Past entrants in the KBDi Designer Awards program will know that the inclusion of both a Design Brief and a Design Statement are requirements in most categories. We’re sometimes asked why this is necessary, and more often receive a ‘please explain’ about the difference between the two.

In this feature, we’ll set out the differences between a Brief and a Statement, and share how designers can use these tools in all projects, regardless of whether they’re being entered into an Awards program or not.

What is a Design Brief?

A Design Brief is, in essence, a summary of the vital information you took away from your first Client meeting. The Design Brief will offer a clear and concise explanation of your Client’s wants, needs and desires, and set out the most relevant restrictions, parameters and opportunities presented by the actual building space.

Summarising your client survey form and assessing your site survey in this way is valuable for both you and your client: you’ll have a short, succinct and to-the-point reminder of what your key objectives are before and during your design process, and your client can enjoy the peace of mind in knowing you’re both on the same page. Formalising your Client’s agreement to the Design Brief (with a signed acknowledgement) also gives you both a great point of reference if your project begins to turn pear-shaped.

What is a Design Statement?

A Design Statement allows you to present your response to the Design Brief in an equally clear and concise manner. Your Design Statement will set out the way in which you’ve responded to your Client’s wish list, and how you’ve dealt with restrictions or expanded the opportunities of the given building space.

Preparing the Design Statement before you present your final concept to the Client is as important as rehearsing your next big speech: with a well-prepared summary of your design thought process, you’ll be clear and confident when selling your design, and will undoubtedly impress your Clients with your professional and considerate service.

How to write a winning Design Statement

When your design has ticked all the boxes for your Clients, and is looking pretty spectacular, it’s tempting to be a little ‘braggy’ when summarising your brilliance in a Design Statement. You may even find yourself getting carried away with some creative writing as you outline your awesomeness, digging out your most descriptive words and design clichés.

Or better still, you could follow the tips below and present an informative, influential and truly professional design statement.

Keep it Simple, Stupid

Apply the KISS principles to your Design Statement: use the Statement for what it is – it’s a response to the Design Brief, and a summary of your design solution. Keep it ordered, too –  the rule of three will help keep your statement succinct:

(1) set out how you overcame challenges of the physical space (site),

(2) how you made it look good (remembering the aesthetics will be visually sold with your mood boards and/or 3Ds and perspectives), and

(3) how you fulfilled the clients’ wish list.

There’s no ‘I’ in TEAM.

A genuinely good design is a team effort: you’ve worked with your Clients to determine a brief, and they’ve shared their dreams, desires and dollars to help you present a winning design. Avoid speaking in first person (i.e. avoid using ‘I’), and remember that the design is about your clients and their space.

Forget the Fluff and Faff

Flowery words like beautiful, marvellous and gorgeous are actually quite ambiguous, and don’t always do your design justice. As a design professional, you will have considered the elements and principles of design from beginning to end of the project; use considered and relevant words to convey how the design is an aesthetic success.

Of course, you should always bring your own sense of style to a Design Statement, and you shouldn’t see the above as a solid set of rules. Consider them simply a set of guidelines to help you develop your own unique voice. And if you have a tip to share, please comment below – we’d love to hear it!