Every client is different; they can be anyone from anywhere. The client can be a company or an organisation, or an individual. All of them have a common need for design services, but the understanding of these needs would most likely vary.
Clients engage a professional designer when they have given close consideration to their situation. Sometimes, clients who have not thought things thoroughly have a vague idea that hiring an architect/interior designer will provide better solutions to their problems. Every client gives different priorities to the aesthetical and practical aspects of a project. The aesthetical concern might sometimes overshadow the viable solution and vice versa.
Thus, designers need to communicate on many levels with varying kinds of personalities. Some clients are direct and detail specific; others are ambiguous and timid, both need equal consideration as they are the key elements that would affect the project.
Building a relationship with your client to establish a good rapport is essential. If the situation and the user personality call for it, the designer can also choose to connect with the client on an emotional level. The end goal is to interpret the intent the client has for the project.
The designer has to make an honest attempt to understand who the client is and how they live or work. This information provides an insight that helps develop the bigger picture, which might be simple and of less significance as a whole, but it is necessary. For instance, in a residential project, the user persona guides the design development of how space will align to the occupants' daily activities. This quick study of their routine is vital, which the designer can use to decide the spatial arrangement and accommodation for each of these needs. It also gives cues on the style preferences of the client.
Similarly, for a commercial project, It is essential to understand the workflow of the organisation. Ultimately, priority for the work that will occupy the space. If it is a factory, then consideration of workflow holds importance. The designer, after learning about the existing work pattern can suggest some changes to enhance it further. Designers are sought out by commercial clients, as the change bringers, people who can give a new direction to their organisation.
Samiksha and Karan are both style-conscious people who dedicate time to their hobbies. They would be happy to spend money to enhance these activities. Samiksha requires an open space for a free flow of movement. Karan would prefer a comfortable nook in the house for his books which could also accommodate company. They both would want their homes to reflect their personalities.
Varun has a more easy-going personality, who values fitness. He would prefer lots of ambient light and fresh air, especially for his working out space. His dog is of a smaller breed, so he would need design elements to ease his movement through the house. A large kitchen with a good fridge for healthy produce would be an added benefit.
Monica is a busy single mother; her kids' needs are more dominant than her own. The siblings would prefer their rooms. A private study for her work would give her peace of mind and her hobby. And a separate TV cum games room for when the kids want to watch football with their friends. Working as a senior executive comes with responsibilities; she might feel the need for additional help around the house and kids, a room for the domestic helper would help.
The project briefing sets the stage for the project. Some briefing is carefully constructed that includes the details and the scope for the project; others are more casual shared through multiple conversations over a cup of coffee. Usually, A written brief hold more valuable information than a verbal one. Brevity is a good thing; A focused and unambiguous brief makes the designer's job easier to make insightful decisions.
The designer should request a written brief from the client before the meeting. It would force the client to collate his thoughts, and it will also make sure they are serious about engaging a designer for the project. It is a good tactic on behalf of the designer.
During the meeting, both parties could address the uncertainties that arise after analysing the brief. More time spent understanding the brief together will help clear the bigger picture for the stakeholders, along with reaching a mutual agreement. Additionally, it would build a better business relationship.
The designer also has to bear in mind that they might have to deal with amorphous feelings and innate ideas about the client’s endpoint of the project. The brief will not be a conclusive list of needs. Interpretation of these feelings into design element that the task at hand.
The task is to identify the constraints from the brief that the designer has to establish. They sometimes include time and budget available, aesthetic style, the scope of the project. Constraints are not the limiting factors but the defining aspects of design. They help create boundaries for an effective design solution.
Next time, you are going out for a client meeting, consider the above ideas to have a fruitful result. Attention to detail and the underlying problem is appreciable by the client. Understand your client before you make suggestions for the project.