08 Oct Importance of Good Design
What is design? What makes some projects successful while others may seem nice, but miss the mark and feel like something is lacking? How can you ensure that your project will have that “wow factor” where all of the pieces fit seamlessly together? And more importantly, how can you fully understand what your project design will look like when completed — all by looking at a piece of paper on your table and trusting the sales person across from you knows what he or she is talking about? Does this company care about and have experience with my entire project, or is he just trying to sell a pool with the other project elements an afterthought? If you are considering making a significant investment in your backyard, these have to be some of the critical questions that keep you up and night and could make you hesitant to pull the trigger. Is there a way to feel comfortable and confident as you move forward with your project?
Fortunately, there is a way to answer these questions in the affirmative, and they are all related to the skill set and vision of the individual responsible for the design of your backyard. I will say in advance, that there are many qualified design professionals and landscape architects that work for quality pool companies across the country. I have seen countless designs produced by the professional designers from these companies that inspire and amaze. So how then can you know if the companies you are considering for your project can produce the quality design experience you need? Here are some tips that will help you as you consider these questions:
- Is the person responsible for the design and development of your project a Landscape Architect? What design qualifications and background does he or she bring to the table?
- Is the design viewed as a piece of paper used to sell the project, or as the important base for the entire development process?
- Is the project design professional involved throughout the entire construction process, or does he or she move on to the next design and sale, leaving the project management to the construction department?
- Does your design professional meet with you in the presentation of your project design, or has he or she designed the project for someone else to present?
- Does the design professional speak eloquently and confidently about your design, and can he or she explain you the ”why” behind each design decision made?
- Does the company charge you for the design? If they take the design seriously and are confident in their design process, then it costs them a decent amount of time and money, and they should charge you for this service. The phrase, “you get what you pay for” fits here. Paying for a quality design plan is a minimal investment on your part to ensure the quality of the finished product.
Beyond these questions to ask and actions to observe, I will also give you a few practical points to examine about your design to determine if the person producing it knows what he or she is preparing on your behalf. These are a few basic “rules of design” that should be adhered to unless there is a justified reason for breaking them (and some of them just should never be broken).
- Never design with acute angles.
- Make sure all materials used are consistent and congruent across the entire design.
- Always design in odd numbers. Even numbered items appear “matchy-matchy”
- Asymmetrical balance and correct project “weight” are preferable to a symmetrical layout, or no balance at all.
- Sight lines (vertical and horizontal) and focal points are key to any successful layout plan.
- Do not be afraid to “frame” a specific desirable view. If correctly placed, a framing project element does not block the view, but emphasizes the best part of the view.
All of these questions are ones that a professional design professional or Landscape Architect will provide for you, giving you confidence that you are in good hands as you move forward with your project. If you do not have confidence in the design as you begin, then you will probably have a wonderfully constructed finished project that meets every construction standard, but misses the mark and leaves you unsatisfied in the end.
But in many ways, this is not fair to the majority of builders throughout the country. In my experience, I have seen and met with many successful builders who build fantastic, structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing pools for their customers, but they lack the overall vision and detail design expertise that will make or break the overall success of project. These same builders will produce exceptional work as long as they can follow the plans produced or collaborated on by a design professional. Good design is a completely different skill set from the construction process mindset that most good builders possess. As a general rule, they are uncomfortable in their design skills, having enough “school of hard knocks” experience to be dangerous, but, if you asked them honestly, they would not classify themselves as experts in the design field.
This company has been built as an option for both homeowners and builders to bridge this gap – to provide creative, quality design solutions for any quality pool or hardscape contractor to follow. We partner with both builder and homeowner to create the desired vision and see that this vision is adhered to throughout the construction process. The benefit to the homeowner is a comfort level as you move forward with your investment – fully comprehending the scope, scale, and details of the project and understanding just what is necessary to make the project successful. The benefit to the contractor is a complete design solution that fully considers all project elements and provides a plan he can use to build the project and make it a successful one.
If the questions posed at the beginning of this article describe your thoughts and apprehensions as you embark on this process, then I would ask you to either give us a call to discuss your project, or have your preferred pool professional contact us directly to discuss how we can work together, partnering on your behalf for the benefit of your project. The modest investment you decide to make in your design at the beginning of this process will save you time, money, and headaches during the construction process, and will result in a spectacular end product that your family and friends will enjoy to its fullest for years to come!
I will end this discussion with a section I wrote several years ago defining just what a good design entails and what is involved in creating a successfully designed project.
“Design is an artform. It is a trained and skilled eye to see the final product in the mind before it is ever sketched out onto paper. It is attention to site details at the first site visit to determine lines-of-site, focal points to emphasize, existing natural features to be enhanced, and undesirable views to be screened. Design is space-planning with a balance of forms and shapes that not only look good in plan view on paper, but work as functional and aesthetic spaces, displaying balanced visual weight and a correct mass-void placement for a comfortable finished space. Design is a working knowledge of thousands of various finishes and materials used within a project to create a seamless transition from one feature to another as the materials blend to create one congruent backyard theme. Design is a consistent project oversight to maintain quality construction craftsmanship, ensuring the finished product meets the standards of the project envisioned at the beginning. Design is the understanding of the scope of possible or available project elements, knowing which ones work in a setting, which ones do not, and the strength to stand for the right decision even when agreeing with a lesser choice would be the easy solution.
In a good design, every decision, every selection and feature placement has a reason — a why behind its selection or location. A good designer should be able to explain to you the reasons behind the design decisions made, ensuring that the plan has been carefully considered and each decision has been thought through in detail. For all of these reasons, not just anybody has the unique skill set to be a good pool and landscape designer. The overall final success of a project is directly related to the design professional tasked with the project development. His or her role is imperative to ensure the quality of the project from first concept to final detail.”