Thursday, 11 February 2010


We have now been given the next part of our brief for our sustainability project where we have to renovate a run down house for a client called Emma Fraser.

Emma is a book restorer who is looking for the house not only be her home but a place she can also work from with a studio space and reception area where she can deal with clients. It is really important that we understand all Emma’s needs as this is a place that she would theoretically spend a lot of time.

Meetings with the client in person allowed us to get to know her a bit better and understand what sort of job she does and the things that she requires. Asking questions from what materials she liked to what does she likes to do in her past time, we were able to gather a rough idea of what she would and wouldn’t want from the house and getting a general feel for her needs. This was useful but when Emma talked about all the equipment that she used for restoring the books it was hard to imagine what these looked like and how big they were…next came the visit to the lab she works in. It was really good to actually see the equipment rather than just visualising it and estimating roughly how much space it would take up within the studio. Taking photo’s and asking yet more questions we were able to step into Emma’s life and get yet another insight to the way she worked. The part I found particularly beneficial to look at was the desk where she worked at. Here I was able to see how she liked to organise things and set things out when she was working, something that I just wouldn’t have got from a question and answer session.

This is really relevant just now with the assignments that we are doing in the Design Studies part of the course – getting to understand the people we are designing for. It’s been helpful for me for the two to be running along side each other and some of the skills that I have already learnt doing the previous assignments have proved useful when conducting this new brief. I have been able to apply new skills that I have learned practically in this project so far to the Design Studies assignments and gained a greater understanding of how much you need to get in the mind of the client. Book restoration is nothing that I know about but after quizzing and looking at how the client works, I feel I know enough now that I can begin to design a space most suited to her.
Take this afternoon for example, while travelling back on the bus home after getting a tour of the lab I tried to place myself in Emma’s shoes. The studio will be the main part of this project as this is the place that she would spend the most time during the day (Emma stated that most likely it would be 9am-5pm) so it will be important to consider certain issues of comfort: height of the desk, width of the working desk, the light that would enter the studio (this is very important to take into consideration for restorer’s as the light can interfere with the books), where the machinery would be placed within the room, etc. With so many things to think about, the way in which I was visualising things allowed me to start thinking about possible design solutions.

Meeting with the client is such a useful process for me (even if the project will not really go ahead) because I am getting used to working with a real life client and designing for them. The process behind this project is a good way to learn more about working alongside the client and listening to exactly what they need and want.

After completing the first part of the brief, (refer to earlier blog - A picture can tell a thousand words (series9)) I didn't understand how beneficial this part of the project was until after this week. This week we focused on trying to get into the mind of client, before we were actually working like the client would be (okay so maybe not exactly!). I found myself sprawled out over my bedroom floor - constantly trying to find more room to do my work - a problem that might be similar to Emma. It wasn't until now that I realised how helpful it was to actually practically get involved in the thought process that we need to undertake.

With thanks:

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