Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What is a Designer's Process?

Over the past couple of weeks, we've been presenting the benefits of using a designer and how to prepare to work with one. Once you start, what does a designer do? What process does she go through?
1. Initial Consult. Once I've become acquainted with the client, I find it very helpful to visit the client's home to get an idea of their taste and style. This is also a great opportunity to get a feel for the scale of the space being redecorated or remodeled and an opportunity to see how the client lives so that my design can address the functional concerns the client has. At the conclusion of this meeting, I like to sit down with the client (and spouse, if applicable) and get a complete perspective of what they like and don't like, goals for the space, specific functionalities to address, and design preferences. I take pages and pages of notes, which I refer to throughout the process. At this time, I also have the client nail down a budget for me. Check out last week's post to understand why this number is so important at an early stage. A follow up appointment is scheduled.

2. Design. Between the initial consult and the scheduled follow up, I pull together a design for the client. Most of the time, this includes a finish palette (tile, flooring, slab, etc), fixtures (plumbing, lighting, fixed cabinetry, etc), and furnishings (furniture, accessories, artwork, and other items that are not permanent fixture to the home). I lay out the finishes on my design station and invite the client to take a look.

3. Follow Up. At this appointment, the designer "casts the vision" for the space and explains the design elements and functional considerations that will be put into place. The client has the opportunity to make changes--perhaps they see a tile they aren't fond of or want a carpet in a slightly darker color.

4. Design Retainer. Once the client has received an overview of the initial design concept and finish, fixture, and furnishings palette the designer has proposed, the client has the opportunity to accept or reject the design. If they choose to accept the design, they enter into an agreement with the designer for the amount they have budgeted for the space and the designer collects a percentage of this fee. If changes to the design need to be made, they are completed and the client and designer meet again to discuss, as needed.

5. Measure. The designer accompanies the quantifier to the client's home and identifies where and how materials are to be installed so that the quantifier can draw up estimates for the design. At this time, some or all of the finish samples may be brought to the client's home so that they can view them in the space they will be installed in.

6. Design details. The designer selects what are often unseen "details" that are critical to the job. For example, the designer will select plumbing valves to work with the plumbing that was selected. At this time, the designer also creates finalized drawings of custom cabinetry and detailed elevation drawings for the installer. The designer and the quantifier pull together final estimates for materials and labor. These estimates, along with all drawings and tear sheets are provided to the client.

7. Close. The client overviews the final estimates and, finding that the project has been designed within the budget parameters which were originally established, provides payment for materials and installation. At this time, the design will obtain sign offs on all materials from the client.

8. Ordering. The designer provides finalized documentation to the accounting department, who orders all of the materials.

9. Installation. Once all materials are in, the appropriate installers are scheduled to begin work. The designer meets the installer and client on the first day of installation to verify any last minute details. Installation commences. The designer and/or project manager drop in periodically to assure installation quality and execution of the design.

10. Final walk through. Once all work is complete, the designer schedules a time to come and see the finished space and get a tour from the client! If there are any finishes touches, they are addressed at this time.

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