Designers create visuals for clients, and to share information with other members of the design team. You’ll need to know how to select the right visual for the right use at the right time.
Learn which presentation types fit the goal. It’s all about show and tell (sell).
Purpose of Interior Design Client Presentations
Small residential projects with one decision maker, usually need an informal meeting with a copy of the report and a few visuals.
Larger projects, especially commercial projects, have several stakeholders. These often require a formal written report with presentation boards or other visuals.
Regardless of the project size or complexity, the goals are to get:
- Client comments and feedback
- Approval to proceed with design and continue to the next project phase
The presentation format may include face-to-face meetings or virtual presentations, teleconference or Skype.
Presentations are typically done at the end of these two phases:
- Programming phase — to proceed to the Design Development phase
- Design Development phase — to start preparing Construction Documents
Interior Design Presentation Documents
The goal of design presentation varies with the different activities in each phase of design. The designer should consider the types of decisions and desired outcome of the presentation to determine which type of visuals are most appropriate.
This phase is about demonstrating that the design solution meets the project’s functional requirements. Visuals used to communicate design solutions during programming can include:
- area requirement summaries
- parti diagrams
- concept sketches
- adjacency diagrams
- bubble diagrams
- stacking diagrams
Design Development phase
During the design development phase, solutions are refined. The designer’s goal is to gain approval for final plans, specific materials and furnishings. The goal is to get client approval to proceed to construction documents.
Floor plans, material and color boards
Floor plans illustrate the design solution in 2-D. These show the client the layout of the building’s construction and how the furniture fits into the space. Floor plans also illustrate adjacencies, clearances and traffic flow throughout the space.
Material boards show the finishes selected for the project. It’s ideal to have an actual sample of each material on the board showing the texture, weight and true colors. Samples displayed on material boards may include:
- Wall covering
- Millwork finishes / wood stain
- Hardwood flooring
- Window shades
- Drapery fabric
- Upholstery fabric
- Bedding fabric
- Decorative pillow fabric
Models, mock-ups and prototypes
Many people find understanding floor plans and elevations challenging. For larger projects, renderings and models show the design in 3-D to help the client better understand the volume of the space.
Study models are sometimes prepared during the design development phase for use by the design team. These are sometimes crude and made out of cardboard or foam core. These study models, also known as concept models and working models, are usually made at 1/4 or 1/2-inch scale.
Presentation models, are more common for larger projects. They’re most often used for formal client presentations. Detailed presentation models are now easier to fabricate with techniques like 3-D printing. They’re often used for architectural projects and show the whole building.
A mock-up is a life-size model of design. It can be of a single piece of furniture or a construction mock-up of an entire space.
A prototype is similar to a mock-up, but it offers the opportunity to test the design. A model hotel room is a good example of a construction prototype.
A construction mock-up of the room itself with samples of all furniture allows for testing the function of the space. Do the bed lamps on the nightstands reach the outlets? Is there enough space to pass between the bed and the desk? Does the bed coverlet pool on the floor?
Rendering and digital media
Rendering / 3-D modeling
3-D computer modeling make it possible to do a walk-through or fly-through a space. Most 3-D modeling software includes a finish library, and scans of actual selections can be mapped onto surfaces. However, these would not replace actual material samples or presentation boards.
While the production time to create renderings can be an initial investment, changes can be made more easily than with physical models.
Some rendering and modeling software interior designers use include: SketchUp, AutoCAD 3DS Max, Rhino and Form-Z.
Mastery of graphic software is an increasingly important skill for designers. Designers create presentation materials that can be easily shared with clients and potential clients.
Designers can combine images of finishes, furniture, floor plans and photographs in a single presentation.
Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are two popular software programs. Photoshop is useful for image manipulation while Illustrator may be used for furniture and pattern design. Adobe InDesign is also commonly used for assembling presentation layouts and boards.While rendering software produces more realistic interior presentations, many designers still use hand rendering.
Hand rendering is preferred when the designer wishes to allow more room for interpretation. The designer can present the architectural features and the mood of the space, without the finished space needing to match the rendering exactly. Designers also combine hand rendering techniques with software. Color can enhance hand drawings in Photoshop, as in rendering above.
Ultimately, the designer must remember the goal of the presentation. The job is to help with client decisions and approval, so the project can progress.