Should I hire a professional furniture designer?
Highly individual, elegant, commissioned designs are very special. Some people think they need to live in a palace to deserve it, or afford it. Which isn’t true. Others aren’t sure if a designer will understand their taste and create something they’ll love.
To help you decide what’s right for you, I’m showing you my design process.
As a freelance designer, I get to work on many varied projects. They are all one-off specimens, none are the same.
Here’s a great furniture piece that I’d like to show you. It’s a bespoke shelving unit for a dining room. Have a look at the before & after pictures and read all about it. From liaising with the clients, specifying materials, to drawing with computer aided software, CAD and 3D modelling.
This was the empty space that was screaming to be made beautiful and useful:
WHAT WAS THE DESIGN BRIEF?
I was asked to come up with a joinery design that was interesting, beautiful, and functional. The clients wanted some kind of storage and display unit that would fit nicely in the dining area, next to the kitchen. The area to be designed was about 3m x 1m. It’s part of a nice open plan living space, looking out onto the garden.
WHEN DID THE PROJECT START?
We began talking about this project in August 2013, straight after they renovated their kitchen. This was a small side project and it got pushed to the side when life got too busy. It wasn’t till nearly 6 months later that we decided it was time to crack on with it. I completed the design in February, 2014.
WHEN WAS THE PROJECT COMPLETED?
The joinery was installed some time ago but it wasn’t until recently that I saw the “after” photo. The clients had been working on some bits and pieces around their home and decided to take some snaps. I was excited to see it because I’d forgotten how cool that little design was. That’s why I’ve decided to look back at the process and write about it.
WHAT WAS YOUR ROLE IN THE PROJECT?
Interior Designer, well, more specifically I was the furniture designer. I was to provide a creative design and specification, based on the client’s needs. I presented 3D drawings to them so they could visualise what it would look like. I also gave them 2D drawings, such as dimensioned floor plan and elevations. This way their cabinetmaker could build it with clear instructions.
WHERE THERE ANY SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS?
The unit had pride of place next to the dining table, so it had to be special. When they had guest’s over it would become a talking point because of it’s design and also because of all the things they wanted to display. Such as items that they picked up during their travels and other things that they loved.
To be practical, it would need to store linen and tableware. There was also some consideration about being able to move it, if needed. In other words, it couldn’t be completely built in. That way they have the option to keep it if they decided to move house in the future. It’s very smart.
HOW DID YOU ARRANGE THE DESIGN IN ORDER TO FIT THE BRIEF?
First of all, we decided on the colour and finish of the joinery. That was easy because it tied in directly to features in their kitchen (Laminex Impressions Espresso Ligna, Nuance finish).
Then I created two different designs for them to choose from. One more simple option, considering it would be easier to build and transport; and one more elaborate, considering it would be more exciting. They went for the latter, and I was so pleased.
Next, I did a little tweaking and voila, it was done.
DID YOU APPLY ANY CREATIVITY TO THE OVERALL DESIGN, WHAT WAS IT?
Yes, I came up with the form and shape of the unit. The clients were very surprised by it and said it wasn’t at all what they expected ...in a good way. They wanted something unique, that’s why they hired a designer. To procure bespoke furniture that they never would have thought of themselves.
The way that I did it was I asked how many open shelves they would like versus closed door cupboard space. They said, about half and half. Based on the number of things they would like to store away versus what is to be displayed.
So, using all the information I had gathered, I went about creating the shapes in an interesting way, keeping to a modern aesthetic. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.
WHO ELSE CAN BENEFIT FROM A DESIGN LIKE THIS?
This could work in many homes, and not just in dining rooms either. I’m thinking large entry ways, home offices, kids rooms, and all kinds of living rooms. The colour and door style can be swapped out to fit better with a certain theme. It could also be turned into an entertainment unit by making enough space for a TV.
hOW MUCH WAS THE OVERALL PROJECT?
This is custom joinery, so I can’t really put a price to it. I charged for my time, of course, and the clients had their own cabinetmaker who they paid directly.
WHERE DO PEOPLE START IF THEY WANT A CUSTOM DESIGN?
Start contacting cabinetmakers in your local area. Finding a good one is really important. The next thing is to have a really good design plan. Not all cabinetmakers have skill in design, even though they are excellent at their craft. It’s also likely that they can do it but they don’t have the time to do it. This is where I come in. I can really offer some value because of all my experience working with both cabinetmakers and homeowners.
Should you want to hire a professional furniture designer or have any questions, flick me an email :) (or click below)