Nicholas Sunderland, design director of Twos Company Interior Design and NS Interiors, discusses the need to work closely with contractors.
If you are an interior designer reading this you have probably fumed at some point when a contractor comments, “Oh you’re here to do the cushions and curtains!”
For me it was always the end part of the design and with my own contractors on board a project, we would design, adapt and develop as the project grew. My team understood the importance of design and grew to understand the flexibility required as things took shape, and changes were for the best.
Partnering with a clients’ contractor or architect can at times be where resistance is met, and we are seen as interfering. There are always reasons why a structure is designed by the architect in a certain way, and why a contractor wants to do things his way, so I always sit down go through the design and listen, and this is where the education starts, on both sides. Years of experience has taught me that a schedule is the important aspect of a project to the contractor, so agreeing to work to that has always calmed things down. The architect needs more persuading but that builds in time, the correct way is to pick the points you may want to change, to follow your clients’ brief, and discuss with an open mind.
It’s particularly important that all sides work together in a hotel brief as not only time is of the essence, but cost is also a major factor. Finding solutions that can make the contractors’ job easier, taking the headache away from the architect and/or project manager builds confidence, and proves early on that we are more than just soft furnishings, but are here to help.
Regular meetings and discussions giving prior warning of any changes and improvements always, I find, get the contractor on my side to streamline the process and keep on schedule by having them consult me themselves. Asking their advice is important, it shows you value their opinion and knowledge while further building bridges.
At Twos Company we also have architectural interior designers and this is a major advantage to a hotel contractor working to full room GA plans and tight specifications. With clear plans and instruction based first on the Architects drawing, if any and additional input on the design provides clear instructions for the initial construction. This way the overall design takes shape easily and without a hitch.
Cushions and curtains? Well that comes later…