Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We-Design-Day: Design Boards - part one

Throughout my interior design education, I had a love/hate relationship with design presentation boards. They have a purpose, I don’t doubt that but what I do doubt is their efficacy to properly present the design solution. It is easy to get caught up by the glitz and glamour of a well created board but miss the entire point of the exercise which is to present the solution to the problem.

If you’ve ever spent much time watching home renovation TV, it isn’t very often that you see a board – and when you do, it’s usually fairly basic in its design; more often, the presenter has heaps of fabrics layered together and some paint chips. The purpose of the board is to illustrate the drawings (of the space) and a few finishes.

The fact of the matter is, no matter how glitzy, glamorous or even how straight your board is constructed will make up (in the end) for a design solution that doesn’t fit those who hired you to create it. The other thing one must factor in is the cost to create lavish boards and all the hours spent (by the designer or tech) rendering, drawing, editing and gluing the thing together. My time is worth money and I’m not going to put together a board for a client that is anything like the ones I did in college. I spent hours – days even, making them – matching marker colours to the paint selections and then working diligently on recreating the patterns and textures. It was insane and no one is going to pay me to do that! Yes, there are places where that is necessary and if you are building a 5 star resort or an executive office tower that may be done. But for the run of the mill interior renovation, it’s not likely going to happen. Furthermore, with the advent of computer generated graphics, often a “3D fly through” (or walk through) will replace the old fashioned rendered drawing.

So what does happen? My usual presentation includes 11x17 black line drawings, perhaps a wire frame 3D drawing and a board with the specified furnishings and finishes. Simple, easy and still allows the design to shine. I may render the elevations and floor plan but it depends on the job and the time I have. It also depends on the clients need – often people have a difficult time visualizing a space from a floor plan. Often a three dimensional drawing can help bring it together and make the space real for them.

But because I have a full time job and because I have a three year old at home, my own projects don’t always get the special touch they require. I’m also having a difficult time deciding on certain finishes. I know at this point it’s about finding the solution but part of my job is to keep the budget in mind. Thus far, I’ve spent (on paper) nearly $800 on furnishings and flooring… It isn’t the flooring I really want but it’s what I can afford and I’m experiencing the same difficulties when it comes to my lighting and ceiling solutions. Honestly, I want really nice 2x2 ceiling tiles in my sewing area with good lighting. The reality is I can probably only afford to patch the existing ceiling and get new lighting. Our basement doesn’t have much in the way of power and it is obvious we need to spend the money where it counts and right now, that’s upgrading our existing electrical needs.

Design Tips Be sure your design budget includes a contingency fund to cover any unforeseen costs that may arise during construction. A good rule of thumb is 10% of the expected cost. But depending on the scale of the project, consider having a 25% contingency - if you need it, you have it but if you don't it allows you to do some extras at the end of the project or roll it over to the next project!

Today I’ve got the first board part way to completion. Before presenting, I wanted to ensure I had the storage issues put to rest! After many hours of searching, thinking and trying out different ideas, I think I’ve found one that will work for me and hopefully provide enough flexibility that it can grow with me as well.

Reality isn't always fun... What reality issues have you been dealing with on your projects? Thanks for stopping by and we'll see you soon!

Due to technical difficulties, I'm not able to share the scan of the board... Instead, I'll share one of the elevations while I work towards fixing the problem.

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