UNDERSTANDING DESIGN FEES

Post 713 -by Gautam Shah

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Designers often help their clients to acquire or dispose off entities in their completely prepared form. When the transaction originates at producers’ end, it is little above the cost, at a price. Price, reflects the value a producer attaches to an entity. Later transactions may not in any manner relate to an entity’s cost.

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For a thing to have a value, it must be transferable. A latent value becomes potent when it is perceived that someone needs the entity in some time and space, for a utilitarian or hypothetical purpose. A demand for a perishable commodity, if it, does not occur within the life span, is irrelevant. Similarly demand for something in a far off place cannot be satisfied, due to transportation hazards and handling problems. Air has a lot of utility but is not scarce. Rotten eggs may be scarce, but hardly have any utility. Friendship is very useful and scarce, but is not transferable or marketable.

Historic cost of creating a painting may be few drops of colour, a canvas and artists’ few moments. But once the fact is accomplished, the painting gains a very high value due to its extra ordinarily high relevance to the society. Relevance of a product in terms of its utility is (more) likely to degenerate over a period of time, but its value may appreciate or depreciate depending on its relevance to the owner or the society.

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Prices are effected in money. Prices go up or down depending on the fall or rise in the (universal) value of the money. Any change in money (monetary value) affects the prices of all things across the board. Value of a thing, however, is specific. There cannot be a general fall or rise in value of all things. Value of a thing goes up, when we can acquire or aspire for more or superior things in exchange. Value of a thing goes down, when we can acquire or hope for less or inferior things in exchange. Value is relative, referred in terms of something else.

Value of a thing, cannot be always measured in money. Value has many different connotations, typically, it has relevance in terms of, emotions, remembrances, associations, ageing, maturity, heritage, rarity, ecological, environmental, social, etc.

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Valuation, in functional sense, is done to determine what one would gain by acquiring, or forgo by disposing the item, but not necessarily doing so. Value of a product means an addition or deduction to wealth, Cost at the moment of transfer may or may not reflect the value of an item, but it helps in a better judgement of the value.

A rare painting or an antique may have an indeterminable cost, but will have a probable value. Value could be several times more or less than the actual cost of the item. Value is considered to be the true worth of an item, more lasting, but not necessarily reliable. Cost and price are very realistic and reliable, but not always representative of the true worth of the item. Both, perhaps, are required to gain a full insight of the situation.

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Monetary versus Non-Monetary Valuations

Valuations are of two types: Monetary and Non-Monetary. Monetary valuations are not very different from costing exercises. Value of a thing, cannot be always measured in money. Though here utility, desirability, scarcity, availability and marketability etc. of an item are assessed in monetary terms rather than market equivalent costs of such items.

Valuations of non-monetary type are made to check adherence to values, customs, traditions, ethos, rules regulations, laws, etc. Greater adherence to these issues results into higher value realization for the product. Often negative or repulsive aspects of an entity, such as Hitler’s memorabilia, black magic tools, due to their rarity, invite a connoisseur’s favour. Non-monetary valuations have a relevance only to people who are concerned with it in some way. Non-monetary valuations based on one aspect or few concerns are not very useful, desirable, or even reliable. Non-monetary valuations based on too many aspects are not comparable, so must be scaled into some economic or monetary component. These makes, a valuation, very complicated process.

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Costing versus Valuation

Costing is a logical (mathematical) process, and any technically proficient person can carry it out. Costing process must always remain justifiable, and requires many exact inputs, including latest market costs etc. Valuations, however, involve many hypothetical judgments, are very subjective, and so may not seem rational. It is the experience of the valuer that imparts some degree of objectivity and also reliability to the valuation. Valuation on the other hand is a subjective judgment, and no explanations may be asked for.

Costing helps a designer in planning, budgeting and auditing the expenditures. Valuation is used to confirm or justify expenditures, indicate non monetary savings, and to convince a client for quandary options.

 

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Design Practice and Cost Determination Methods

Designers choose entities, increase or decrease their usage by predicting the costs. Designers develop their own cost determination methods, appropriate for the jobs they handle, and for types of items specified in their projects. Input data like market rates for materials, parts, components, labour etc. are continuously updated or sought as and when estimates are to be prepared. Updating feedback is also available through the historic estimates conducted on completion of a project.

