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COMMENT AND OPINION | Toby Griffi n


TOBY GRIFFIN OPINION


Creating a design that meets their client’s needs is the challenge facing every kitchen and bathroom studio. Designer Toby Griffi n identifi es the crucial factors that help to ensure the fi nished project strikes the right balance between room size, how much they have to spend and customer aspirations


Zen and the art of room design


We need to balance sales with operations, have a balance of products and services we have to offer, balance our suppliers, balance the books. But there is something else that designers are balancing every day – probably without even knowing they’re doing it.


F Balance/'bal( )ns/noun


1. An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.


2. A situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.


A potential client walks in to the showroom and starts


browsing. After leaving them be for a few minutes, we make our approach – that subtle and brilliant art can perhaps be the subject of another article, another time. What do we need to know? Well, let’s make a list. Tastes and style – tick. It’s pretty obvious that the displays they’re paying attention to are their kind of look. Flashing a few samples/brochures around, and watching their facial expressions and reactions as you do it, helps even more. Budget – tick. Of course, we need to know the budget,


as there’s no point showing them products or producing designs that are beyond their means. Room dimensions – well, no tick at this point. It’s time to get a measure booked, or see some plans. So, with these three key elements, let the balancing act commence. It crossed my mind a few months ago that the art of a


great room design – one that makes the client happy, fi ts their budget, tastes, room dimensions and, crucially, gets the sale – could be represented by a triangle [see diagrams, pictured right]. One of the beauties of being a designer is that no two


projects are the same and, as such, the evaluation of the size and shape of the triangle is unique for each client. But in each instance, the designer has subconsciously drawn a triangle in their mind and then goes about hitting the centre point of this ‘Goldilocks’ zone.


Sweet spot


So how can trying to hit this ‘sweet spot’ be tricky? Firstly, the client’s tastes. We all know that some clients have a very fi xed idea of the ‘look’ they want, and others not so. Have you ever had a client that says, ‘I don’t know what I like, but I know what I don’t like’? The ‘client’s tastes’ point of the triangle moves out when the client is adventurous or open-minded, and in when they want to play it safe and/ or have a very strict look in their minds.


Secondly, budget. Luckily, my clients have never been cagey with me about how much they want to spend, but I know that other designers can encounter this issue and, if that’s the case, they are fl ying blind when drawing up draft plans and specifi cations.


Why then do some designers hit this sweet spot and others not? There are two main factors at play here. Firstly, their ability. Can the designer envisage the space and options easily? Does the designer have the skills and charisma to acquire the information and opinions from


26


CLIENT’S TASTES


DIMENSIONS


CLIENT’S TASTES


BUDGET ROOM


inding balance is not always easy. We want to balance our lives between work, family time and fun. We want to balance our income and outgoings. We want to eat a balanced and healthy diet. In our industry, too, we need to fi nd balance.


BUDGET


DIMENSIONS


the client? Can they use their CAD system well enough to represent their vision, and/or make adjustments quickly during consultations?


Secondly, their company’s situation. Does the company have a broad range of products at a broad range of prices? Do the clients come for inspiration and ideas, or simply to fi nd the cheapest quote? Does the company have the ability to offer building services and so enable the designer to look at the home’s layout with much greater scope and options? It must be frustrating to be a designer at the less expensive end of our industry. Budgets are low, room dimensions are often small, the product range can be very limited, and you’ll be designing safety-fi rst, as you don’t know the abilities of the person who is going to fi t it. Their clients’ triangles will invariably be small.


At the top end of the industry, things couldn’t be more


different. Whopping budgets, adventurous clients, massive product ranges and customisation and, normally, huge rooms. Their clients’ triangles will invariably be big. And therein, strangely, is the point. The designer that hits the sweet spot at the top end is not necessarily better at their job than the designer who hits it at the lower end. So that’s my theory. Budget, room dimensions, and the client’s tastes – it’s a case of striking the balance right.


kbbr kbbreview · June 2019


ROOM


e


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