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Episode 23: Design Phase of a Design Project

rocketfuel-whiteboard-el-segundo-ca-ia-benny-chan
Rocket Fuel in El Segundo, California. Photo by Benny Chan.

In a series demystifying the project process, radioIA host Russell Manthy explores the second design project phase with Principal and Design Director John Hopkins.

PrintOn getting started in the world of design:

I told my parents at age 6 that I wanted to design zoos. And now I’m here, designing workplaces. There may be a connection.

On what design should achieve:

We’re marrying beauty and function: A new workplace should give you goosebumps, but it should also be a place that brings you high levels of productivity.

On how you get to “good” design:

I feel like oftentimes I’m a professional juggler to ensure I’m delivering the best results possible. Design can be very practical; you have to juggle and balance the functions, lighting, technology and acoustics. It’s all a really big part of design, in addition form, color, texture, materiality, and the things you traditionally think of when you hear “design.”

As a designer my Number One priority is the experience of the user. What is the best way to get to their best self? If we only listen to one vision, we’re not doing it right.

On an example of successful workplace design:

I once worked on a project with an ad agency, and their design committee was 12 people. As you can imagine at an ad agency, that can bring lots of opinions. After the client moved in to their new workplace, I went to visit the space. The head of HR gave me a big hug, and asked, “How did you get all our demands, needs, and arguments together into a space that we’re all so happy with?” It was very rewarding.

On replicating success:

Getting all parties involved to define goals clearly: Not the outcomes but the goals. It’s not just for the design team, but bringing it as a banner to client meetings, referencing back and keep that in the forefront. These goals also need to be things that can evolve. They should have staying power but they shouldn’t be so specific that they fail quickly. You have to keep the goals in mind and success will be had.

IA Principal and Design Director John Hopkins (standing) walks clients through a to-scale hand-sketched model. Photo © IA Interior Architects.
IA Principal and Design Director John Hopkins (standing) walks clients through a to-scale hand-sketched model. Photo © IA Interior Architects.

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