Fact: the kitchen is the most exhilarating and the most expensive part of the residential market.
These days, clients are taking as much accountability for the design process as the kitchen designer. No longer is the kitchen designer completely responsible for the design concept or inspiration with big box stores or large manufacturers using technology, online advertising, and print media (more rare these days) to pimp their wares. It's been more seldom lately that I offer a complete design concept because clients just don't want to pay for it anymore, and, let's face it, we're too busy to wait for the ideas to flush out. Remember, style and price are symbiotic of each other, what you do to one affects the other (see earlier post: Seven transformative laws of design.)
One traditional part of the design process is the inspiration board. Usually apart of the bidding process, putting together an inspiration board is a deeply thoughtful step in establishing the overall theme and style of your project. This great design tool far to rarely used because the consumer wants things lickity-split and lightening fast. Finding inspiration is a very important exercise is time-saving with your designer because the last thing we want to hear is "I don't like it." or "It's not the design I wanted." So I ask an important question to all the potential clients out there.
If you could prevent redundancy in your daily routine or workplace, would you implement it?
Likely the answer is "YES" with a big shout out. So why wouldn't you want to make the process easier for your designer and explain your thoughts and ideas with supporting evidence of some sort while you're at it? And, of course, who wouldn't want to do this from the comfort of their own home. Stop wasting time by running from cabinet shop/showroom and trying to figure out what you like, because if you spent just one hour finding inspiration you will save yourself (and the commission sales person) volumes of time. As some point, running around like a chicken with your head cut off is going turn away the professional design because this is a warning sign of what type of client you could be. Just saying.
Exercise: Inspirational tagging
Tagging is similar to the graffiti exercise that makes your presence known in a particular civic area, but for designing it can be done a couple of ways, depending on the client. While doing this exercise, it's important to remember your foundation that we discussed in Step 1: The Project Scope and if it looks expensive, it probably is.
The old school way with shelter mags and sticky-notes whereby the client spends less than one minute per page and tags a page or item they see by writing one word on the sticky-note. This is a quick exercise but is limited by what's in the magazine or magazines available (which are less and less, these days.)
While on house tours, open houses, or walking around showrooms the client can photograph what they see. This is so much easier with Smartphones now. Copy and paste the images to a thumb drive and bringing them to the designer, while during a slide-show discussion the designer takes notes. How you find the images could be relatively simple these days with Google searches, you stumble upon another designers site, looking through their portfolio and as long as they don't show to many fugly 20-20 Design drawings you're good to go. (See what I did there? I slagged 20-20. You know who you are. Yuck.)
Taking photography one step further, why not draw upon other designers portfolios that are already online using a great tool that is already online for you? With Houzz you can create your own profile (no, they don't sell your information to someone else) and start tagging photographs that are pre-sorted for you by style and room. Everyone that is looking at a new kitchen design project, or any design project really, should be using Houzz. And you designers take note, even I use Houzz (because I'm a Ninja-Lux-Designer) to tag ideas so that I can simply communicate them with clients.
Houzz is so easy to use. You can set up a designer profile, a client profile, whatever, and start tagging photos and inspiration to our Ideabook. There is no other resource like it out there that is exclusively for the residential interior/exterior market - NONE.
Now, enough yacking, if you want to get with me you have to go forth and inspire! But watch out, I move fast.