The Designer Client Relationship: Learning to Identify, Assess, and Articulate Client Needs
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Scholars in architecture and interior design have identified a need to develop communication and interpersonal skills in design programs so students will be better equipped to communicate with clients. How effective is the transition from designing hypothetical projects in school to designing to cater to the demands, preferences, and needs of clients in the field? This question forms the basis for the design of a project undertaken in my introductory interior design studio. The intention is to introduce students to the world of design while understanding that essential steps in the process include establishing a relationship with the client, asking the right questions, identifying their needs and preferences, and translating this understanding into effective design decisions. The paper will discuss the structure of this design project. The basic premise of the project involves each student in the studio serving as a designer for another student who acts as the client. Students seek clients by presenting their strengths, and interview the clients to identify their needs and preferences. Students design a residential space for their respective clients, and meet with their clients intermittently after which they write client meeting summaries. After final presentations of their projects, which the client critiques with the instructor and guest critics, each client writes an evaluation for their designer. Each of these stages will be discussed in detail along with the learning outcomes associated with each stage in the process.