by Jeffrey Baker, AIA, ASID

My addiction to creating design solutions begins when a client or prospective client first articulates their needs and desires for a project. My heart races as the possibilities churn like a slot machine reel in my head. As more and more detail is provided, I begin to internally visualize the organization of functions for the spaces and understand what the form looks like in three-dimensions (3D). When I can successfully see the vision and convey it back to the client is the point when we fall in love with the project… now I’m hooked and so are they.

Importance of listening and gathering data:

Our process is all about listening to the client. We want to hear every detail a client is after and ask guiding questions to help them articulate what is most important to them and how they see the spaces serving them. Most important is understanding the functions and the mood of the space, we then take it from there to create the room types and relationships, and can be creative about the attributes that will form the aesthetic.

Great questions to ask are:

  • What are the functions that will happen in the space?
  • What feelings do you want the space to induce?
  • Is there a particular place that is inspirational for the project?
  • What are particular elements you dislike about similar aesthetics that are an inspiration?

How many people will the spaces serve?

Creativity and innovation come to life as we recap what they’ve just said:
The dialog is a stimulant and informs my initial visualizations, which I begin to describe back to the client in verbal and in hand-illustrated forms. This process becomes the common bond for everyone in the room; everybody in the room is excited. This bond is definitely why I am addicted to my job.

The power of a recap:

Afterwards, our team writes up a detailed project description. The most common feedback we receive from our clients is that we listened and captured the detailed narrative of the project’s scope. We’ve learned that by really taking the time to listen to our clients, we gain their trust. This trust further strengthens the bond, and we become even more committed to creating great architecture and design solutions.

Illustrations, another supporting visual dialog:

The next step is grounded in the art of illustration as we collectively explore the project through diagram and space planning paired with three-dimensional perspectives. After careful analysis of spaces and the variables: client needs, function, design, budget, and materials, we ultimately can draw and diagram drafts in 3D illustrating how the spaces feel, function, and look.

This process is fun and lets our clients become engaged, impassioned and informed about the project they’ve entrusted with our team.