Former entrants in the KBDi Designer Awards program will know that both Design Briefs and Design Statements are requirements in most categories. We’re sometimes asked why this is necessary, and often get a ‘please explain’ about the difference between the two.

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

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. It will also 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 concise and to-the-point reminder of your key objectives, 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 a great point of reference if your project turns 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 how you’ve responded to your Client’s wish list, and how you have dealt with restrictions or expanded the opportunities of the given building space.

Preparing the Design Statement before presenting your final concept to the Client is as essential 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 impress your Clients with your professional 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 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 following three ‘rules’ will help keep your statement succinct:

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

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

(3) describe how you fulfilled the Client’s wish list.

Forget the fluff and faff

Flowery words like fabulous, marvellous and gorgeous are rather 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 straight-forward and relevant terminology to convey how you’ve used these visual tricks to make your design an aesthetic success.

Use your spell check (and read it out loud)

If you consider yourself a design professional, you’ll want to make sure your writing reflects this. A spell check will pick up basic spelling errors, but pay extra attention to industry-specific words and brands. Yes, your clients are paying for your design skills, and they may not expect you to be a grammar geek. They will, however, hope you have a great eye for detail, and having an error-free statement is one more way to demonstrate your attentiveness.

And finally, to ensure your text is 100% accurate, read it out loud! Use your computer’s text-to-speech function to hear the words out loud; you’ll easily pick up any misses or duplications.

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 merely 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!