What Is Your Design Philosophy?

Photo credit: Emily Wilson

The first question is – do you have a design philosophy? And if not, what is driving your business? Your design philosophy is key because it should drive everything you do and every decision you make in your business. It should represent what you stand for and it should be written so that it can be clearly communicated to both your team and your clients. Without a clear design philosophy you are like a ship’s captain without a destination and that will negatively affect your team as well as your ability to attract your ideal clients. In fact without a well-defined design philosophy you are most likely lacking a clear definition of who are your ideal clients.

Ask yourself several questions. Who are your ideal clients? What are your priorities in creating interiors for your clients? How does the process work? What is the culture of your business?

A firm’s design philosophy should define what they wish to accomplish in the designs created by that firm and how they will do that. Maybe you want to be known as a design firm with a team that incorporates collaboration with the client, truly involving them in the design process and creates an interactive experience. Or your firm may focus on collaborating with the client but also on designing timeless spaces made to last and evolve as the clients’ needs change. Then ask yourself how do you accomplish those results?

Charles and Ray Eames were the iconic design team of the 20th century, creating countless pieces of furniture that remained popular years after their design – such as the legendary Eames Lounge Chair created for Herman Miller in 1956. Charles Eames liked to say “take your pleasures seriously” and practiced that in creating furniture that offered pleasure and function – hence the long lasting popularity. This is why the famous Eames chair has remained so popular as it is not only aesthetically pleasing but also pleasing to the body! He stated “The details are not the details. They make the design.” This statement is also good advice in defining your design philosophy.

Pay attention the philosophy behind the designs created by your firm and be sure your team incorporates that philosophy into the everyday business of the firm. Ask yourself as you make decisions in your business – “does it reflect our design philosophy?”

Use it when interviewing prospective new team member and clients. Will they be a good fit with the design philosophy of your firm? It should be an effective filter, and when it is clear to others, should help attract those who could be your ideal team members as well as attracting those who could be your ideal clients.

And as you develop and/or review your design philosophy and define what you stand for you might consider this additional quote of Charles Eames: “The role of the designer is that of a very good, thoughtful host anticipating the needs of his guests.”

Drue Lawlor

Director of Coaching Drue leads our coaching and consulting. As a NCIDQ certified designer she and Gail co-developed the 12-month Strategic Business Transformation Group Coaching. The program leads the way in teaching designers how to build or redesign their businesses for profit and success. Outside of Gail Doby Coaching and Consulting she is the co-founder of Boomers with a Plan B. She is driven to help clients create a safer and healthier homes. You’ll find her in Senior Magazine and a contributor to the following books: Design for Aging: Post Occupancy Evaluations and Interior Graphic Standards, second edition.
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