Design with a Purpose

An essential part of a design project is diagnosing the problem, injecting your knowledge, and using that knowledge to create an aesthetically pleasing environment to the client’s standards. No two projects are ever the same and that is the beauty of design! But before any design can ever come to life, it is important to understand that a design plan has to come with a purpose. All designers know that Form Follows Function. Designing isn’t just about bringing beauty to the surface, but it’s also about comprehending what lies beneath. For example, before any walls can be added, a foundation needs to be put into place. Before any paint and stains can be added, a material needs to be put into place. Before any furniture can be added, a plan needs to be put into place. This is the crucial part of design, creating a functioning plan for people before ever deciding on form. As a designer who works with a majority of E-Design clients, I have found that these 3 questions are at the top of my list when trying to understand a client’s needs:

1. What is the function of the space?

The function of the design in this space was executed flawlessly by Sita Montgomery. Click on the image to view more of her stunning work!
Knowing the function of the space can determine how the space will be used and how often it is used. For instance, is this space a bathroom? How will the bathroom be used? How often will it be used? Some bathrooms, such as powder rooms don’t need a shower or tub, and a master bath would. Knowing these factors will give a better understanding as to what the purpose of the space is being used for and how to plan for it. Once a plan is put into play, and agreed upon among the designer and the client, material selection is the next step. Selecting a material can play both roles in form and function. You can choose a material based on the beauty, but is the material realistic with your household? What do I mean by this? If you are someone who lives in a house full of boys who all share a bathroom, you are not going to want to choose a white tile and grout, or even a natural stone tile to be the floor tile in that bathroom. Chances are, the form of the tile will be destroyed and the tile will need to be changed sooner rather than later. How often you like to clean can also determine what kind of materials are a best fit for the purpose. If you are someone who cleans often, then white floor tiles and grout are okay to use. But if you’re someone who doesn’t care to clean as often, then having white floor tiles and grout won’t work out as well for you. Over time, your grout color will deteriorate along with the tile depending on the type of selection.

2. Who will be using this space? And are there any special needs that need to be considered within the use of this space?

Image by Amber Fillerup AKA Barefoot Blonde. Click on the image to view more of Amber’s beautiful posts!
Going back to my last paragraph, who will be using the space? Is it a bathroom for boys? Will there be children often within the space? Is there anyone with special needs?  All of these aspects influence how the space will be used and how to plan for the space. If you refer back to my last post on Adding Hidden Storage, that design was completed for a household with children. The client needed a living space that would be used as a formal and informal living room for her child and sometimes guests and we found a way to take the design both ways. We made the form follow the function of the space.

3. Everyone’s favorite part of design, what style would you like to achieve?

Photo credit: Amy Bartlam and Design Credit: Squarefoot. Click on the photo to view more of Squarefoot Design’s work!
What was your style before and what is making you want to change it? This is where form comes into play. This is the exciting part of design, deciding between fabrics, making art selections, and so much more! When working with a designer, it is their job to try to understand your needs and put a plan into place for your needs. A designer may have more questions for you than you ever thought you could answer, but the more detailed you are with your answers, the more helpful you are being and the less questions the designer will have to ask. Just like going to the doctor, and coming up with a diagnosis, design works the same way. A designer needs to diagnose the problem and put a plan with a purpose in place to create the right kind of environment for your needs!