New techniques that I have learnt over the past year have proven invaluable to my skill set and will prove useful in future projects. Integrating these additional primary and secondary research methods would have helped me undergo the brief in a slightly different way and revisiting the project, I can review the progress I made but also understand how I could have applied these new methods.
Sustainability project: Remodel a house incorporating a living and working space for client, Emma Fraser.
Initially sitting down with the client and discussing the brief would have allowed both of us to raise any concerns. Communicating with each other initially and understanding Emma’s needs would have created a strong relationship that would have proven beneficial for the duration of the project and allowed me to clearly grasp the client’s requirements. Failing to discuss the brief with Emma, I interpreted things differently to how they were implied which had implications on my final solution; I learnt the hard way that asking lots of questions at this stage is crucial!
Researching for the project, I tended to stick to one or two sources affecting how I intended to design the house (Moskow, K. (2008) Sustainable facilities. United States of America:McGraw-Hill companies ltd and Hadid, Z (2006) Zaha Hadid. Germany: Cantz). Obtaining research from different sources would have provided me with large amounts of inspiration and reading relevant accounts of previous renovation projects would have proven useful in understanding common problems. In my opinion there can never be too much research and preparation is the key when trying to consider creative solutions to a brief.
Gathering up-to-date inspiration from magazines and websites such as www.inhabitat.com, www.architectmagazine.com and www.deezen.com would have provided a varied degree of stimulating design and would have aided me in my thought process. Brainstorming with these images and adding text would allow me to annotate and expand on initial thoughts, making use of ‘buzzwords’ to trigger ideas, allowing me to develop and start thinking more creatively. Brainstorming with others would have also been beneficial, allowing us to work collaboratively, exploit skill sets, feed off each other’s ideas and consult with one another over common issues.
A weakness of mine is latching onto ideas that I think will be ‘perfect’ in my design but in the end results in me trying to connect a space that doesn’t want to be connected. Trying to think realistically and consider whether this type of design would fit into the building is just as important as if the client wants it. A solution to this problem would have been to show Emma pictures of different spaces and asked what she liked and disliked in the image.
Using observations as a research method would have let me fully understand my client right from the beginning and would have saved me a lot of time in the designing process. Observing Emma carrying out her everyday work would have allowed me to understand what her needs were. Making use of drawings, photographs and text, I would have been able to note any instant thoughts and visit these at later stages, adding in anything I missed primarily. Annotating pictures and visually analysing the space she currently occupied would convey tastes, preferences and her personality that could be incorporated into the new design. Some design solutions that I did come up with were not what the client wanted and I think if I had paid more attention to the brief in the first place and increased the consultation that took place between us more time would have been saved in the long run. Creating mood boards at various stages and visually proposing design ideas to the client would allow her to interject her thoughts, adding what she liked and disliked. With the client not only feeling involved in the design there would be less chance that I would steer away from what Emma actually needed.
Another form of observing, shadowing the client, would have given me an insight into how she reacted with a space, an understanding of preferences she had, etc. Stepping away from being an Interior designer and creating a new job title, detective, digging deep and uncovering what it is that she really needed I could intelligently design specifically for her. Proposing a creative solution bearing in mind everything I knew about Emma was always my aim but with the use of more observations I feel the design could have been more successful as I would have understood her better. One disadvantage with shadowing is the fact that it can be quite obtrusive and can make people react abnormally which renders the data useless. Photographs, in this case, would probably be more helpful as the space could be captured but it would be important to take these photographs myself as the client may try and tidy up, not giving a true representation.
Understanding the client is critical and interviewing them would allow you to delve deeply. Asking a few questions when I visited the client, I always felt that I was asking questions that did not seem relevant; Do you eat breakfast? Do you like having friends over? Soon realizing though that these sort of questions allowed the client to open up to me, I wish I had created more ‘odd’ questions that I could then collate the results into data that would help me design a space responsive to the client. It would have been pointless though trying to ask Emma direct or closed questions, making it hard to take anything away from these. Relying on these questions to reveal something that you might have missed from other meetings with the client it is important to ask relevant questions; what room do you spend the most time in? Is there anything that you would not want? Also asking more serious questions like whether she intended on having a family would allow me to design a house not just for the present but also for the future. Family, friends and co-workers could also prove invaluable if interviewed as they may have been able to reveal things that the client wasn’t aware of herself, aiding the design. With reference to the Johari window, (Esposito, R Mcadoo, H & Scher, L 1978: 80) the model aims to help us understand how humans interact and would be useful to refer to when talking about Emma’s personality.
When presenting the final concept it is important that the client not only likes it but understands it. Collaborating with Emma and gaining feedback throughout the project would help create a design that ticks all the correct boxes but also one that the client wants. Compiling 12 weeks work in the final presentation requires great skill and should not only display milestones in the design and the problems overcome but the innovative solution. Applying this new skill set would allow me to uncover a whole new chapter as a designer and instead of just limiting my research to one method, utilising as many as possible will be helpful in gaining meaningful research that in turn would render the final outcome.
Esposito, R Mcadoo, H & Scher, L 1978, Journal of humanistic psychology, Sage, New York, vol. 18, pp. 79
Hadid, Z (2006) Zaha Hadid. Germany: Cantz
Moskow, K. (2008) Sustainable facilities. United States of America: McGraw-Hill companies ltd