finish selections

Design Thinking During a Pandemic

Like many other companies, VC left the office and began working from home in mid-March and continues to do so today. With the halting of non-essential construction on March 17th, any project in construction immediately went on hold. When so much of what VC does involves being in person working with materials, meeting with clients, and going to construction sites we had to adapt quickly into a new mode of work. Collectively, VC discussed how to bridge the physical divide between ourselves and our clients. Using design thinking, VC tested ways of presenting material and design selections to convey to clients what was being discussed and for what space, because a miscommunication in this phase can cause potential issues and result in missed opportunities down the line.

During schematic design, designers create various concepts to present to clients. Because our designers are showing images of sample products it is not always clear what is being presented so items need to be clearly identified. Physical material boards are translated into digital collages with embedded links for clients to easily visualize and gather information on the products being presented. From this presentation the client selected a hybrid of the two concepts presented so now our designers can work to put together final finishes and design renderings for client approval.

From this presentation the client selected a hybrid of the two concepts presented so now our designers can work to put together finishes for client approval.

finish selections
Finishes selected from presented concepts

Finish presentations pose a challenge as the nuance of materials can only truly be experienced in person. Clients want to know if the proposed upholstery for the cafe is comfortable to the touch; how the light reflects off a particular back splash; or feel the texture of the flooring. If finishes for multiple rooms are presented it can lead to confusion over a call. One designer received samples at home and separated them by room so they could be packaged as sets – with the utmost precaution and care – then sent to the client. This way while participating in the finish presentation the client can easily reference samples for the intended areas.

Turns out clients are enjoying it! Clients are hosting happy hours during presentations, turning meetings into bonding opportunities that further solidify the relationship between client and designer.

Kitchen rendering and materials

There are parts of the process that have not changed. By keeping plans and renderings as part of the presentation with call outs of the different materials clients can better visualize where each material will be once the space is finished. These finish and furniture boards help complete the picture.

At VC we always look to ease the frustration and potential anxieties that our clients might experience during the design process. This part of our process has not changed during the current pandemic but has been improving as we strive to continue providing consistent service and clear virtual communication to support our clients.  

Article By – Julia Pelkofsky, Admin/Marketing Coordinator