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How to choose an interior design studio for your next project?

It is true that availability and an excessive amount of choice can ultimately stand in the way of clear decision-making. With so many design studios, choosing the right interior design studio for your next project can be an overwhelming task. Utilizing our industry insights, we have put together few points that will help you identify the most important traits in the selection process.

Before scouting for the right design studio or accepting a recommendation, take a moment to clearly understand, then set the selection criteria and identify what is important for the success of the project. The metrics can vary from type of studio, type of experience, budget, communication effectiveness, level of involvement, quality of design works. This way you can create the metrics against which you will be evaluating the candidates.



Studio Type


Building standard commercial spaces and creating exclusively unique designs are usually implemented by different types of studios. Hence, it’s important to keep in mind that your project type and timeline will pre-determine the type of studios you can choose from. If you prefer a “one-stop solution” for all the works, a fit-out contracting company, that provides services ranging from design to construction handover, is a better fit for your project. If you are looking for an alternative approach that can add a novelty to the market, provide a competitive edge, as well as provide a higher ROI, collaborating with a specialized design studio for R&D, in order to create a distinctive space with an avant-guard approach, can be a valuable path few choose to take.


Experience Type


Review the work and determine what the design studio is best at designing: i.e. residential, hospitality, commercial, retail or wellness. While star designers and architects are usually commissioned for their specific style, their vision typically comes to life with assisting a team of professionals; which allows them to understand and design radically different projects equally well. However, the majority of designers either have a preference or simply more experience in a certain sector. While a residential interior designer will be more versed in dealing with homeowners’ emotional decision-making process, an experiential interior designer will be better at designing memorable public experiences. Another skill to consider is professionals that are up to date with market novelties. For example, LEED, WELL, Green Globes or BREEAM professionals have a better understanding of integrating sustainability and well-being metrics into any project, well beyond its initial intent. Increasingly more real estate developers globally look into sustainability for minimizing the operational costs, reusing existing construction materials and maximizing the opportunities of marketability, and in this light, integration becomes a valuable asset to consider.



Budget


Another major barrier to getting the best quality and selecting the right interior design service is often the project budget. Decision-makers and investors usually impose tight budgets on services like interior design. This is usually due to misunderstanding and trivialization of the value of intangible services (interior design services) vs tangible assets (such as property, equipment, or fixures). Therefore, it is essential to understand and educate all parties on the value of design, how it can impact the long-term profitability of their property and increase the value of their investment. If revising the budget is not an option, seek alternative ways of cooperation, such as equity at business, or producing the best results with a limited budget. A good designer is, by definition, flexible and innovative and can create effective cooperation terms and help you source creative cost-effective solutions.



Communication Effectiveness


Interpersonal and communication skills during the project can become the difference between a successful collaboration with timely project completion and a time-consuming counterproductive process. Take a moment to evaluate whether the designer’s communication style is a good match for your project needs. During the project, unforeseen situations will arise, and more often than not, can result in significant delays. Dealing with professionals that can find a way to effectively communicate and resolve such situations is the often-neglected area of expertise in the design industry. A simple method to effectively understand this in an early negotiation stage is to steer the conversation into a topic or certain attributes of a service that is usually outside the designer’s comfort zone. It will demonstrate how effectively the team can deal with uncomfortable or unforeseen situations.



Involvement Level


The more personal is the space, the more emotionally involved one is likely to be. Before hiring a designer, it is important to determine the level of involvement, you would like to have in the design decision-making process. It is an often-neglected conversation that creates misaligned expectations even before the project starts and usually affects all the parties involved. This insight will help you determine the extent of the design works preferred and find the right type of design studio for it. Communicating this decision to the design team early on will assist in creating an effective workflow process and aligning it with the project goals and objectives. Start the dialogue.



Quality of Design Works


Personal taste and subjective preferences aside, there are objective metrics to assess the quality of design works. Asking questions in the realms of tangible solutions that should be an integral part of the design will help you determine how much thought (or not) goes into the design process. Start from evaluating their past experiences by asking questions such as, what were the main objectives with X project and how did you achieve it? Even if small, what were the innovative elements that resolved a functional, aesthetic or operational challenge? Then move into the technical aspect such as, are there any operational/functional/technological innovations that can be considered for the project? For example, how can the design decisions help in optimizing the energy consumption in the project? And then adding a brand positioning question, such as, how appropriate is the design for the target audience? Or how well does it represent the project objectives?



This sums up our guidelines for creating your own metrics in evaluating interior design professionals for your next project. In conclusion, we would like to leave you with the least asked and probably the most important question. Whether intentionally, due to educational background in design or exposure to similar media content (thanks to globalization), similar design ideas do appear in different design sectors. Deciding whether to allow the use of widespread design elements can be far-reaching for your next project.

At the end of the day, if you want to provide value with competitive edge and differentiation, it is important to ask, how original is the design?


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STUDIOVN is an experiential interior design studio with an interdisciplinary approach to interior architecture, interior design and experiential design. We believe that curated design experience provides the novelty that will indeed become the real differenti­ator. For collaborations & opportunities get in touch.

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