There are four main stages of an interior design project, beginning with the client’s brief, the designer’s proposal and the client’s agreement to this proposal. The second stage involves gathering information on which to base a creative response and includes the presentation of designs to the client. Stage three, which follows when the client has agreed to and signed off the plans and designs, is when drawings are worked up in detail and all the pre-project preparation occurs. During the fourth stage, the works are carried out and completed and there is formal handover to client. These stages, along with the methods of charging or free structure, would all be set our clearly fort the client in the initial proposal, and the client would have the option to proceed with the designer through the entire stages outlined or just one or two of them. A designer would usually charge for the briefing meeting but the client would not be committed to going on to further stages until they had agreed to the proposal put forward.
Stage one: The brief and design analysis
The first meetings with the client are not only to establish the nature of the brief but also to allow the designer to ‘educate the client’ so that they fully understand how the whole process works. Following increased interest in interior design in recent years, most clients tend to be well-informed about the subject and want to be much more involved in the process and so it is helpful to establish early on exactly how the designer-client partnership will work.
The proposal should set out the various stages of the project, what the client can expect to receive in the way of drawing and illustrations, and a breakdown of project fees for services at each stage. In addition, it should contain detailed terms of business and conditions of engagement. A proposal should offer the client some flexibility and, in so far as is possible, be tailored to suit the client’s requirements and schedule. There are situations when a designer should be prepared to negotiate and be sensitive to any possible constraints which could be related to timing, budget or legal or technical difficulties. In these situations, the designer could suggest alternative methods of approach such as phasing the work or looking at different fee structures to suit the project.
Stage two: Surveying and measuring
Once the client has agreed to the proposal the designer can start the next stage of assembling information as basis for the creative process, which begins with surveying and measuring on-site. A survey should always be as comprehensive as possible. A few extra hours spent on this at the beginning of a project will save days spent on-site checking details or taking supplementary information later on in the project. In addition to these practical tasks, time on-site can valuably be spent ‘ experiencing ‘ the atmosphere and volume of space, which should help the designer in the overall creative process. This aspect is easily forgotten when concentrating on survey itself and taking in all the meticulous details that will help define the space when it is drawn