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Our Design Process

Many of our clients are keen to understand how we go about design. What is your process? How do I write a brief? How long does it take? What do you actually do and what do I get at the end?

Over the years we have developed a simple and logical way to describe the process. It even has a mnemonic - the 5D’s.

It’s a five stage process, with milestones and sign-off points at every stage. You know what to expect and when you’ll need to give information or feedback. It’s relevant both to small businesses and to larger businesses with multiple stakeholders.

The 5 D’s are:



D3 DESIGN (This splits into three but we’ll get to that)



A design process chart

D1 DISCOVERY is about research and conversations. You are the expert on your business, and we want to find out as much as possible about it.

Talking to the main stakeholders in a project can be a one on one conversation with the founder of a small company or a twelve person boardroom conversation for a larger one. We can engage either with a group or one on one, either on site or online. The main thing is that all stakeholders are heard at the start of the project and contribute to the brief.

We'll absorb all research that you have available and, if we need to, engage one of our research partners.

D2 DIRECTION is a crucial stage in the process. It's where we identify the direction that will drive the design.

To do this we rely on the research from Discovery and our accumulated knowledge and experience. We might look at how things are done in other categories. We might turn things upside down or inside out to find new ways of looking at your business from the customers’ viewpoint. These are big picture ideas and you have a chance to contribute before signing off with feedback to proceed to the Design stages.

D3 DESIGN isn't something we just come up with. It's the logical follow-on to the D1 and D2 stages so it shouldn’t surprise you when you see it – but it will delight you!

There’s a lot of work in this stage so we divide it in three:

1. THE CONCEPT. This is the initial design. We keep this tight enough to show you the big idea and loose enough so you can still give your input and help us mould the design. Once you’ve signed this off we go to:

2. DESIGN DEVELOPMENT. At this stage we start to flesh out the detail. We consider things like finishes, lighting design, communication, operations, and how everything comes together. There's a lot of detail so you'll be able to give us a lot more feedback. All of this gets recorded and incorporated into the final stage of design.

3. FINAL REFINEMENT. The last round of design before your final sign off so we can proceed to documentation.

D4. DOCUMENTATION. In this stage the design has been completed and we need to provide working drawings of everything so it can be priced and built.

Our documentation packages include all layouts, plans, elevations, details, schedules and specifications. They are detailed and comprehensive and an absolute necessity to get accurate prices and to ensure all the great details approved in the design stages are included in the final build

D5. DELIVERY. Our part in the delivery of the project is that of design custodian. Firstly we provide all of the plans and details to your project manager, builder or shop fitter so that they can apply for all required permits and certifications and price the project. We are in touch with them during the pricing process to answer questions and interpret drawings.

During the construction process our role is to keep communicating with the builder to ensure that the finished product looks just like the renderings. If you don’t have a preferred builder we can connect you with one that would be best suited to your particular project

For full project management services we work with project management partners who we can refer you to.

So that’s our process! For more information or to receive a case study of how this works please get in touch - we’re always happy to talk design.


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