Communicating design value in commercial interiors

Ten leaders in the field discuss the value of design in commercial interiors at the Commercial Interiors Round Table in Melbourne.

In a rare moment, ten of Melbourne’s big design brains gathered around a table, (and a Café Vue lunch box), to discuss the critical issues facing the commercial interior design profession. The event, held on 16 June 2011 at Woods Bagot, was part of a series of Commercial Interior Round Table, organized by the Design Institute of Australia (DIA). The topic under discussion was “design value in contemporary society,” addressing local, commercially focused design and imagining its possible futures.

The questions were difficult and, at times, invitees were probed and pushed to rethink their own preconceptions and fall back positions. For example: How can designers re-claim leadership roles in a climate where project managers determine design process? How can the industry promote positive messages to the general public and improve the public perception of design/ers? And, the money question: How can design practices resist having to provide more and more for less (and less)?

From these questions, a series of case studies and lines of enquiry were posited and “scribed” in smaller groups. Key outcomes concerned how to address the way design professionals and the general public apply different values to design as well as the possible opportunities for the DIA to promote, legislate and advocate for professional design.

val·ue (noun) _ relative worth, merit, or importance

There is a need to recognize the value of design in Australia. Advocacy and marketing agendas can support and develop the future of Australian design. The media is an obvious avenue for the discussion because it reaches potential clients across all sectors. It was suggested that, alongside the DIA’s current focus on education, (through, for example, student initiatives), professional awards and competitions, the education of the potential design market is equally important. Design language is a contributing factor to the tensions between designer and client. Somehow, the profession needs to migrate into the non-design world and claim some agency. Some invitees suggested the use of advocates to speak about their experiences with the design profession – this might bridge the gap between the design world and the (much maligned) “real” world. The legislation of design practice was also noted as potentially providing a foundation for design-led business initiatives that celebrate design and prove the effects of design on the client’s wallet, social spaces, health and wellbeing.

val·ue (verb) _ to calculate or reckon the monetary value of; give a specified material or financial value to

With the current economic climate shifting, practices have been forced to undercut fees to acquire good projects. Establishing an agreed fee structure through professional DIA membership policies would be a start to conveying the financial benefit of good design to potential clients. This would additionally allow practices to compete for jobs based on the quality of their work and expertise in particular areas, rather than on the financial bottom line. The design profession continually needs to prove itself as commercially responsible to clients and time lines. In doing so, the profession’s profile in the business world can be built with further target markets identified. This may, in part, be developed via a keen and clever marketing plan and/or strategy developed through the DIA, which can begin to brand the profession as both reliable and invaluable.

Tasks were divided and each practice agreed to pursue and develop a particular area of interest. The outcomes, no doubt, will require patience and perseverance. But with such vivid and vital emergent themes, and the collaborative force of those who participated, the design profession has good odds on addressing these pressing issues.

Note: Valerie Mack, associate at Woods Bagot and commercial interiors representative for the DIA, organized this event. Invitees included Bronwyn Pratt (Hassell), Megan Ronnfeldt (BVN), Jeffery Copolov (Bates Smart), Sue Carr (Carr Design), Ryan Russell (Russell and George), Robert Puksand (Gray Puksand), and Sonia Simpfendorfer (Nexus Designs). Robyn Lindsey (Geyer) was the facilitator. James Harper (Victorian President of the DIA) was in attendance.

Source

Discourse

Published online: 1 Dec 2011
Words: Niki Kalms
Images: Jonathan Butler

Issue

Artichoke, December 2011

Related topics

More discourse

See all
Render of Baugruppen at WGV, Perth, designed by Spaceagency Architects. A “live project,” it will allow the design and construction of apartments to be initiated by buyers – a participatory process that is unprecedented in the Australian marketplace. Housing Diversity: Opportunities for Transformation

To address contemporary housing challenges, architects will need to take n an “all-of-system” approach to the delivery of the built environment. Shane Murray examines national …

Devaluing care: The issue of unpaid hours Devaluing care: The issue of unpaid hours

Lynda Simmons discusses how the hours spent ‘working’ and ‘caring’ are divided and how that might affect architecture practices.

Bushfire haze over Sydney. ‘We have a responsibility’: architects make carbon neutral pledge

A new initiative has seen a number of Australian architecture practices commit to becoming carbon neutral businesses by the end of 2020.

Aerial photograph of Darwin’s CBD. Ethical and scientifically sound architectural solutions to the climate crisis

Can architecture and construction science influence the regional and global climate crisis and provide credible, scientifically sound and ethical solutions?

Most read

Latest on site

Calendar