In design offices predictive cost analysis is made through Rate analysis. Average prices of all commonly used materials, operations, etc., are collected routinely, reformatted and stored. These are presumed as standard rates, and form the basis for the cost analysis. To simplify the process of cost analysis, number of items and their individual rates or prices are reduced by approximation (through definition of a factor for variation) in quantity and quality.

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Routine jobs and jobs with substantial intellectual effort

Routine jobs have a determinable cost (and by adding a customary margin of profit, etc. one can derive the price). However, jobs with substantial intellectual effort accomplish more than the cost of implementation. So, dilemmas occur, should one charge a professional fee on the total cost of the job, or value accruing out of the job? Authors of creative efforts must know how to value their accomplishments, and thereby demand a fair compensation for it. Designers need to know both the cost and value of their professional services.

Cost versus Value for Designers

The understanding of Cost versus Value of an entity helps a designer at TWO distinct levels:

1 Determination of Fees: Cost-based and Value-based

2 Helping a client for the value-assessment of their possessions.

Screenshot_2020-02-29 Mares and foals with an unfigured background (England,1762) - George Stubbs (1724 - 1806)

Cost-based Fees

Design practice follows age-old traditions of Architectural practice. Jobs are generally executed by appointed contractors or selected vendors. These third party (away from the Architect and the Client) business entities present an invoice, which reflects the nearly true cost of the job. Architects base their fees on this foundation after adding certain percentage amount to account for miscellaneous expenses, (such as on power, water, etc.). Substantial part of Designer’s work follows a similar path.

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Value-based Fees

Value-based Fees are charged for jobs like renovation, extension, addition, conservation, etc. that make substantial change to the existing environment, upgrading the commercial value, or advantages deriving out of it. A unique concept that costs very little to implement, provides a substantial benefit to the client. Should one charge a fee on the cost of a job or on the value of the completed job? Here determining an appropriate cost base for fees is very difficult.

Value Assessment of Possessions

On some sites there are pre-existing structures which are to be only reformed or reused. The design cost of continuing or protecting such structures is difficult to compute, and so must be value-based. Cost of works or supplies by third party vendors and contractors are accountable, but items supplied by the Clients from the existing stock are difficult to document. Cost of Retained Structures, Antiques, Curios, used in a project are often indeterminable, instead their values, if available need to be used. On sites where several Professionals operate simultaneously, exclusive authorship to a creation is disputable, so cost of a patent idea is disputable.

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Cost Plus Fees

Fees for very complex jobs, or jobs that are unique, and without any precedents are very difficult to predefine. A Client wishes to see the job properly done, and the Professional wants a guaranteed, but a fair amount of income. Such jobs are executed on Cost Plus Basis.

The office work of the professional and the site work of the project, both are executed in a very transparent setup. All the expenses at the Processional’s Office (salaries, stationary, conveyance, rents, service charges for equipments, etc.) and at the Project Site (on raw materials (stationary), wages, and salaries, rents for equipments, conveyance, postal and telecommunication charges, taxes, etc.) are well monitored, documented and audited. The Professional is then allowed a percentage over the Audited Costs.

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BRIGHTNESS and COLOUR

Post 712 -by Gautam Shah

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Brightness and Colour have mutual dependence. Greater brightness leads to sharper visual perception and the colour (spectrum) affects the perceived level of brightness. Physiological and environmental conditions alter the perception of brightness as well as colours. Noon time daylight conditions are accepted as the optimal brightness condition for experiencing the colour. But this condition of high brightness can reduce the contrast between two near by objects and so confuse the colour perception.

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Brightness and colour, both are strongly affected by the immediate past experience. Sudden transition from darkness to brightness or one colour to another affects the pupil dilation.

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Brightness and colour relate to reflection from a surface. The quality of a surface, the texture and its grain orientation vis a vis the directions of illumination and observation, affect the perception. Most of the objects reveal their multiple surfaces concurrently but brightness and colour on each of the face seems different. In this scenario the source of illumination (if solar) and observers both vary their position. As a result colour perception is very dynamic phenomenon. In Architecture or Interior design colour matching or determination of brightness is always worrisome affair.

