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Four Phases of an Interior Design Project

Last year, I spoke at several printing shows, such as the Printing United Expo and the Wide-format Summit. Each time, printers are energized to start selling directly to the interior design market, but many don’t know where to begin. I often recommend they start by familiarizing themselves with the industry. Attending industry trade shows such as NeoCon is a valuable place to research the market and network with designers. I also encourage printers to learn some interior design lingo so they can feel more confident in conversations with designers.

Sorting through samples from the Invisible Threads collection.

In a recent article on Wide-format Impressions, I shared information based on a conversation I had with Sara Whiteley, a senior interior designer at DBVW Architects in Providence, Rhode Island. I asked her what words or phrases she always has to define for her non-designer friends. She said that it was “the phases of a project and design.” Knowing these phases is key to understanding how designers work on commercial design projects. Here is how Sara explains the four phases of commercial design that printers should understand.

Phases of a Project

  • Conceptual
    In this first phase, we communicate our idea with visuals such as vision boards of inspiration photos and materials.
  • Schematic
    Here, we combine the ideas from the conceptual phase with the space or constraints of a project at a very high level. During this phase, we introduce material options, furniture concepts, and loose layouts.
  • Design Development
    This is the phase where we begin to figure out how the concepts work in detail. We learn about constraints and limitations as they relate to things like the building’s mechanical, plumbing, and structural needs. We also flush through ADA requirements and layouts.
  • Construction Documents
    This is when we pull together all the realities of the space learned in the previous phases to create a set of drawings used to communicate all design, specifications, and construction.

For more insight into Sara’s conversation, read the full piece at Wide-format Impressions. If any printers are planning on attending NeoCon 2024, please stop by the Design Pool Booth (#7-3050) to introduce yourself.

Photo credit: Christine McShane

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Kristen Dettoni

Kristen is a visionary textile designer based in Southern New Hampshire with a track record of industry-defining contributions dating back to 1993. She is the Founder of Design Pool and Domanda Design and is an occasional blogger. Her creative influence is reflected in her work across multiple sectors, including automotive, office, hospitality, healthcare and home furnishings. Kristen is an accomplished designer with over thirty years of experience in design with a BFA from Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. She maintains an art practice and exhibits her artwork in juried and group shows throughout the United States. Her artwork has received numerous awards and honorable mentions. Whatever her creative pursuit, Dettoni approaches it with a strong belief in the power of good design to transform our environments and ultimately, our lives.


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