Your Design Project – How the Design Process Works


Sometimes clients who are not familiar with commissioning design work for their project, ask me how the process works, so that they can know what to expect and what is required at each point in the process.

This is a guide to the activities which are carried out at each stage in the design & development process. This is an extended list and not all items may be included in your fee proposal, depending on the nature of your project. Please refer to your own specific fee proposal for the items which are included.


The scope of a cafe project usually comes in a number of Stages;


Pre-Start : Evaluation – Brief, Site visit and  gathering survey information.

Project Stage A : Concept Design - creating a design proposal in terms of a plan and a 3D environment.

Project Stage B : Design Development and Details - producing the information required to fabricate or construct the scheme.

Project Stage C : Implementation – Monitoring progress and/or full project management.



Overall scope description:

During this stage, we need to visit your proposed site, to evaluate the possibilities and understand what you are trying to achieve. Sometimes, clients have an ambitious list of requirements of things that they want to fit into the space, so in this evaluation, we can establish how the business will be operated and what the spatial requirements are likely to be.


Some of the issues which can arise at this point are such as;

1.1    Planning Use – Have you obtained the correct Planning Use for the type of operation proposed. This is the client’s responsibility, but we can help with our knowledge of the Planning categories and examples of similar operations in other locations. One of the more difficult questions arises over the A1 versus A3 planning use categories and what the design and layout implications are for each type.


1.2    Site measurements & photographs – If it is feasible to take site measurements at the time of the first meeting, this will be done, so that we can establish the existing general arrangement plans. Often this will be done ahead of making a commercial fee proposal and agreeing terms.


1.3    Existing information – At this time we would like to have access to any existing information, which might include plans or CAD drawings which sometimes a landlord will provide. This helps us assess the amount of work we will need to do and can influence the fee estimate.


1.4    Commencing the project - Following this first stage information gathering activity, we will be in a position to provide a fee proposal for you to consider. We will only carry out further work or make a start on the creative design work following your formal approval and acceptance of our proposal.




Overall scope description:

This stage is all about exploring design directions and creative ideas. The first objective will be to create a working layout plan, to scale. In some cases the proposed layout (also variously referred to as ‘the plan’, ‘the layout’ or ‘general arrangement’) will be tabled in several versions to discuss alternatives and options. The term Concept is used because at this stage the design scheme is relatively speaking, loose and subject to changes following discussion and debate between designer and client. It is not until the Detail Stage that the design proposals are firmed up and then dimensions and details are worked out to suit the Concept scheme proposals. The activities during the Concept Design Stage may typically include some or all of the following;


2.1    Existing plans : Drawing up the existing plan(s) - from the measurements taken previously.


2.2    Proposed plan : Drawing up / Creating a proposed layout plan, drawn to scale – to suit the demands of the agreed brief (usually printed at 1:50 or 1:100 scale).


2.3    Interior design ideas : Creating an interior design scheme proposal for the project, developing the design proposals for the agreed brief, including colours, themes, materials and furnishings ideas.


2.4    Special joinery : Making preliminary design proposals for major manufactured joinery items such as bar servery counters and screens, etc.


2.5    Shop front : Making preliminary design proposals for shopfront design and/or signage.


2.6    Fixed seating : Making design proposals for fixed seating items (booths/banquettes).


2.7    Ceilings : Making design proposals for ceilings and special ceiling features and bulkheads, etc.


2.8    Lighting : Establishing the outline design principles by which the rooms would be lit.


2.9    Mood board : sample boards showing samples of colours and upholstery cloths.


2.10  Logo design : Where it has been agreed within the scope, preliminary ideas for the logo graphic design will be presented.


2.11   Visualisations – the preparation of 3D view(s) of the design proposals, showing how the interior design will look. If requested, high resolution visuals are available at an extra cost (Costs to be agreed).


Typically outputs during this stage can include:

Survey plans – as existing layouts.

Proposed layout (s) with notes on operation/usage.

Visual(s) – Colour SketchCAD type 3D visual(s). At least one interior view of the principal trading area.

Other areas also covered (by prior agreement) include Shop front and ancillary rooms.





Overall scope description:

The work in this stage is concerned with firming up the ideas and proposals generated in the Concept stage and working through the technical details for statutory approval purposes and towards a package of information suitable for obtaining tenders.


3.1    Final plan : Development of the final proposed layout – ‘firming up’ co-ordination and dimensioning the plan - identifying critical measurements for manufacture.


3.2    Proposed elevations : Production of interior and exterior elevations for the principal customer areas and toilets, with annotation, describing finishes, fixtures and fittings.


3.3    Equipment layout : Schedule and positional guide for equipment, sanitaryware, fixtures and fittings.


3.4    Building Regulations : Preparation of drawings ready for Building Regulations submission where required. (Local Authority fees and submission process excluded).


3.5    Planning permission (Advertisement consent): Preparation of Shop front annotated drawings suitable for submission to Planning Authority for Advertisement Consent purposes (Planning Authority fees and submission process work is not included).


3.6    Ceiling details : Drawings of ceiling details, sections and profiles for installation.


3.7    Mechanical & Electrical (M&E) Services : connection points plans, showing catering equipment locations. (Note- This is a limited, generic low level of detail for interpretation by each of the trade individuals and does not include detailed electrical or lighting circuit diagrams and water or gas services or power loading calculations, ventilation calculations or mechanical extract calculations, etc).


3.8     Proposed lighting layout : details of light fittings and lamp types for fittings in each of the areas.


3.9     Furniture layout : a plan showing the furniture refs and specialist upholstery details/ specs.


3.10   Artwork details : detailed proposals for art work features, in terms of sizes, types and styles.


3.11    Menu display design : principal menu display format and design details.


3.12    Signage detail : specification for signage in terms of materials, dimensions and graphics.


3.13    Floor finishes layout : a dimensioned plan showing the flooring spec, with dimensions.


3.14    Decorations schedule : Room by room paint spec and schedule of finishes.


3.15    Special joinery : Preparation of details and setting out drawings for manufacture.


Typical outputs during this stage:

 Detailed floor plans with dimensions and notes.

 Elevation drawings showing the detailed design.

 Reflected ceiling plan showing co-ordinated services positions and lighting.

 Drawing details of specialist joinery and special fixtures and fittings for fabrication.

Schedues & Spec.s detailed schedules and other information for furniture, decorations, light fittings, etc.





Overall scope description:

This stage is concerned with getting the project costs together, finding the best suppliers/shopfitters/builders to realise the design and monitoring the build phase.


4.1    Tendering process – sending out details and specs to obtain quotes.


4.2    Tender negotiations and value engineering – to meet budget.


4.3    Contract administration – making an agreement to supply the goods and carry out the work on site.


4.4    Monitoring the work during construction – checking the build quality and drawing interpretation.


4.5   Programme monitoring -  Checking on progress on site against the agreed programme.


4.6    Liaison with statutory authorities/responding to request for information from contractors on site.


4.7    Health & Safety - Monitoring Health & Safety duties and CDM issues.


4.8    Liaising with Landlord’s agents and other interested stakeholders.


Typical outputs during this stage:

 Meeting notes and reports to client.

 Contract agreements.

Site attendance.

 Liaison with client and interested parties.