Pains and Frustrations of Architects and Interior Designers

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Challenges and Pain Points for Architects

Key takeaways

  • There are several challenges that architects face as they design buildings. An architect's drive is to design an iconic building. However, finding suitable materials to meet their needs and the client’s needs is challenging for architects. Architects should have the power to efficiently specify the materials used in a building.
  • Architects not only design for usability and functionality but also the experience. The current design and material section tools lack descriptions to evaluate the intangible and sensory aspects of the materials when mapped with architectural models.
  • The material selection process must be detailed. The typical material section process is based on a collection of standardized performance attributes, and this implies that materials are not selected for materials but the ‘material system.’ By creating an all-inclusive material selection process, architects can use a material selection process that is highly descriptive and avoid ambiguous discussions about the different material aspects between architects and clients.
  • In construction, there is a constant struggle between good design and cheap construction. Architects must create more powerful methods of communicating the power of their designs and how they add to the value of the finished building in both quality of life and monetary terms.
  • Value engineering aims to strike a balance between cost reduction and maintaining a building's architectural integrity. Over time there has been a notable increase in the cost of building materials globally. All stakeholders must meet and decide how to overcome design issues, find alternative solutions and evaluate pricing options.

Introduction

Information on challenges faced by architects has been provided in the findings below. The ' Research Strategy ' section below explains any strategies and assumptions used in our research.

Material Specification

  • An architect's drive is to design an iconic building. However, they are also responsible for complying with and maintaining building codes. They also accommodate a client’s buying trends based on the housing market. Finding suitable materials to meet their needs and the client’s needs is challenging for architects. This is because they often cannot find the proper data on technical product specifications from manufacturers.
  • In a fast-moving society, the delay in product data acquisition is not something architects should accept from manufacturers. The challenge facing architects is making manufacturers understand the need for digitization of product specifications and increasing how fast product samples are delivered. Architects should have the power to efficiently specify the materials used in a building.

Lack of Information

  • Architects not only design for usability and functionality but also for the experience. For architects, the materials that shape environments are influenced greatly by the client’s or users’ perception. Therefore, material selection is not only about meeting the client’s material requirements. The appearance of the materials and sensory behavior are equally important.
  • Material performance such as compression strength or durability is strongly considered during material selection. Architects also consider sensory stimulation and user experience aspects based on colors and texture. Additionally, the architect could have a specific atmosphere they want to be reflected by the material, such as evoking a feeling of formality in a lawyer’s lobby or trendiness for a lunge bar.
  • The current material data sheets and selection tools offer information on the technical properties of the materials and their performance. However, they lack descriptions to evaluate the intangible and sensory aspects of the materials when mapped with architectural models. Even though there are many books about the intangible aspect of materials, the interest is limited to the description of phenomena. There are no clear and comprehensive descriptions of the aspects to improve an architect’s materials selection process.

The Selection Process

  • Before investigating the tangible and intangible aspects of materials in architecture, the material selection process must be detailed. The typical material section process is based on a collection of standardized performance attributes, and this implies that materials are not selected for materials but the ‘material system.’
  • Limiting the design of structures to systems specification impedes design innovation and opportunities based on materials. There should be a change in the material selection model such that it frames aspects that contain these opportunities. It is important to identify, organize, map, and describe various comprehensively considered aspects during material selection. Through this, it will be possible for architects to use the material selection process and avoid less ambiguous discussions about the different material aspects between architects and clients.

Arguing for good design over cheap construction

Dealing with value engineering

  • The cost of building materials has increased significantly. The price variations are market-dependent, but there has been a notable increase in the process. This is because clients must learn to cope with higher design costs and builds.
  • Value Engineering has placed architects and developers at loggerheads. The increase in material costs coupled with supply chain and inventory constraints has further exacerbated the problem. At its worst, value engineering makes a building cheap. The goal of value engineering is to create value for money. However, if the goal is to lower capital investment, it is easy to strip buildings of their architectural quality and even minimize operational performance rather than enhance it.
  • The best value approach must be collaborative between the client, contractor, architect, suppliers, and other stakeholders. Through collaborative efforts, it is possible to identify and solve design issues, find alternative solutions and evaluate different pricing options.

