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Dream Schemes

Posted on Thu, 2017-11-23 16:42 by Louise Connor

I love design programmes, as much as any designer, most of us do. I grew up watching Carol Smillie and Laurence Lwellyn Bowen transforming spaces under outrageous time pressure and I was hooked! Even after a long day in the office designing intelligent working spaces for clients, I still love nothing more than kicking off my shoes, grabbing a cup of tea and settling in for an episode of ‘DIY SOS’ or ‘Restoration Man’.

Typically, the morning after ‘Grand Designs’ airs, the studio will descend into an impassioned discussion on every detail of the episode. There’s the usual, “how did those two 23-year-old botanists acquire their £3M budget?” to the almost inevitable furious chorus of agreement on the quality of the interior finishes – rarely to the standard we would like.

Recently, we discovered ‘Ugly House to Lovely House’ and our typical, first-coffee-run-of-the-day discussions now have a new recurring theme; “dream schemes”.

The first act of these near-Shakespearean level design dramas usually features the concept presentation by the chosen architect.

A recent episode saw a residential architect commissioned to design a £150k extension for a couple looking to spend a sensible amount of money on improving the capacity and aesthetic of their home. Enter said architect with a beautifully hand-crafted scale model – including miniature trees – the couple are blown away, it is everything they could have ever dreamed of and they instantly fall in love with it.

Then, in a tragic twist, they discovered that it had been vastly over-specified, to the tune of £300k, breaking the clients’ hearts and sending them into financial meltdown. Their dream was over.

The following morning, there was uproar!

In every one of these studio discussions, at least one us as will say “what if we did that to a client?!”. Often, we must gain a rudimentary understanding of a client’s requirement, style and personality from just one initial briefing meeting to catalyse the design process. On occasion, we will get so inspired that we let some of these early concepts wander in the general direction of “dream scheme” but as designers we have a responsibility to be considered in our approach and sensitive to budget – and the potential for broken hearts and broken dreams.

So, we reign it in and do as we are trained to do; what our clients deserve and expect. We design an inspiring space that meets their brief and to their budget. Dreams intact.

Then, at the end of the day, we head home, we switch on the TV and imagine what we’d dream up if it was our turn on Grand Designs – only occasionally considering a career in botany.


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