How do you judge if a lighting installation is successful? Your first answer may be that – “it depends on how good it looks”. But aesthetics are subjective, and just because something is deemed to look nice, was it really a success if it was over budget, not fit for purpose or not completed for the intended deadline? To determine if a lighting design has really been successful, more measureable parameters are required.
A Design Brief captures the customer’s objective and subjective requirements and will act as the designer’s point of reference throughout the project. Using a design brief allows key project targets to be identified, documented and communicated.
“You need to know what project success looks like at the beginning to stand a chance of achieving it at the end”
The design brief should be started as early as possible. It is likely to evolve along with the design concepts, but must be ‘frozen’ prior to designs commencing to ensure the design teams are working towards an agreed standard.
Projects work best when the key duty holders work as a team and this is also true for the production of a design brief. Whilst the strategic definition should come from the customer. Here the designer’s skills, experience and knowledge can be applied to spark creativity and identify added value for the customer.
Typically a design brief would include:
Background – the designer should understand the usage of the space in order to visualise the desired lit effect
Objective – identify the customer’s key requirements (commercial and technical) and don’t lose focus of them
Time – it is a requirement under CDM to ensure designers are given sufficient time to perform their duties
Constraints – exist in both physical and commercial forms (perhaps the most obvious is budget!)
Hazards – need to be identified so the designer can eliminate, or minimise and communicate the residual risk
Extents – clearly defining the scope will avoid misinterpretation, over-work and scope-creep
Deliverables – these are the tangible outputs the designer produces (eg: renders, calculations, drawings)
Producing a design brief with as much info as possible allows the designer to be very accurate and should prevent the need to go back to the customer for additional information. Without a documented design brief, the whole project team could be working towards separate goals and expectations (as per Image.1) and the end results appear B.O.T.C.H.E.D.