What is the Visioning Process?

We sat down with Michelle Widner, IIDA, NCIDQ, to learn more about the visioning sessions that she leads with some of our clients.

Michelle, what is the purpose of a visioning workshop at the start of the design process?
MW: We want to walk into a project with an open mind so we have the ability to understand a client’s needs, concerns and issues before the design begins. A visioning session is a way to connect with a client and “dig deep” to get know who they are and what they want to accomplish. Sometimes we have a client who has a very clear vision of who they are and what they are doing – in this case the exercise is more for our benefit to absorb that information. Other times, a client may be struggling how to articulate their company’s vision, and this encourages them to come together and define their ideas and get on the same page. Also, more often than not, clients identify needs and goals they didn’t know they had as a direct result of this process.  In addition, by having a group express their thoughts and ideas, it helps get buy-in and build camaraderie.  Most importantly (for us!), it gives us the opportunity to bond and build trust with our clients.
What kind of client would benefit from a visioning/branding session?
MW: Any client or project type can benefit from the process. It can be as simple as an informal meeting discussing the client’s goals and aspirations. The term “visioning session” can sound intimidating. But all it is, in a nutshell, is discovering the client’s needs (known and unknown) and building trust. For interiors, it is especially helpful for clients who desire a unique aesthetic and/or program needs or want branded environments.
How does this process support/combine with the other services the interior design team provides? How will it influence design?
MW: First and foremost, design is problem-solving. The sooner we identify the issues important to the client, the less time we waste in the design process revising and re-revising drawings. If we address all the problems and concerns prior to putting pen to paper, the more time (and money!) we save the client.  By discovering what the project is and what they want to achieve, we can understand the client at their deepest level and be proactive in our designs.

Pictured: Washington State Employee’s Credit Union revitalized its Sprague branch in 2019, revealing a member-focused space that reflects their current brand. We love the bright and inviting result. Bernardo Wills Architects provided architecture and interior design services for this project.

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