Boss Lady

Why you should make your client part of the design team


When it comes to the functional aspects of design, client input is vital to the success of a project. It is therefore important to make clients consider themselves part of the design team. Collaboration is a buzzword that has become synonymous with a ‘your team’ and ‘our team’ approach to teamwork.

Us v them is counterproductive

Client side designers vs. the external design team begrudgingly working together. Not with us. It’s totally the wrong way to look at collaboration and can actually cause problems when it comes to project delivery. The ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality can slow the flow of project critical information and every time a designer doesn’t know the answer to an important question or lacks feedback the creative process suffers. Eventually it becomes an uncomfortable game of he said she said where clients insist of due dates being strictly adhered to and designers stressing about delays caused by this lack of information.

Where this is compounded is when the client is not an individual but an organisation. It’s relatively simple to get along with people who understand the process but often there are many moving parts, other people within your client’s business who do not understand the design process or why you need to know the things you are asking for.

The answer is always a little more teamwork. Integrating yourself within the company, befriending and understanding all the people you will be working with and in turn teaching them about what you need to do and their importance to the project. That whatever their role, they are part of the design team too.


The onus falls on the external designers to communicate to clients how valued and necessary their input is to the design phase. The end result is theirs to live with and they will be happiest with it when they’ve played a vital role. That doesn’t necessarily mean design by committee or blandly following orders – designers are paid to design after all – what it means is that client concerns and ideas need to be appreciated and dealt with as though it came from your own team.

It means taking your client’s input seriously and not just the purse holders. Functional needs are best discussed with the people who will use the space and more often than not that isn’t the finance director. Trust works both ways, designers need to trust the knowledge of their clients and in turn clients will trust designers to create the best design solutions for the problems they presented.

Information is what feeds creativity and creativity is what drives design that is functional as well as beautiful. The best source of information is your clients and that is why it is crucial they consider themselves a part of your team.

And the best thing about working on a project where everyone feels like part of the team and collaborates willingly is it is often a much more enjoyable experience for all involved where high quality design takes precedent.

About Crystel White

Crystel White is Creative Director and CEO of CIA Designs – Crystel White knows the power of design and has dedicated 16 years of her life to commercial interiors. Crystel believes that striking the balance between the culture of a business, the future direction of the company and the impression it wishes to give visitors to make a space beautiful, functional, efficient and appropriate is the mark of truly great design. An Interior Design graduate with First Class Honours and a registered Feng Shui practitioner, Crystel spent 14 years working across a range of design disciplines both in Australia and internationally. During this time Crystel developed an extensive portfolio and reputation in the design industry as well as knowledge of Environmentally Sustainable Design. Crystel leverages her experience and knowledge to create unique, dynamic, tailored, activity based design solutions. And over 40 clients can attest to the quality of her interior designs, the positive effect they have had and the passion and dedication she brings into every project.

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