When did we stop collaborating? Or did we ever start?

The art, design, and construction industry encompass a group of experts who have the knowledge and expertise to construct compelling spaces that elevate the user’s experience. But how effective are we without an agile and collaborative approach from the initial design concept? At what point did we establish an individual ‘expert’ rather than an integration of informed opinions? Are we in danger of design becoming a damaged parcel, passed from specialist to specialist, without offering opportunity and innovation that would only benefit the client and user? The question is how, we as designers, artists, and tradespeople harness the integrative process to expand our ideas and practices? 

When we re-design a kitchen for a family, it is crucial to understand how the kitchen space is occupied and the relationship to the house as a whole. We must consider a multitude of factors such as how the space is accessed, is it a thoroughfare leading to a more important area of the house? Is it a space for entertaining, an opportunity to inspire, or does it function as an office by day and a spot to debrief by night? These considerations become a tailored brief suited specifically to the individual client’s needs. The answers become the design foundation, and by valuing this dialogue from the client, as designers are valuing their contribution to the project. This process mediates a clear and effective trajectory for the project by not only ensuring design solutions align with client expectations and requirements but by also considering how the space can add value and elevate the user experience. 

So, why is this method not applied when working with key trades and experts across the design, building, and creative field? A collaboration in the initial design phase when concepts are developed. A conversation that invites the interior designer, architect, builder, joiner, engineer and landscape architect to have an opportunity to understand project requirements, share expert knowledge, and provide stronger solutions. This dialogue, in the early stage of a project, should not be hindering but rather thought-provoking, where challenges become opportunities to adapt new innovative design concepts that teach us to be agile from the beginning.  

Let’s have a conversation that elevates design and the outcome for both client and user. A responsive design that emerges from informed decisions; ideas that expand and consider how light interacts with walls, how interiors and exteriors intermingle through windows, how joinery can reference the landscape and how the journey through a building can relay its history. 

Because, after all, it is only with mutual respect and a willingness to remain transparent throughout the process that we can build the trust required to deliver a truly integrated design.