Is your Architect listening to you?

For the design team at Knoxville-based Studio Four Design, we live by a simple mantra: Design Matters. Whether we are designing an intimate worship facility, an innovative retail space or the home of a client’s dreams, our architects and interior designers work closely with our clients to help deliver a solution that will inspire and enthrall them for years to come.

Delivering architectural designs that meet client expectations can be a lengthy and involved process at times. The needs and requirements of a client can occasionally be in juxtaposition with architectural requirements due to varying complications, including site selection, local zoning requirements, budgets and a host of other factors. Our architects and interior designers work closely with our clients to help them understand the parameters of what can be created within these constraints to find a common ground to create what the client is looking for.

The prevailing thought for our team can be summed up by the following quote:

“Many can hear, fewer listen and only a handful can effectively execute what was said to begin with.”

If you have worked with an architect or architectural firm in the past and have felt as if they were not truly listening to you, understanding the characteristics of a good listener can help you better determine if they are following your vision or their own. For a designer to be a good listener, they must:

Ask good questions. If your architect listens to your vision and doesn’t offer questions or asks for clarification of your points, the likely conclusion is that they are not truly listening to what you have to say about your project. A good architect has done their homework in advance of your initial consultation and knows the right questions to ask about the problem you need to solve.  They will dive in and probe for deeper understanding of what you are hoping to accomplish.

Be focused and engaged. A good architect will be engaged in conversations and focused on the ideas and concepts that you are presenting. If your architect is distracted by other tasks at hand or is automatically making too many references to similar projects that they can adapt for your solution, the likelihood of you getting something original is low and being unhappy with the design is high.

Document and summarize discussions: As you are explaining your hopes and desires for the project that you are hoping to create with an architect, the lack of note-taking may be a sign that your architect is not fully engaged with your project. An architect that is taking notes, interjecting questions for clarification at the appropriate time and who summarizes your discussion at the end and then follows that up in writing is more likely to understand the goals for your project.

Clarify, not assume: In the same way that a good architect will be taking notes to understand your salient points in regards to your design ideas, a good architect will ask for clarification instead of making an assumption on what hoping to accomplish. Time and money can be wasted in the design process if your architect assumes that your design will need to incorporate some elements that may need to be eliminated or revised due to a lack of understanding.

Present alternatives: Sometimes, there are things a client requests that are not always achievable or practical for a variety of reasons. An architect that is listening to you and engaging in the process will offer creative alternative solutions for consideration that can be a remedy to a potential issue that may not have occurred to you.  Or after evaluating and considering everything they have heard from you they may simply pose another way of creatively solving the problem that you may not have considered. An architect that is not listening to you may gloss over these potential problems or present only one option incorporating more of their own ideas, instead of presenting a solution to you that offers the best potential for a win-win.

There are many designers who take the position that their ideas are what’s best for the situation regardless of how well they respond to what the client has requested. For the designers at Knoxville-based Studio Four Design, our ideology of “Design Matters” means that we focus obsessively on meeting the needs of our clients through design inspiration, hard work and a sense of collaboration between our teams and our clients to create memorable solutions from complex problems. If you are interested in learning how you can leverage the knowledge and expertise of our architects to create a worship facility, retail center, office environment or a home design that you have dreamed of, contact Studio Four Design today.