A design student, a new studio or a 70 year old firm can swear by a design checklist. No matter how little or how many projects one might have handled, it is important to scrutinize all of them before hitting that send button. The quality check process in a studio begins the moment the pencil hits the paper till the time the soft furnishings are installed on site. The recipe for success for a designer lies in their attention to detail, questioning and double checking the design. So here is a 10 point checklist to verify if you’ve hit the mark!
The first rule of design should be good interaction with it’s users. Be it architecture, interior design, product, UI or website design, clothes, construction, landscape or furniture; design should be stakeholder oriented. It is a direct response to people’s needs. The constant improvement and innovation in the field is to make our life easier. Hence, the customer whether an individual, a group or the entire population (if its a public space/building) need to be considered. It is essential for designers to acquaint themselves with behavioral and daily human patterns to forever cater to the stakeholder. Hence, always ask yourself the question – how does this design benefit or improve the user’s life? Does it serve the customer in his daily cycle? Will this influence his habits for the better? Is this suitable to their personality? Does the design align with people’s values and norms? Will this make the stakeholder happy?
Functionality and ease of use
As mentioned before, a design should cater to the stakeholder. Functionality is a key factor for a project to be successful and find wider acceptance. Following the standards for heights, widths and proportions is a good practice. If one goes away from it, test cases should be done to ensure success. In today’s world where multi-purpose is a sought after character in products, a design should also have multi-purpose and hence long time use. Application ease is also a crucial attribute in a project. A furniture piece can have multiple uses but how easy to apply are those uses? Something imagined in a design studio should also have long term practical uses. Always ask yourself, what is this the purpose of …? Will this go obsolete soon? Am I doing this for a reason or is this trend influenced? Is the design inclusive?
Everything considered, a design should look and feel good. It’s purpose is to make everyone feel better. Of course looks are subjective. Obviously, not everyone can agree on one definition of aesthetic. However, the important questions to ask before building something are … Does this look good? Will it appeal to a large number of people? Does it clash or compliment the surrounding? Is the design contextual? How can I make this look better?
Being sustainable and environment friendly needs to be a norm and not a conscious decision. It should be a habit. Incorporate that in every aspect. Our planet has needed it long before as it does now and forever will. What one should check before giving a design the green signal… How green is this design? What is the construction and future carbon footprint? How can we reduce that? Does this have a long shelf life? Is it beneficial to the planet? What is the scope of re-use? Can this be recycled? Are the materials locally sourced? Is this design vernacular enough?
Scope of growth
A space is a continuous experience. It is an expression of someone’s life. The design process doesn’t stop with the last drawing. The mark of a good design is it’s ability to grow with the user. Not every element of a family’s being can be included in the 3d render. Hence, the space should have the ability to evolve and improve with the stakeholders. As space design is a long term investment, therefore it needs to cater to different ages and changing personalities. Make sure – there is a good proportion of built and voids, fills and blanks, thorough and empty. Can the space be personalized? Will it embrace change? Will it work well over the years? What is its maximum potential and have I left enough scope for the user to take it there?
Once you’ve asked yourself the questions above, purge the unnecessary. Personal opinion – minimalism > opulence. Minimalism is also more sustainable, looks better, has a scope for growth, is more easy to use and maintain and did I mention, looks better!
There should be a healthy balance of experimentation and practicality. New ideas are the reason designers exist and do what they do. Their job profile demands innovation. Yet, it is stupid to suggest a $5000 solution to force the realization of an idea when the total budget stands at $20,000. In this way, you are not thinking of the stakeholder and the sustainability factor enough. Experimentation should be responsibly done, so choose your battles wisely.
Remember that a designer drafts the plan, but it is to be understood by clients, workforce, authorities, sometimes neighbors and local bodies. Make sure to look at your drawings from the eyes of a layman. Are you able to clearly understand everything? Are the line weights appropriate? Are the fonts and dimensions comprehensible? Does one drawing have too much information? Does it not have enough information? Are the icons / symbols universally applicable? Is it too stylish to be understood? (that happens a lot, trust me.) Does every line and dot have a meaning?
Formatting plays an important role in making the drawing readable. It also helps in establishing a standard and thus a trusted brand. Formats can differ with design stages or project typologies. They can also be specially created for special endeavors like competitions, yet the basics remain the same. It goes without saying that one should date every drawing, number it, mention the purpose of the drawing, the client, the designer and other collaborators. It is good practice to mention the number of changes or stages of the drawing for more clarity. Obviously, do not forget the North symbol!
That something extra!
Are you happy with the design? How many compromises have you made? Will this design have a positive impact on the stakeholder, community and your own brand? Does it stand apart? If yes, is it in a good way? Are you solving problems or setting the stage for new ones? Does this contribute positively to society? Am I bringing something new to the table? How does this improve me as a designer?
Summing up all the questions that enter a designer’s mind is not an easy task. But hopefully this checklist is a great start and will make your life easier.
P.S. In the last 4 years, I have tried to bring out various topics from the design world and shared my two cents on them. It has been a fun ride and taught me that a designer is constantly changing – both themselves and the world. Sometimes, I concretely stand by what I preached in my previous articles, sometimes I find that I no longer subscribe to those notions. I hope I have influenced my readers in the same way and encouraged them to also change and grow with me. And with this growth, comes the promise of new beginnings. It feels wrong to not inform whoever’s reading this, that this is my last contribution to the Cindrebay blog. Here’s thanking all the readers and wishing the Cindrebay family and patronage the best for the future.
Ar. Jamila Sidhpurwala