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Next factor is the context in which objects or scenes are observed. The juxtaposition with a lighter background enhances and darker backdrop setting dulls the perception of brightness and colour.

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Colour perception operates at three basic levels, as the capacity of a surface to reflect light, as emission of light from a hot body and the personal capacity to differentiate various colourations. But the conveyance of the ‘colour related experiences’ is even more difficult. The interpretation of colours varies in different setting of locations, cultures and circumstances. Environment and Terrain are two major factors that alter the colour. Environmental conditions like solar brightness, inclination, orientation, cloud-cast conditions, atmospheric refractions, etc. vary depending on the geographic location. These are further attuned by the surface extent, texture, angle and duration of exposure. The terrain offers very pervasive colour context against which everything is observed. The different terrain effects are really not perceived on the site, but experienced through time-space segmented documents like photographs, paintings, videos or movies.

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ART by Edward Hopper Daylight and Artificial light depiction

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The conditions at ground level such as surface colour, wetness, snow, vegetation cover, topography, orientation, man-made and natural features, surroundings, density, reflection (albedo), absorption, altitudes etc. determine the colour quality of light. Since all these surface conditions are very localized, the colour variations are conditioned by them. The buildings in surrounding areas, immediate terrain and water bodies have a bearing on the quality of illumination entering a building.

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Illumination in a space is Natural (daylight, chiefly solar origin), Artificial and often combination of both. Daylight has Four important facets, the illuminance, warmth, colour and the variability. Daylight on an outdoor location is a combination of direct sunlight, diffuse sky radiation, and both of these as reflected from the earth and other objects. The brightness and colour of daylight are governed by the sky conditions, like clouds, fog, smoke, atmospheric pollution, morning and evening twilight zones (when the atmospheric scattering of predawn sunlight takes place).

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The solar radiation as received on the surface of Earth varies from place to place, season to season, day to day and even hour to hour. Equatorial regions receive more radiation, than polar regions. Darker surfaces, like the tropical forests reflect very little radiation, 10 %, compared to snow bound high latitude areas, which nearly reflect 80 % of the energy received. Cloudy and dust polluted areas receive less solar energy. Direct sunlight at noon can have illuminance as high as 120,000 lux (Compared to this moon light is <1 lux). Sunlight is a warm colour light, at noon, the colour-temperatures are about 5500°k, bluish-white or ‘cool colours’ and at sunset, these are about 2700-3000°k (degrees kelvin), are yellowish-white through red or called ‘warm colours’.

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The reflected light from the exterior surfaces of buildings, roads and pavements affect the illumination on lower floors of the buildings. These cause minor variations due to movements of people, vehicles, ripples on water bodies and leaves of trees. Upper floors of tall buildings, except in similar localities, receive fairly consistent, but very strong daylight from nominal windows. Such floors with low or no sill windows (glass curtain walls) get varying levels of illumination, often strongly coloured.

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Reflectance of rooms’ interior surfaces impacts the perception of brightness and colours in a space. The surface reflectance is a function of colour, its texture (matt, dull-sheen, glossy) and the orientation of grains of textures. Extreme levels of brightness, if, are present within the same field of view, can be calibrated by the surface texture and colour. Historic buildings, sites and remains, are conserved with surroundings updated through paved stones of same colour-texture as the original built-form or green lawns. These choices, alter the degree of interior brightness, as well the quality of colour.

Terrain Colours

Similarly cities conserved with enforced thematic colours (blue -Jodhpur, Pink -Jaipur, both in India, white -Santorini, sienna browns -Italian, Piazza del Campo and ), create monotonous colour tonality in interior spaces.

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For artificial illumination sources Brightness and Colour have some sensorial connection. Artificial light sources one commonly accepted rating, the Colour rendering index (CRI). It is supposed to index ‘how the colour will look’. High CRI (nearly equal to daylight in afternoon) will mean colour will look ‘real and right’ and low CRI will mean unreal (weird) and wrong. CRI has limited relevance, if only the illumination source is white (Candles and incandescent bulbs can have high CRI ,but are off-white. The sodium lamps have low CRI but high brightness.

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