Design- An Iterative Process

Every project has something called the design process. It includes a range of operations; If undertaken considerably by the architect, it leads to a well-planned design solution for the client need. It does not restrict to architecture and construction; it is true for every field of design.

There are two kinds of approach to design, one of them is waterfall development and, the other is agile development. Design largely seems like a waterfall development where the activities are linearly planned starts from the design brief discussion and end at the built project. However, the reality leans more towards an agile process, where the individual task is interrelated and co-dependent on each other. Changes to one element will affect another component. Agile development requires revisiting and revisions to earlier process as and when it is needed.

The design process is not a standard that fits all projects; the process is such that it adapts to the different tasks unique to any project. The approach should be flexible that suits the individuality of the project.

The job of a designer isn’t limited to design elements. It also includes a great deal of general administration work. The job role varies with the size of the practice. For instance, in a large firm, they will have specifically defined roles. A smaller firm would prefer designers who are comfortable getting involved in all aspects of the process.  


Analysis in a project cycle is in two related but distinct parts. In the initial stages, the designers assess the scale and complexity before in-depth design thinking takes place. This analysis helps roughly estimate the preliminary time and resources the project would require. It provides a foundation upon which the architect bases the tentative fee proposal.

This stage determines the scope of the project, the number of drawing visuals, and the estimated billable time needed to prepared everything. Once there is an agreement between the designer and the client on the proposed design, things move forward to the first percentage stage.

The reconnaissance survey of the brief and the site with a basic understanding of the project is the starting point for the design research. The designers aim to edit, filter and make sense of the information gathered. Some of the learning might present conflict over time, but after sorting out the priorities, reaches a comfortable compromise. No project is without compromise; the designer has to find the negotiation that they willing to accept for their design. 

Once the analysis is reasonably conclusive, the discussion can move ahead towards the style and content of the project by deciding a concept. The conceptual stage of the project will further shape the project. 

Design Development

It is the stage where the magic happens. Design development translates the ideas into a workable, practical and aesthetic design solution. It is about addressing the problem on various scales. Furthermore, adding touches of aesthetics, humanising elements that are appealing and functional. It is an iterative process requiring constant re-working and rethinking if the idea works. 

The design development work also depends on what the client expects at this stage. If they expect a basic idea of the project, then concept sketches, reference imagery, with minimal space planning works. But if the client wants a comprehensive look and feel of the design, more work is required.  

During this stage, Space planning takes a significant priority. The occupant movement flow requires consideration. The design is most likely to stay fluid, changing and evolving as we progress to the final result. The designer needs an exploring and flexible attitude towards finding that one unique breakthrough. 

Any and every idea is worth a try to see if it’s a viable option. The design development stage is where it won’t cost over the top to experiment. Record every idea as it isn’t enough for it to stay the memory. For a fully resolved and well-articulated design, the designer has to attempt everything. 

Make doodles, scribble, think on the paper. Drawing is a crucial tool for realising the project. Sketching and hand drawing play a part in the lives of almost all designers, even those who use computers daily to turn their ideas into the drawings used for construction purposes. Quick sketches and technical drawings are the best ways to conceive the ideas and examine the entire scheme. Think in all direction and dimensions, with plans, sections, elevations, through models. Drawing is an excellent comparative tool for design iterations.

After the client approves the proposed idea, the designer can proceed to make technical detailed working drawings. The working drawings translated the intended idea to the contractor.


The material procurement, design implementation and evaluation follow. The designer might have to revisit the design development stage depending on the changing nature of the project and sometimes the client. 

You may also like