The Design Process

Design is almost always initiated by a problem of some sort; the car designer needs to fit all the functional components into an attractive and aerodynamic shell that defines its brand and appeals to current buyers, or the architect needs to balance spatial, engineering and cultural concerns into a useful and original building that also fits within the client’s budget. As a furniture designer, my process always begins with the client explaining the problem, and it’s my job to find a functional and attractive solution to it.

It’s important to get to know the customer by observing their current furnishings and asking lots of questions. How do they conduct their home life? What kind of art do they display on their walls? What styles catch their eye when flipping through home magazines? Only when all the facts are gathered and measurements taken can the process move forward.

Sometimes the solutions come to mind immediately, while other times it is necessary to “try out” several different ideas in my head, then weed them out until the best one is left standing. In the process of solving the various problems, a “look” emerges that is then enhanced to suit the client’s style. Hardware choices are researched and construction methods are devised to make the design work. Once I have actually envisioned building, installing, and using it in my head, it’s time to put the idea on paper in order to convey it to the customer.

Sometimes I will do a freehand, three-dimensional sketch showing how the furniture piece or wall unit will look in its place. Other times I’ll go right to “blueprint” style drawings so the design can be seen in plan and elevation views exactly to scale. Most of the time it depends on how I feel the client can best envision the finished piece.

A second meeting is arranged to present my design for discussion and feedback, and is usually accompanied by a quotation for its fabrication and installation. My intention is to make my ideas crystal clear so the client knows exactly what they’re getting, thereby avoiding surprises and/or disappointment upon installation. Once tweaked to the customer’s satisfaction, the design process is complete and the practical journey of bringing the project to life begins.