What is "Democratic Design"? [New]


A lot has happened to the residential design world since 2009 when I wrote this post on Democratic Design, but the zest of the piece is still the same.

Over the last several years I've learned that this idea was a bit premature for the masses but the design industry empirically understood what democracy in a design process can me but not everyone gets to vote on everything. I continue to work in a democratic process but we still remain autonomous to the form and function of what we design and we continue to make the decisions for our clients that are really left to the professionals.

The idea of democracy in interior design can be uncomfortable to some professionals because it means that the client becomes more involved inside the design process. This doesn't have to be a bad thing and there are ways that we can involve clients in the process without compromising the order of operations. How I approach involving my clients is through communication, tasks and deliverables. Our Design Team allows them to made decisions and provide their input on their home. For example, we may take on the guts of the design, like the interior architecture and space planning, while the client may take on the interior styling and decor based upon their own sensibilities. We always offer them feedback and suggestions if they ask because it is generally something we can quickly do without interfering with the rest of the design process. This is called accessibility.

IKEA describes Democratic Design with the elements of accessibly being form, function, quality, sustainability and price. Watch them describe their take in this video below:

It's not a far off idea, accessibility elements, but not many of us small businesses do not have the same clout with the consumer-based part of interior design (and we certainly do not have video production houses at our disposal to make catchy videos.)

I wrote a phrase a while ago, "your house, your rules", and received a lot of positive and negative feedback. I'll be honest, that is what I wanted because it's better to learn from dialogue than to be ignorant to an idea. What came out of that was an idea that there still must be a compromise between full service interior design and being able to help clients solve their big design problems without costing a lot. I needed a method, tool, something to be able to collaborate better with clients instead of emails, online storage, idea books, Pinterest boards and paper being all over the place. I needed an online collaboration tool.

It took me a while to find the right fit, but I found one that I couldn't build to help me solve this collaboration problem within my design firm. As a result I recently launched Remote Design packages that continue to empower the client and collaborate with them on their design journey. These can work far and wide, coast to coast, or right in our backyard. In fact, the majority of our clients who are using this service are local and welcome to drop by our office any time to discuss or communicate with us by using private messaging within the tool.

We revolutionized how we communicate and collaborate with clients, and if you're a design professional wanting to know more I encourage you to private message me and I'd be happy to share, but if you're a client and wanting to take a linear approach to working with a bunch of creatives, then we're your team.