After spending the past 2 months interning at Kia Designs, I have had a fairly broad experience of the work that she does. Although all the stages that I have witnessed & participated in are not from just the one project, I have seen the different stages distributed over a number of very varied projects.
It is safe to say that an interior designer’s job is A LOT more difficult that it is stereotypically perceived to be. There are so many behind the scenes processes that the client does not see, which are vital for the successful completion of a project. It is by no means a smooth ride either, as you rely on so many different people/companies to provide the service that is expected.
Although I have not attended an initial client meeting, from what I understand it is a time for the client to get to know their designer, so that they can effectively design to the clients needs, style & personality. Inspiration is discussed and an initial brief developed.
The second meeting is where the design requirements & inspiration is discussed in more depth, and the contract is signed. From this, the designer can put together a detailed design brief and work on proposals once floor plans have been drawn up. What happens now and the time that is takes to complete this stage depends very much about the design & the scale of it. The designer creates a number of different layouts, developing their preferred one in more detail. All of these are shown to the client so they can give their opinion on what would work best for them. The developed design would include materials, colours, furniture and furnishings. This all presented to the client at a design development meeting, where feedback can be given on the design.
Once feedback has been given, the designer sends through the invoice & presentation so that clients can match up the design with the costing and ponder over the decision. If there were adjustments to be made to the design, the designer would address this then send through amended presentation/invoice.
If samples were not shown at the design development meeting, they would be sent through to the clients so their design can start becoming reality. By getting a hands on experience, it is often easier to visualise and understand the design. Once clients are sure, they pay the invoice for the items that they want to purchase and then the items can be ordered. Nothing is ordered until it is paid for as this way there are no misunderstandings made and it complies with the designer’s contract of being an agent of supply.
In an ideal world, once adjustments had been made & invoices paid, the project would hit design freeze and go out to tender to the selected contractor. However, this rarely happens meaning the design goes out to tender and (minor, hopefully not major) adjustments are made along the way.
The designer will have close contact with the contractor throughout, making sure all is going to plan. The designer will make regular site visits, if appropriate & meetings with the contractor to gain updates and highlight any issues which need solving. Often, the designer will recommend a contractor and specialists which they have worked with before. This ensures that clients will get a good service.
One of the many advantages of hiring an interior designer is the fact that bespoke built in pieces will often be used. The designer will draw up plans & design drawings to tender out to specialist companies of joiners so that clients can have a unique piece that looks better and uses space more efficiently than a standard piece.
A key part of a designer’s job is to schedule works, making sure orders are arriving on site at the appropriate time, so that works can run to schedule. This is very difficult to do if you are not experienced in this.
As final touches are going into a project, for example sofas & lights arriving, small details are handled by the designer such as light bulbs… those little things that really matter.
Once the project is finished and clients move in, designers keep in contact making sure all works and looks as intended, and if not, or additional items are requested, the designer will handle this up until 3 months past completion.
Once the project is fully completed, the designer will arrange a date to photograph the project, if the client agrees to do so. These images will then be added to their portfolio and often uploaded to their website to attract new clients.
I have had the privilege of getting a one on one experience of the life of an interior designer at Kia Designs and this has allowed me to expand my knowledge dramatically. I have seen the acquiring of a project, the presentation of design and the development, the tender procedure, practical works and completed design being photographed.
This experience has confirmed one thing for sure… that I have chosen the right career path and will continue into an industry where I will love what I go to work to do every day.