How we do, what we do!

May 18, 2011

Often our clients ask us first and foremost (even before fees) “so how does the process work?”

If you are one of our clients or one day will be one of our clients you will receive the long answer to this question. The abbreviated answer is as follows:

The design process is split into four stages:

Stage 1:- Concept Design

Stage2:- Detailed Design Development

Stage 3:- Production and Specification

Stage 4:- Site / Design Management

Before we begin the Concept Design we have to do a small bit of toing and froing with the client. During our first meeting we introduce our services and tell the client what we do and how we can help them. The client will then give us a brief of the project and what the key elements are. This is where we stop the work during this meeting. We want to get to know the client better , this is when we do that. If we don’t understand and get to know the client as a person, how can we ever fully satisfy their needs?

From here we go away for a few days with the CAD Drawings of the project in hand. We look at the project layout and see how we can incorporate each element the client is after. Using this info we put together a few sketches or a mood board of how we see the project looking. We put together our fee proposal and contract. Then we meet the client again and present what we have worked on and issue our fee proposal. If we have completely misinterpreted the brief this would be the end of the process.

Thankfully that has not happened to us yet. The client passes comment which we note. This unfortunately is the end of the “free work” period. If the client is happy with our direction and our fees (usually after a haggle or two) then we get straight onto the concept design. If we can’t agree the fee, which does happen, we wish the client all the luck in the world for the project and we walk away amicably.

This initial process in our experience is the best way of starting a relationship. This way we do not end up doing a great deal of “free work” and nor do we waste the time of client by having “meetings about meetings” as we call it.

However, if we agree to move on then we can begin Stage 1.

Stage 1:-

The concept design is the primary stage of the project. The most important thing before we start sketching is research and team brainstorming. No matter if a member of the team is a designer or a receptionist or the IT person, their input is invaluable as we are all consumers and end users.

It is here we lay the foundations for the future look and feel of the project. After the Q&A we sketch out our layout of the project and get to work creating the mood and feel of the project. Then we are ready to rock the initial design phase.

We put together visuals, sample boards and general layout plans. The client is presented with the concept and will give their feedback. This is the crucial point where we finalise the design.  Needless to say there is a more toing and froing at this point but the client is key and making sure we nail it is crucial.

Upon client approval we issue our initial concept to the mall management for approval, when they approve it we move on to stage 2.

Stage 2:

Detailed design development is where the difficult work begins. The concept is refined with the inclusion of outside consultants, such as MEP, Lighting and Contractors. We start our architectural drawings including lighting layouts, MEP layouts and catalogue details of finishes and specifications to be used by the contactor to make our design come alive. The next phase is creating our fit out budget and timeline. Providing the consultants are reliable they will follow our specifications and finishes and come in on time and on budget otherwise we have to step in to maintain the integrity of the client and our design.  

Stage 3:

At the production and specification stage we take receipt of the detailed design submission from the landlord (Mall Management) and make any necessary amendments based on the comments received. Based on these amendments we compile the final production drawing package which is submitted to the contractor for implementation on site. This includes all detailed joinery drawings and any other miscellaneous details required. At this stage we liaise with Lighting and MEP designers as well as the contractor and client to ensure that everything is in place for construction. Here once more we complete and refine the finished schedule based on cost and availability so as what we design and what the client agreed upon is actually built. Thus protecting ours and the client’s integrity.

Stage 4:

On site design management is an optional service we offer to the client. We make weekly site visits to check to progression of the project with the contractor. We are on hand to chair design meetings and answer any queries by the consultants. We like to see this as a project coordination role whereby we manage the contractor and consultants to make sure they are on time and maintain the integrity of the design. We report directly to the client each week about the development of the project so as the client can begin to put a time frame together to employ staff, order merchandise etc… We do this up until snagging has been completed and then it is open day!