by Lori Hoffman
Filed Under : Design strategy
Posted on November 1, 2015 at 10:36 am
Why is it important and how does it work? A common misperception regarding designers is that they are only concerned with aesthetics. To some degree, that may be true. Certainly with today’s popular TV shows, that seems to be the case.
However, the reality is that I work closely with my clients to come develop elegant solutions that are practical and solve real-world problems. Perhaps it was my background as a Creative Director where highly original solutions were required and developed within the confines of fiscal accountability where fixed budgets and tight schedules reigned supreme. As a result my problem-solving ability has been finely honed over the years, developed specifically to answer client needs. After all, my primary goal is design things or spaces that my clients want, the need of which is usually based on solving a problem.
The foundation of any good design strategy is the process itself. A non-linear, iterative approach to practical problem solving, it begins with defining the problem and then researching possible solutions, often involving many steps. Typically, client interviews, questionnaires, observation, photography and multiple site visits are integral to the process, along with consulting pertinent published research.
The next step is developing a concept. Also known as ideation, it is followed by prototyping characterized by digital renderings, drawings and/or modeling to test the various ideas. When ready for presentation, the designs and ideas are critiqued by the client. It is an important step aiding in the further refinement of the design and it ensures the client’s needs and goals are being addressed.
As much as everyone wants to cut corners in today’s busy world, prototyping, feedback and adjusting course are critical components to the design process. They are the process through which the designer aligns the client’s desires with what is actually possible given their timeline and budget constraints.
When you hire an designer, you are engaging a professional who thrives on strategizing and solving problems, and who will work with you to maximize your investment and deliver tangible results. Interior designers are trained in design thinking and the design process from the very beginning, starting with their education. Experienced professionals, our expertise ultimately helps clients save time and money.
Generally owners/principals of our own design firms, designers are also experienced in managing teams of creative individuals. We put these skills to work for our clients, by helping them to discover ways to better utilize their environments along with healthier and safer solutions. With commercial projects, designers help clients achieve their business goals through workflow adjacency improvements, better space planning and improved lighting. Additionally, when the business identity is well articulated in the built environment, it becomes further differentiated in the consumer’s mind.
It’s important to remember that design thinking employs not only a designer’s sensibilities but also their methods to create breakthrough solutions. This is not a new trend. For decades designers have applied their know-how to all manner of things including technologies, products and services to meet people’s needs. However, only in recent years, has the business world acknowledged design thinking as a technique for driving creativity and innovation, growing to include areas not traditionally associated with design, such as business strategy.
That being said, I am a big fan of IDEO. In his book Change By Design, Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, shows how the techniques and strategies of design belong at every level of business. In this book, he examines the myth of innovation whereby brilliant ideas leap fully formed from the minds of geniuses. The reality is that most innovations come from a process of rigorous examination through which great ideas are identified, tested and developed before being implemented as new offerings or capabilities.
While certainly not all projects require this depth of study and involvement, I applaud this human-centered approach to problem solving. It’s valuable at all levels, helping not only companies to become more innovative and creative, but when applied to the individual, the defining, developing and implementation of a unique environment designed solely to maximize one’s lifestyle needs is individuation on a uniquely personal level.
For an excerpt on this extraordinary book check out: Change By Design – Businessweek Article