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Help me help you.

Generally speaking, clients want their new investment to function properly and look appealing to a broad audience.  The design process is different with each project, but there’s one thing that should never change – good communication.  Clear expectations lead to happier clients.  I have learned that using my judgement alone as a designer and surprising the client with an unexpected idea rarely goes well.

Early on in the design process, I ask questions that broach design, daily functionality, accessibility, maintenance, programming, and budget.  I like to show examples of work that I think matches their goals.  People seem to have the strongest reactions to photos and these reactions can be catalysts for design elements.  If I could express three things to a client that would help achieve their dream design, it would be:  

1. Answer “what is the purpose of this place?”.  

2.  Identify your inspiration that helps you envision the end result.  

3.  Set a budget, even if it is flexible.

It’s easy for Landscape Architects to keep clients uninvolved in the design process.  Most of the time, it’s unintentional.  Landscape Architects are trained to investigate, analyze, and design attractive places for people.  The things Landscape Architects conceive are not always inherently obvious to clients.  It’s our job to communicate these ideas and visions early to establish a clear and collaborative direction.

The Bottom Line

  • It is incredibly important for designer and client to engage in thoughtful communication early in the design process.
  • Three key words for better outcomes:  Purpose, Inspiration, Budget.
  • Collaboration requires a balanced conversation.