MEETING THE CLIENTS

The word special to a layperson can mean something different to an experienced designer. Original statement:

“I would like something that is unique to me, but still looks like it belongs.” questions:
“Can you define unique more specifically?”
“Do you want the design to reflect special things that you prefer, such as mate­rials, patterns, or colors?”
Original statement:
“We don’t want anything that stands out; we are a fairly conservative family.”

questions:
“Can you give some examples of things that stand out to you?”
“Can you elaborate on the word conservative Original statement:

“I see the same types of fences on so many different homes. Other remarks about likes and dislikes may be more general and open to interpretation (Figure 5—5). That is, how do the clients currently use their house and site, and how might this change with an improved landscape? Do you have any outdoor hobbies? Again, make sure that comments made regarding any specific aspect of the ar­chitectural character, whether inside or outside, are thoroughly documented. designer will need to return at a later time for a more in-depth study of the site (see Chapter 7). Carefully, very carefully! Being able to discuss ideas as you point to certain archi­tectural features can be beneficial. The next step in the process is for the designer and clients to meet face-to-face to dis­cuss the particulars of the clients and their site. The designer might inquire about each of these topics to stimulate response from the clients. The intent is to begin to define the aesthetics and palette of materials of the landscape design. In addition, the meeting gives the clients and designer an opportunity to discuss the design process and design fees as they relate directly to the particular project. This meeting also allows the designer to see the site in person and to make initial judgments about it. This meeting should take place at the clients’ home to allow the designer to see both the site and house firsthand (Figure 5—4). Comments that include words such as “special,” “unique,” “different,” or “conservative” are subjective and reflect the clients’ thoughts about their proposed project as they envision it. In addition, it is more effective to speak about land­scape design possibilities while you are outdoors. How does a designer transform comments like those stated into meaningful and usable design information? Questions alone may not always be enough. Although there may be some overlap with wants and wishes, this discussion typically relates to defining the clients’ preferences with regard to design style, aesthetic taste, materials (both structural and plant mate­rials), and special elements or features. In any case, documenting their likes and dislikes relating to the exterior character is as crucial as documenting their comments concerning the interior. Do you like to garden? Some site conditions may only be apparent to some­one who has observed the site over a period of time. If this occurs, the designer will need to make a trip to the clients’ site at another time. This informa­tion should include (1) family facts, (2) clients’ wants and wishes (initial program),
(3) clients’ likes and dislikes regarding their landscape, (4) clients’ lifestyle and charac­teristics, and (5) clients’ observations about their house and site. We have found that many subjective comments made by clients tend to relate to their concern for the de­sign character or appearance of elements in the proposed design. Clients’ Architectural Observations Finally, it is very helpful for the designer to seek the clients’ insight about their house and its architectural style. In addition, the designer should ask the clients to identify specific spaces or outdoor use areas that need to be included in the design. The designer should take advan­tage of this unique insight and use the clients’ observations. This information should be well documented, for it can be used later when materials, patterns, and trim details are studied. Clients’ Site Observations The designer should ask the clients to define what they think are the assets and problems of the site. As you can see from Figure 5—7, different people will like different aspects of the architecture. The ultimate purpose of this meeting is for the clients and designer to reach a professional agreement for working together on the design of the clients’ site. How should a designer interpret these types of subjective statements? “I see the same types of fences on so many different homes. Clients’ Lifestyle and Interests Additionally, the designer should try to determine the clients’ lifestyle. As with the site, the clients’ thoughts and observations about their house can provide valuable infor­mation that might provide ideas for developing the site master plan. A meeting at the clients’ house gives the designer an excellent opportunity to fully un­derstand the concerns and interests of the clients in their own setting where they are apt to feel most comfortable. Will you cook or eat outside? It is helpful to discuss the architectural character while you are walking around the exterior grounds (Figure 5—8). I want something that blends with the house.”
“If we could just have something rather simple, but different from others, we would be very satisfied.”
Some comments regarding likes and dislikes are specific and are often relatively easy to incorporate into a design program. They will likely point out particular aspects of their house that influ­enced them to select it. These wishes might be stated like:
“We would like a hot tub for four people in a fairly private place.”
“I want to have about 12 apple trees near the back of the property.”
“I want to have a multilevel deck instead of one main level.”
“We need an extra parking space near the detached garage.”
“We want a new area for entertaining, a large lawn area for children’s play, and a quiet sitting space near the tree in the backyard.”
The designer will use this type of information to create the design program (see Chapter 7). The general descriptions or “goals” tend to describe the feeling or atmos­phere that the clients want and may be phrased in statements such as the following:
“We want the front yard to be a place of inspiration and provide an attractive setting for our visitors.”
“We envision a garden as a haven from the busy world where birds and other wildlife will visit.”
“I foresee an environment where both family and friends can gather in a relax­ing atmosphere.”
The designer can use this information to help establish the style and character of the design. What recreational activities do you enjoy outdoors? They are: (1) the archway and trim detail in the room on the left, (2) the angled roof and window pattern in the great room, and (3) the white stucco finish on many walls of the house. How large are your social events? Client Information
The primary purpose of this meeting is for the designer to obtain essential informa­tion about the clients that will serve as the basis for the design solution. Figure 5-6
The designer should en­courage the clients to ex­press their appreciation for their favoriteinterior archi­tectural features. It is very important to have a better and more thorough understanding of what the client thinks and says. In fact, the clients are quite likely to know more about the site than anyone else because they have lived with and observed the site through the year in different conditions. In some instances, it is acceptable or even necessary for this meeting to take place at the designer’s office. First, the designer should ask the clients whether or not there are any interior features that are of special interest. For a designer to get a better picture of what the client is thinking, it often takes actual pictures to stimulate additional comments. The patterns in the upper win­dow may provide an opportunity to use some irregular cut stone in the design to estab­lish the same kind of contrast.” Discussing ideas as you look at the architecture is very helpful.

Updated: 30.10.2014 — 00:02