Interior Design

How to Write a Design Rationale

October 8, 2017
How to Write a Design RationaleHow to Write a Design Rationale (Updated)

In school, we were taught the essentials of designing spaces. However, not much importance was given as to how to present our designs professionally.

It is easy to justify a design when it is orally presented. But what happens when the justification of your design can only be done in writing?

This is when a good design rationale will have to do the job for you.

What is a Design Rationale?

In interior design, a design rationale explains the reasons behind decisions made when designing a space.

The decisions a designer faces when designing a space includes:

  • Layout — space divisions (rooms) + furniture
  • Ceiling & lighting
  • Materials & finishes
  • Color scheme + pattern, print & texture

When explaining the decisions you’ve made on those mentioned above, constantly answer the question why. With conviction in your writing, justify your design and every aspect of it.

The 3 Parts of a Design Rationale
  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion
Introduction

Briefly introduce the design problem, and explain how you solved the problem. This may include your layout decisions or the highlight of your design solution. But make it as brief as possible to save the gist of your design solution for an interesting body.

What is the concept of your design? Let your reader know and understand.

Where did you draw inspiration from? Does your design have a story to tell? Go ahead, and tell the story of your design. Captivate your reader.

Body

This is the substance of a design rationale. This is where you go into detail, explaining the whys of your design:

Layout, ceiling design, lighting, materials, finishes, furniture styles, color scheme, pattern, print, texture, form, scale, etc.

Describe the elements that make up your design; explain what you’ve chosen and why.

In magazines, the order of rooms introduced is based on what one sees once stepping into a space. When writing the body of your rationale, treat it as if you’re walking a new guest through the space.

PS:
When they say you should “make bola,” it simply means that you should use descriptive words (adjectives) that will captivate your readers. Sort of like pulling them into the space, and make them feel the feeling and vibe you want your design to exude.

Conclusion

This should be the best part of your design rationale. Keep in mind that this is the part the readers remember best.

One strategy is to echo your introduction:

Rewrite the design problem introduced in the beginning of your design rationale, sum up your design solution, and stress its importance by proving to your reader that your design solution is the design solution to the design problem.

Let me conclude this post by example:

It is easy to justify a design when it is orally presented. But what happens when the justification of your design can only be done in writing? This is when a good design rationale will have to do the job for you.

A good design rationale describes what you want your design to convey. It proves to the reader that you’ve solved the design problem by justifying every element of your design, showing that each and every element plays a part in the design solution.

A good design rationale constantly answers the question why, and leaves the reader with a clear image and feel of your design concept.

How to Write a Design Rationale eBookI’ve put together an in-depth guide on How to Write a Design Rationale, especially dedicated to graduates who are preparing for the Philippine ID board exam. You can get a free sample of the eBook here, and you can check out the webpage here: How to Write a Design Rationale.

Also See: How to Write a Design Rationale Based on the Elements & Principles of Design

I’m currently taking up an interior design online course, and have learned another helpful way to go about your design rationale. It is by explaining what mood or feeling you wish your space to convey, and then describing how that particular mood (or moods) has been created in each space using the elements and principles of design.

That was the first assignment we were asked to do: “Select three interior spaces that each convey a different message, mood or feeling. Describe how these moods have been created in each space using the elements and principles of design as they have been discussed so far.”

This is what I submitted. I believe it will be of great help to you. Great luck to you all who are taking the board examination! ♡

7 Comments

  • Reply Zaynab Ali33 January 14, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    very usefull! thanks 

  • Reply Jane Hislop July 30, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Is a good idea to include images in the Rationale as an example of showing your design intention? Thanks.

    • Reply Jen.C July 31, 2013 at 9:28 am

      In most cases, a design rationale should be just in words, no images. Besides, you have your perspectives and other drawings to complement your design rationale. 🙂

  • Reply mj September 4, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Hi! this was extremely helpful! I was wondering, are design considerations written separately or can they be included on the body as well? 🙂

    Or wait, is the A. Design Consideration, B. Design Objectives, C. Design Strategies all under the Rationale?

    Thank you! 🙂

    • Reply Jen.C September 5, 2013 at 4:17 am

      The design consideration, objectives and strategies should all be in the rationale. You have no other way of explaining your design but through the design rationale. I’m glad that this article has helped! 🙂

  • Reply AJ Melgar March 15, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Thank you so much! 🙂 It’s really helpful. 🙂

  • Reply Taren March 24, 2016 at 4:42 am

    This is amazing!
    I also visited “How to Write a Design Rationale Based on the Elements & Principles of Design”. These helped me understand with clarity what to write and how to properly express my design concept.
    Very well done indeed.

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