Monday, February 7, 2011

Design Tip #42: "Be Inspired"

To stay fresh and creative, try developing a simple “inspiration” board/study on the front end of a new project. Scan magazines, books, or explore internet content for creative solutions in architecture, interiors, product design, interior design and exhibit design that are not your own. By looking for creative inspiration outside of your usual circles at the beginning of a project you are less likely to regurgitate those same ideas over and over again.

Core iPhone App?

No…we do not have an iPhone app. But after a few enhancements, the Core Design Group web site can now be viewed on your iPhone or iPad.

Core Design- For Your Phone!

Project Spotlight: VW Auto Show

This is an auto show concept we developed for Volkswagen based on their 100' x 112' Island Exhibit.

We kept the design true to the established brand characteristics of the famous automaker.

For more design project examples like this one, visit us at

Project Spotlight: Hitachi RSNA

This was a concept we developed for Hitachi based on their 80' x 120' Island Exhibit. 

For more design project examples like this one, visit us at

Project Spotlight: GSK

Our team developed this concept for HGS based on their 40' x 40' Island Exhibit. Material use and the application of eye catching color create a truly unique and unforgettable environment. 

For more design project examples like this one, visit us at

Blizzard of 2011

"Snowmaggedon", "Snowgasm", "Snowpocalypse", "Snow-MG! (snow-my-god)," and our local favorite "Snowprah Winfrey." These are just a few of the nicknames flying around the Chicago area as the Blizzard of 2011 blanketed the region with powdery rage. Historically ranked as the 3rd worst storm in Chicago, it got a little too windy and snowy for the Windy City as it all came to stand still earlier this month with 23” of drifting snow at the Core Design Studio.

Project Spotlight: Cybex IHRSA

This 40' x 40' island exhibit design was created for Cybex. Our design team was faced with a challenge of designing a booth to match the "cool" of the products we would be showcasing.

For more design project examples like this one, visit us at

Project Spotlight: Take Two

We are always looking for new and exciting ways to evolve our rendering solutions. Using our new Luxology rendering engine, check out these stunning renderings we are able to achieve on a recent projects.

For more design project examples like these, visit us at

Lacoste Showroom - Entrance

Lacoste Showroom - Interior

Lacoste Showroom - Shoe Display

KIA Autoshow Booth - Main Corner

KIA Autoshow Booth - Vehicle Platform

KIA Auto Show Booth - Birds Eye View

Corporate Interior

 Corporate Interior 

Corporate Interior

VW Auto Show Booth

VW Auto Show Booth - Back Side

VW Auto Show Booth - Back Corner

How Do You Design on a Budget?

Have you ever tried shooting a free-throw at the amusement park? The rims are usually smaller in diameter, and a little lower. (I know because I used to work at one). Though your senses tell you it’s the same distance, the fact is it’s enough of a difference that you fight the muscle memory of the free-throw line…and usually miss every time. If you’re good, you make adjustments and get a few in to win the big stuffed animal.

The process of designing to a budget is very similar: it’s a process of feedback. While experience does play a major role in understanding what can be accomplished within a budget, the ability of the designer to meet a budget requires feedback from everyone involved in the proposal.

The fact is a designer does not work the way an estimator does. Seems like common sense, but ultimately a custom designer cannot efficiently track the total cost of a design (while under deadlines that barely allow them time for bathroom breaks) like an estimator does on a spreadsheet. As we are designing we are making “big-picture” aesthetic, functional and experiential decisions as a whole that are not connected to individual components that can be itemized in a spreadsheet.

Should you expect your designer to hit the budget every time?

That’s up to you. But consider this: if your designer was taught to meet the budget the first time or they are going to get yelled at, guess what happens? Naturally, self preservation kicks in and they will pull back creatively long before they get even close to the budget. The result is they are either going to recycle designs already estimated or they are going to turn out “safe” designs that are familiar and they were able to “estimate” as they assemble the design...either way the design is going to be tired and uninspiring.

What is the designer’s responsibility?

There job is to be creative, and solve the clients problems within the time frames. However, your designer should be within a reasonable range of the budget or have clear cost-saving ideas to simplify the design to meet the budget. Depending on the project, we will try and provide a “Gold” and “Silver” version of the same concept. The objective is for the “Gold” version to provide a few future investment suggestions or “upgrade” opportunities, while the “Silver” version meets the client budget. If you are using an outside or freelance designer, making reasonable budgetary revisions should be included so you can present an accurate concept within budget.

What can you do to help your designer meet the budget?

A visual aid does wonders. When working with new clients, we ask for a visual reference of designs our clients have built within that price range. This helps us visualize what you can do with the money, and gives us something to work from…or like a speedometer, it gives us some idea when they are over the limit.

In addition, offer aesthetic and budgetary feedback when reviewing roughs. Have an estimator take a look and make suggestions that will keep the project on track. Get this information to them with time to react and your solutions will be better for it. Before you say, “our estimator doesn’t have time” consider what the lack of feedback might cost.

So the design is over budget. Now what?

From a design stand-point, it is very rare that a design cannot be simplified to a point where it comes in on budget yet still maintains the essence of the original design. The fact is this “step” usually requires deleting elements or simplifying details. This is easy by comparison to a design that comes in on or under budget, but just isn’t doing it for the client. In this scenario, how do you “spice up” a design that missed the mark in the first place? Unless the answer is obvious, go back to the drawing board, because very rarely will material changes and some dimensional logos do the trick.

From a designer’s point of view, there is no simple way to hit the budget every time other than to say it is a process of trial and error. Until someone comes out with one of those “Easy Buttons” in the Staples commercials, we will need to collaborate and work it through…like the process it is.