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Design Decisions

Decisions, decisions, decisions and so much choice. How do we make a design decision when there is a myriad of options available and all of them daunting? As an architect, we have been trained to make those decisions and to respond in an informed and conscious way to make the choice that best suits the design, the client, and ultimately their pocket.

One of the biggest beginner mistakes that people make when designing is what I call the ‘unconscious design decision’. Simply put the novice makes a decision which has had little or no forethought and then concludes to think it’s a good one. They then quickly move on and set out designing around this initial flawed choice. This results in the design being mechanical and rigid and so as a result will not feel right, look good, or ultimately work. This often leads to delays and conflict and can be both emotionally and financially draining.

To overcome this it is important that we all learn how to make a conscious decision. To make a ‘conscious decision’ we first need to understand why we are making the decision, what our end goal is, and what are the possible consequences of our choice? We must rationalise and have valid reasons for every decison we make as every ‘thing’ we put in or take out will affect the quality of the design and ultimately the result. 

When we think about why we are doing something and what the consequences might be, then our whole decision-making process is moving in the correct direction. And when our choice has multiple logical reasons backing it up, then it begins to make even more sense and is a much easier decision to live with.

For example, when deciding on the location of a door, we may choose a location because it’s functional,  because it’s economical, and because it’s aesthetically pleasing. In this instance, the design decision is being informed by three valid reasons, and so then we know that we have arrived at a valid design decision. This then informs our design and helps us to create truly good spaces and architecture.