a considered color scheme, still no brief, just “make it look good.” I just went with my gut instinct and we will see what happens there.

Why am I telling you of my three failures? So that you are tough with your clients and yourself. You cannot expect to get good results unless you know what the parameters are that you are working to, otherwise you are just guessing and that is like playing the lottery and how often do you win that?

So please, unless you are happy with what you have to work with, keep asking questions to ensure you get a full design brief, no matter what size the project is. Often people aren’t clear of what they really want to do, and are disappointed at the end because you haven’t created what they had in their minds, you aren’t a mind reader, we don’t get taught that at design school. Just get to know your client and learn the art of communication, get chatty, draw out of them what they really want to see. Often people have visions of what their home will look like in a certain style that they have seen in a magazine, but you will be able to look at that style and see that it won’t work in the space that they have, when this happens, it is imperative that you communicate that to them, because if you try and make it happen when you already know it will not work, you have not communicated and not only let your client down but yourself as a professional.

I have failed myself as a professional due to taking shortcuts, if you don’t have the time and enthusiasm to put into a job then you are best to let your client know that you can’t provide one hundred percent to the project and see if they will hold until you get yourself back together. Don’t ever underestimate the amount of time, energy and concentration that goes into working with clients and creating interiors for them. It is a very mentally exhausting task. Taking shortcuts is not the way to do it, it will kill your hard earned reputation if you do a bad job. (I hope none of my clients read this blog!) In my defense, I haven’t done a bad job, I just haven’t kept up to the very high expectations I set myself and therefore it feels like I have failed. I have had no complaints but I won’t be taking on another project until I feel I have the time energy and enthusiasm to communicate with my client and most of all enjoy doing the work.

If you want to brush up on learning about taking the client brief you can visit my squidoo page on the topic, or visit the free downloads page to get some forms for helping you take the brief.

I hope you get out there and give everything you have to your projects while I get some rest.

3 thoughts on “Communication in Design”

  1. thanks for the reminder. I have a difficult time getting the brief down. Hard for me to ask the questions and get direct answers. Some are so vague about what they want. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  2. Hey lee, very insightful. I have done like 3 different jobs but did not get the kind of satisfactioin I expected even though the clients were happy. Now i see what was missing, The Client Brief. Thanks for sharing this

  3. thanks for sharing. used to face this all the time while working in an advertising agency. I can
    completely relate to what you are saying.

    Some times a lil conflict at the briefing stage is better than endless conflict at the end of the project
    cheers. natasha

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