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What does the Interior Design process look like?

When you start looking for interior designers, how many of you walk in blind to the design process? How often do you feel lost and worried about what is actually happening with your project?

Especially in India, oftentimes the client feels left out of the design process of their own home. The designers feel that they are being micromanaged and the clients believe they know better. Walking a few steps towards each other to create the correct comfort zone for both is a rarity. The designers and the clients need to arrive at a consensus and like any good relationship, the wavelengths should match.

Just like any relationship, finding someone with whom your wavelength matches is a long process of trial and error. But until we reach there, this is the process an interior designer (me) follows to provide the clients with the comfort to design their home with me.

Stage One: Preliminary Information Gathering

Understanding each other

This is the first phone call stage where a client calls the designer to inquire about their services. There are a few basic questions that you can ask your designer to ensure that they’re a good fit for you. At this stage the designer and the client both assess each other, to determine the compatibility and the potential. The information gathered includes family information, living style, design tastes, budget, vision, functionality, among other things. This gives the designer an idea of what the client wants. This is the stage, which consists of a few meetings and a few phone calls, at the end of which the project is officially commenced.

Tools Used: Questionnaires, Conversations, Observation

Resources: None

Stage Two: Research

Exploring the potential

The designer then heads to the drawing board to find exhaustive design ideas for the project. The methodology for every designer is different, and the amount of creative liberties that the client allows the designer to take range from complete to none at all. With these in mind the designer and her team gathers to brainstorm design ideas and innovations that can be used in the project.

Tools Used: Moodboards

Resources: Books, Pinterest, Client Input, Houzz, Instagram, Flickr, Unsplash, Pexels, Google Images, etc.

Stage Three: Concept Planning

Creating a foundation

Concept planning allows the designer to bring themselves and the client on the same page. They pool the client input with their trimmed research to showcase the idea of what the finished project might look like.This helps to eliminate confusion, discrepancy, and difference of opinion and ensure that the wavelength of the designer matches the client. This is the clients first look into their project. This often may or may not contain the floor plan and furniture layout.

Tools Used: Photoshop, Canva, Illustrator, Indesign, Powerpoint etc

Resources: Research

Stage Four: Designing and Materials

The Kick-Off

Here is where the first review happens and the client and designer sit down to start creating, and designing the actual output. The floorplans, furniture layouts, elevation concepts, texture palettes, colour palettes, style, are all discussed. Along with it the material finishes of the home are also selected from woods and veneers to tiles and floorings.

Tools Used: Moodboards, Inspiration Boards, AutoCAD, PowerPoint, Texture palettes, Colour palettes

Resources: Stage One collations, Building drawings procured, Designer’s intellectual property, company catalogues

Stage Five: Visualizations

Seeing into the future

Once the first discussions are cleared and the designer receives approval (this takes two or three rounds of stage four), she proceeds on to creating the 3D visuals based on the finalized design aesthetic and client requirements. These 3D models are a visual simulation of the house, enabling the client to see what the completed home would look like, including the materials and finishes used

Tools Used: Sketchup, AutoCAD, Rhino, Revit, 3D Max

Resources: Designer’s ideas and vision, stage four output, floorplans, inspiration boards

Stage Six: Review

Tailoring the future

At this stage the 3D visuals, called renders, are shared with the client. Sometimes even at this stage, it may often seem to you that we aren't able to understand what you want, or that we aren't open to suggestions from you (the clients). We'd ask you to trust the designer you've hired, and have a little faith in the process. Why, you ask?

Well, it is the designer's job to visualize what you can't. We not only know what you want, but also what you need, that you might not even be aware of.

All too often a client has come back to us after seeing the 3D's saying, 'oh!that's nice, I never thought of that!'

Tools Used: PowerPoint

Resources: Compilation of everything used above

Stage Seven: Detailing

Working out the nitty-gritties

There will be more than one round of back and forth with the 3Ds. The clients might want to make big or small changes in the 3Ds once the external look of the designs is finalized, its time to move to the nuances, such as the internal partitions of wardrobes, the bed storage mechanisms, the small innovations in the kitchen to make life easier. At this stage, the functionality is woven into the design. And at times, the design is changed to accommodate the functionality, taking that part of the project back to stage four. The result is detailed, technical drawings that can be read by the workers and designers.

Tools Used: AutoCAD

Resources: 3D renders and Client's input

Stage Eight: Finishing Touches

The last hurrah

The last details, accessories, fabrics, soft furnishings, art work, etc are all a part of the finishing touches, making the home presentable and move-in ready!

Resources: Online and physical stores

Now that you've read this. How easy is it to find a designer? look for someone who promises at least all of this and more with complete transparency!

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