We are all busy people and so often there is just not enough time. Not enough time to fulfill that list which looked so achievable at the beginning of the day. … “so where did that day go!?”
As designers when time is short we can so often run to the safe ground of familiar territory but I challenge you that this well worn path leads only to the Land of Mediocrity (not a real place but worth capital letters).
Now, the danger of mediocre is that part of it is actually acceptable – small parts even good and we’re stacked with many good reasons to justify avoiding risky new pastures that may only lead to project failure.
You were in a hurry
The market demands it, no one will notice
It’s not my job, I was given an unachievable specification
The products were second rate, the client won’t pay for quality
It’s actually pretty good, no one really appreciates all my hard work anyway…
But the other part of mediocre isn’t so good, regardless. The hard won reputation of our work being better than it needs to be, is why most of us keep our jobs. Because you care.
You care enough to build in fail safe systems for when the pressure mounts, to fall back on a method that will deliver your best even when you’re up against it.
So over the coming months I will be equipping you with tried and tested, fast methods of making lighting design decisions.
Fail Safe Tip – Time Saving Checklists
Important prospective client conversations are the gateways to new relationships and projects but without definition they can get out of control. They can become a liability as time will race by without the guarantee of payback. As interested as you are, you need to home into key questions to create a successful succinct dialogue.
So it’s important to follow a loose checklist to ensure your meeting is productive.
Let’s say this is for kitchen lighting – throughout the conversation I am filtering information to answer 3 key questions:
Q: What is their worldview of good design?
This conversation is defining whether you are entering as designer who will be paid for the lighting scheme or simply a selector of product.
Ask what types of lighting do they like, have they considered lighting as a key element before?
Are they interested in pushing the interior solution to include built in lighting?
Do they want to control the lighting to sculpt the atmosphere for different times of day. An enthusiastic reply about getting the mood right is a key reply.
Q: Where do they need us most?
Lighting design can be easy, anyone can choose a downlight and line them up. We are here to find the edge and show that we are worth including.
Are there architectural features we can use or are making the space tricky to light?
Downlight selection – choosing the best product.
Help them understand that good lighting is to not over light a space.
Emphasise the importance of avoiding glare.
Q: How can we create the best value and therefore a happy client?
Their definition of success shows us where the value for them is.
Take the client on a journey to understanding what good lighting is and how a good scheme’s value to them will probably cost more than they initially thought!
A well designed lighting scheme will iron out technical details prior to installation and reduce pitfalls and unnecessary extra expense.
Gathering Key Details
Understanding the project thoroughly is important even before quoting for any design work:
- Schedule of existing circuits & and can that be changed – ie what scope is there?
- Locations of intended or existing switching
- What is the desired control for this room. Eg simply switched / dimmable to some circuits but with what – rotary mains or a digital system. We could inherit the builders/electricians choice that I have to specify compatibility to.
- Are there existing positions to consider or is the whole ceiling being renewed?
- Any architectural features we should know about not obvious from just a plan
- Style of the kitchen
- Ceiling height and ceiling construction (plasterboard / lath and plaster etc?)
- Elevations required / kitchen plans to see whether we can use wall space or uplight from units / build in lighting into the structure
- Any constraints – listed building? Solid floors or timber? Wall construction?
- Any lighting already specified in the cabinetry / kitchen joinery
- Intended multiple uses of the space
- How important are decorative features to the scheme ie must have pendants?
- Fire ratings required?
- Project timetable
Successful Outcome for the Client:
Feels valued, listened to and excited by your ideas.
Successful Outcome for you:
Quickly collate poignant lighting questions that will be useful to them but importantly foster trust in you and enable you to deliver a key design idea that they are excited about.