Stage 1 Design Brief

Scope of the project

This is about how much you’re taking on, what you want to do to a site and how much you would like your interior designer to be involved. If you are turning an office into a restaurant the scope of works will be larger than if you want to update an existing restaurant interior.

Who are your competitors?

There are two types of competitors. Firstly, the type of business most like yours. Secondly, those that are geographically close to you, and the alternative choice for prospective customers. The first type determines how you see your proposed business, and your position in the market. How will your business sit within the chosen area? Is there a gap in the market as well as a gap geographically?

Overall style / look

Is there anything out there that strikes a chord with what you’re trying to do? Ideally this won’t be a business you want to clone, but a collection of elements that you have gathered over the years. As your interior designer we like to know what has inspired you. Whether it was a tile finish in some Dutch toilets, or a chandelier in a Latvian music hall, these elements make up a stylised picture. This will drive the creative development of your design brief.

Any definite ‘Do nots’

As well as asking what you like, we need to know what you don’t like. Have you ever been in a shop with really bad lighting, or a restaurant where you felt on show? This is where you get to say what you don’t like and why.

So, that’s what we are looking for. Clients who know what they want, with a good understanding of their market and what can be achieved with their level of investment. If you fit the bill and want to talk, get in touch.

Just as the most important part of a building is a sound foundation, so the most important part of an interior design project is the design brief. This sets out the principal elements of your project. It gives the interior designer a deeper insight into what you want to achieve.

We have had design briefs of varying sizes, from one-sentence answers to 25-page documents. From our experience the more thorough the design brief, the more successful the project. This is because clients who put that much effort and research into one aspect of the project will put the same level of energy into every other area.

However, the same doesn’t always apply to funding. Having a large budget is not a short cut. In order to bring something new and exciting to an area you need to be on top of your game.

So, how is the design brief set out? We use the following 7 questions as a scaffold:

Objectives and goals of the new design

This is really the way you would introduce the project. Your ‘elevator pitch’. For example you might say, ‘I would like to open the first restaurant in Brighton selling seagull sandwiches.’ You might also discuss the size of the venue and whether you want to use a wood-fired oven, or turn the birds on a spit. The main point is that you communicate what makes what you are doing unique. Work out your USP, and then tell us what it is.

Budget and schedule

Most interior design practices will have a triage nurse in their marketing department to wheedle out the prospective projects that won’t work for them financially. We have made a point of working with independent restaurateurs and retailers who would not be able to use the services of other larger design practices. But nearly every week we have to turn people away because they want to fit out an interior for an unrealistic amount of money. Geography is key here: the bigger the project the further afield your interior designer can go. If you want to open a chip shop in Edinburgh don’t employ an interior designer from East Sussex.

Target audience

This is quite a simple one to answer. Most clients say that their venture is targeted at 25-55 year-old professionals. We understand this, but do look forward to someone aiming their interior at retired professionals with plenty of money and spare time in which to spend it!