The Design Process
A starting point in design is almost always the desire to create something new. You may have an idea for a project, you may need some advice, or perhaps you are even inspired to do it all for yourself – it doesn’t matter so long as there is a desire to make something happen. This process is design and the output is the manifestation of our desires – to bring our thoughts and feelings into a material reality we can share & experience.
Louis Khan advised us that “a great building must begin with the immeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed, and in the end must be unmeasureable.”
The starting point must always be to identify our ideals as to what a design might be; this we could call our vision, or in Khan’s words “the immeasurable”. Identifying a vision in architecture often starts with an overriding concept or idea which guides the design and ties everything together. For example a simple concept for an interior could be to use only white coloured material – it would be a stark space but nontheless visually engaging. Whilst this example concept uses colour, other more sophisticated concepts might use form, line, texture, materials, space or a combination of these. For example a nautical concept might use materials and details that would be normally found on a boat – timber deck floor, sailing ropes, water, stainless steel and circular windows. In this way further design decisions of materials, fixtures, lights, fittings, furniture can be made to promote the overall design concept and a coherent feeling of space.
To bring our vision into being requires us to measure and test it against our understanding of reality. This process parallels the scientific method; we create our design hypothesis and test it against the real life constraints:
How much existing space is available?
How will our design work for its intended use?
How will our design meet government legislation?
How about the budget?
Are there any time restrictions?
Do we have the right team to construct it? Or do we need specialists?
Are there other stakeholders with other interests?
and so forth..
Other considerations could be more abstract:
Will it look like a restaurant from the street?
Will people be able to find their own way around the building easily?
Will the design add value to my home?
By taking our vision through a process of iterative testing, the design will adapt to become robust, closer to material realisation. In this way we consider details and craft our design and accentuate the very best that it can possibly become. The process of design will enable us to produce a more considered, sometimes unexpected result – such is the nature of creative endevour. Unlike the scientific method, each design will only occur once and considered holistically each space is unrepeatable. In the end we create something which is beyond our ability to measure – a space with it’s own unique quality, sense of place and spirit.