A big design project can be long, emotional, and expensive, and you want someone on your side who will not only create a beautiful new space, but make the process enjoyable and straightforward, too. And guess what? Designers want the same thing! We want our clients to be happy, our team to be successful, and to flex our creative muscles along the way. So what's the secret? How do you know if a designer is the right fit for you and your project? Here are a few questions that can help you find out.
1. What is your design + sourcing process?
We've always been very open about our processes (you can get the scoop in this blog post) and we believe that this transparency is vital so that our clients know how we gather and use inspiration, how we design within our team, how much involvement they will have in the process, and where we are sourcing our products. Every person should be asking their designer where they source product: Are they going to trade shows or shopping retail sources? Do they have relationships with custom vendors? All of these things will have an impact on the end result, and you should know up front.
2. How many jobs do you take on at one time?
We only take on a certain number of jobs at a time to avoid burn out, and make sure our clients are getting the best experience and the best design from us. If a firm is over-extended, it may lengthen your project timeline and you may not get the level of communication you are expecting. There is not one magic number, but it's still a good idea to have this conversation.
3. How many people will I be working with from your team?
It's important for potential clients to know who they will be communicating with directly, what role each team member has on the project, and whether the owner/principle designer will be involved. While you may have initially been attracted to the namesake of the firm, in reality, there is likely a team of capable designers behind all those beautiful images. We are always open about what I personally still do in the design area and what another member of the team will be handling.
4. How do you collaborate on design with your clients?
To have a mutually beneficial relationship, this topic is SO important. We collaborate with our clients early in the process to get a feel for their inspiration and goals for the space, and then we do our thing without asking for further input. If a potential client wants to be more involved in the nitty-gritty of the design process, I know it won't be a good fit for our team and it's best that we part ways early on. As a potential client, you'll want to know how much you can be involved and set your expectations accordingly from the start.
5. How do you work through tough topics like time frame and budget?
Before getting started, you should know how and when your designer bills what steps they take to make sure the budget and timeline is on track. How often will they check in and who will initiate that conversation? Who will handle issues when they arise (and they will!)?
Bonus -- How do you communicate?
This seems basic but it's best to be clear from the very beginning, especially with SO many options these days and so many automated processes. Our clients know our business hours, what form we prefer to use (phone calls, emails, texts, etc), and when we will not respond (hello, nights and weekends!).
As with any business or personal relationship, honesty are transparency are the keys to a good experience. If the team is open about their processes and you can set appropriate expectations, your space will be beautiful in no time!
All photos by Public 313 Design