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
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’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 read the eBook for free by subscribing to my email list.
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! ♡