Growing up around people who understand design, who change their sofa cushions based on the seasons, or who can choose the right flowers that go together in a bouquet, has been both a blessing and a curse. While I like to think I have inherited the basic design principles and they have been refined during my time in education, it wasn't until I moved away from the design world (literally) and started living with a doctor (who is a lot less driven by aesthetics), that I realised some people can't think in design!
What I mean by this is less profound. It just means that they struggle to see how colours, shapes and ideas can come together to create something. Whether that be a room design, an outfit or an image. They struggle to articulate what they want something to look like, and sometimes they have no idea's at all for what they want. As someone who always has an opinion on how I want something to look (and feel, and smell...) it has sometimes been hard to take a step back and incorporate other people's ideas even if they insist they don't have any!
This can be incredibly difficult when working with a client. Especially if this client gives me free reign or asks what I would want. Because although they might not know it, they do have opinions and often when they see an outcome they know straight away if it's right or not! That feeling, right there, that's the opinion that I have to drag out of some of my clients. Kicking and screaming if I have to!
There are a few ways that I go about doing this. Most often I start with a moodboard, or several. These combinations of images, colour schemes and sometimes my own doodles, can help give options. Instead of having to describe, my client can just say yes or no, or I like this but not this! I find that it's these clients that take a lot longer on the first stage of work, the research and development stage, but can ultimately be the most successful in the long term.
I also always ask if the client has a Pinterest board, or images they have saved. Pinterest is a fantastic free tool and is an easy way for us to keep adding ideas throughout the project. Sending examples of competitors work is also hugely helpful to me, and even if a client doesn't send these, it is always one of the first things I look at. I want to see what my clients competition will be and find new and unique angles of design to approach the brief with.
I hope that by the time I come to an end of a project with a client, I have helped give them the tools to articulate their brand and announce with more strength exactly what it is and what it looks like! And if nothing else... it sure will look pretty!