The design process is definitely that. A process. While to many, it may seem like I'm chatting it up, then running off and blasting ideas onto paper, there is so much more to developing a design. A design is more than good ideas put on paper. It's an articulated plan that begins with the design program.
The design program begins with the first phone call, the intake questionnaire, and beginning conversations. I am observing personality, learning who the client is, what is loved and hated. I'm learning about your nuances that will help me consider needs. When I know my clients, I know what little maintenance issues will irk them vs. where they may be more laid back.
The Five-Step Process
Programming takes form as a five-step process. We have already discussed step one and two-
Establishing Goals. This is developed through our initial discussions. How do you want to feel in your space? What frustrations will this design alleviate you of? What are the functions the space will serve?
Collecting and analyzing facts. This is where we measure, do some preliminary code and requirement research, develop square footage requirements (where applicable) and look at the project from the logic and factual standpoint.
Our next step is to uncover and test concepts. This usually happens in the form of a programming statement that is used within our office as the response to the current problem holistically, and a method of how to reach the goal. An example program statement is: The homeowners like to share the kitchen space, so the design should provide comfortable zoning allowing both users to inhabit the space simultaneously.
Once the statement is established, we determine user needs (not wants). This step helps us prioritize and understand what may be cut if budgeting needs require us to cut back. We tend to aim high and remove as-needed, to ensure the homeowner gets the most for their money!
Lastly, we state the problem which sounds so easy, doesn't it? However, problem statements utilize 24 programming concepts which we review in order to develop at least 4 problem statements for each project.
Of course, it can't be simple enough to end there. Once we have all the above, we look at the human element (ergonomics, anthropometrics, comfort) and utilize questionnaires to culminate any additional information that may have been missed with our observations during the measure meeting. Additional meetings may be required to interview the client and observe how the spaces are currently used (as much as possible).
This phase tends to be the shortest phase in design but can also be the most important. It creates a solid foundation for the design and provides us with the understanding of who we are working with, how they live/work, and what we need to remember as we move through the process.