Research Strategy

For this research on the challenges architects face, we leveraged the most reputable sources of information available in the public domain, including industry-related websites such as Design Haus, EasyRender, Building, Architizer, and Manobyte, among others.

Part
02
of two
Part
02

Challenges and Pain Points for Interior Designers

Introduction

This report identifies five major pain points, related to choosing materials, that interior designers face as identified by expert analyses and reliable studies. These challenges are the type of material, the client's budget, compliance with regulations, outdated features, and the complexity of products.

Major Challenges Faced by Interior Designers

1. Selection of Materials

  • The type of material to be used for interior design projects is an important issue faced by interior designers. This is an issue because the type of material is a major component of the process as it determines the functionality and performance of the entire design.
  • The type of material used also "seeks to create a mental image consisting of the materials used in the inner space and affects the process of users' perception of the inner space".
  • Using environmentally sustainable materials, based on certain characteristics of the material is crucial for reducing the environmental impact of the selected material.
  • The characteristics of the material to be used for interior design can be determined from different sources of materials such as locally sourced, durable, reused, and upcycled materials.
  • Exploring the characteristics of sustainable materials for interior design selection ensures that the interior design process becomes part of "environmental sustainability systems, as it contributes to preserving natural resources, reducing pollutant emissions, and reducing energy consumption, in addition to that, the sustainable interior design contributes to reformulating the cycle of using natural resources."

`2. Client's Budget

  • The type of material to be used in an interior design project is a factor of the client's budget.
  • It is a major challenge for the designer when the client wants to redesign their bedroom, bathroom, basement, or kitchen. However, they are unsure if embarking on this project is within their budget.
  • Most times, clients tend to want a design they love while also wanting to get it at a great value.
  • In such cases, the designer is left with no choice but to resort to other redesigning approaches such as "repurposing old furniture, making simple but efficient fixes (like repainting), and using paints or textures to mimic luxury materials like hardwood and marble".

3. Compliance

  • Ensuring the use of regulatory-compliant materials during interior designing is crucial as non-compliance with the required standard comes with fees, fines, and penalties.
  • It becomes a major challenge for the designer if he/she is not knowledgeable about the "safety measures with existing regulatory and legal requirements such as accessibility standards and building codes."
  • As such, it is important that interior designers are up-to-date with news from relevant sources and routinely consult city websites for updates when there are changes in municipal orders to project-related activities.

4. Outdated Features

  • Choosing the material for an interior design project can also be challenging when the features of the apartment are outdated.
  • There are situations where the apartment has a high potential to be exploited, however, the features are no longer fashionable.
  • In such a situation, choosing more recent features for the project becomes a major pain point as they can not fit with out-of-date fixtures.
  • This challenge can only be surmounted if the outdated feature is replaced entirely with a modern one.

5. Complexity of Product

  • The complexity of certain furniture products is another major challenge for interior designers.
  • Certain products are "very modular, with complex rules and many options to choose from" even though it is a concerted effort by the manufacturers to make the products as flexible as possible to aid the reach of the product.
  • However, the challenge of this approach is the amount of effort necessary to understand and be familiar with the product, configure, quote, and communicate a solution to the customer.
  • "A relatively simple chair like Catifa 46 from Arper has more than 1 million possible combinations. For a wall partition, a kitchen, or a library the combinations possibilities are so high that they can hardly be quantified".

Research Strategy

To identify five material selection-related challenges faced by interior designers, we depended on analyses and studies published by experts and research organizations as found in reliable sources such as Research Gate, LinkedIn, Designdoc, and Pro-Link, among others. However, while these challenges are not peculiar to door handle selection, we have focused on the broader challenges faced by interior designers as related to material selection. We have collated major pain points identified by different publications and have carefully selected only pain points that are capable of affecting material selection.

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