Post 413 –by Gautam Shah
Interior designers deal with many types of clients, some knowledgeable, curious, domineering, modest and ignorant ones. But, two distinct classes of clients profoundly affect the design process. One, where the clients are corporate or organizational entities, with factual but detached interest in design, and Two, ‘personal-clients’ who are inquisitive, participatory and subjectively involved.
For a designer continuous interaction with a client is important for a satisfying design process, delivery of a final product, and continued relationship. A professional designer needs to be aware of all the above three objectives. A satisfying design process helps in most appropriate product delivery. And an appropriate product backed by persistent concern creates a long-lasting relationship bringing in new projects and clients.
For a design professional stakes are very high in seeing that clients derive satisfaction during both the design and execution phase of the project. In case of Interior design, the design and execution phase converge, so it becomes all the more necessary to keep in touch with the clients.
During the design phase, corporate clients are satisfied by a stated programme and perhaps a discussion on it. The need to keep in touch during the execution phase is often perfunctory. Involvement of a corporate or organized client during the execution period may become necessary, when design-documents are inadequate in detail or when changed circumstances force a rethink.
During the design phase ‘personal or individual clients’ (like a family) if involved and curious would have many dreams about what product they need. These dreams consist of diverse unrelated stacks of images, collected from other impressionistic situations like media, magazines or actual examples. For designer the problem occurs in perceiving a holistic image out of it, or in offering and convincing the client about a novel offering that is far more exciting.
Clients in spite of being extraordinarily inquisitive cannot construct an executable image out of it, or can understand the formal language of drawings or graphical representations. During discussions they grab familiar words or terms and hang on to it. So designers have to be very careful how and what they express. For example, between ‘a red floor’ and ‘bright coloured floor finish’, the commitments are very different. Individual clients are very fast learners, and designers must expect them to be a super designer, by the time execution starts. With the fast learning their capacity to suggest changes enlarges many-fold, but designers should take this enhanced ability as the readiness to dabble in complex issues of design.
Interior designers must ‘engage’ their clients by adequately answering the quarries, offering convincing explanations, and by providing economic and technical comparisons among various options.
Interior Designers need to continue to satisfy their clients even after completion of a project. This helps clients come back to the original designer for the next Interior Design Job. A visit to the designed house, shop or office keeps the relationship with the client alive.
In interior design, the next job usually arrives within Five years, unlike in Architecture, where it may not happen in the current generation, i.e. not before 20/25 years.