Designing for a Specific Purpose (and budget).

For all you up-and-coming designers, here’s something I’ve learned through experience. Most of the time, and aside from the initial function that an initial design is meant to accomplish, it is really about budget.

I always said, “what looks amazing on paper, might, more than likely, never become a reality”. Basically, if your customer cannot afford it, you’ve achieved nothing but a stellar image on paper (or screen). Don’t get yourself down though; the client might as well print your design and put it in a picture frame to at least justify their expenditure. Most of the time, clients don’t initially know what their budget is for a specific item, it’s up to us as designers to understand what their budget should be. How? Simple, see what competitors in their space are doing. And I don’t mean copying their designs. Don’t copy! I never said copy! I mean, see what their competitors are doing in terms of interior expenditures.

Yes, everyone wants to elevate their look in order to set their brand apart but there are limits to this. Another way of going about it, and tread lightly on this one, would be to ask the client a few important questions about their profit margins. Finally, how much time do they need (or want) to amortize the overall cost of their interior and FFE budget? For example, can a QSR chain afford to spend over $300 for a solid wood chair? Maybe, but it’s highly unlikely.

To summarize, even before pen hits paper, Designers need to have an idea of what the client can afford and they need to bring in manufacturers to the initial ideation sessions to understand manufacturing costs.

If I can give a younger “Enzo the Designer” advice, I would say “design for a specific purpose, design with a purpose, and always ask the right questions”.

– Enzo

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