Decoding the Key Phases of an Interior Design Project

If there’s one subject that’s often unclear to many new clients, it’s this: How does an interior architecture and design project actually unfold? Where does the interior architect’s responsibility end and where does the responsibility begin for the various companies working onsite to actually make the project a reality? What are the creative development phases?

It all starts with a sketch. Often a mood board, in fact, that lets you quickly identify the things you like and the things you don’t. It’s a simple tool, but one that quickly puts the project on the proper esthetic track in keeping with the client’s desires. At this stage, you could add some inspired drawings, some fairly general material mood boards that give a broad idea of the ambiance, with things like a fabric swatch, a molding, and a section of wood paneling.

The key to this phase is to understand the client's vision and wishes, to get a clear idea of their expectations, so you can subsequently move forward with peace of mind to execute their project.

Once this first step has been approved, the moment comes for the Avant-Projet Sommaire (APS - preliminary design studies). The APS can be carried out in parallel with a feasibility study when the project requires it; it makes it possible to define the general site plan, the traffic patterns, the distribution of spaces. The partitions to be removed and those to be created – in short, the entire interior architecture of the premises must be created so as to be able to move forward with a set plan.

A general artistic concept is also proposed for each room at this point, with dedicated material boards and samples. Sketches are done by hand now and 3D models can be created for the major parts of the project, if the client so desires.

After this phase comes the Avant-Projet Définitif (APD - final design studies). All the rooms are esthetically finalized, materials for the floor and wall coverings are suggested, the partitions are finalized, elevations and blueprints of each room are drawn up in order to move towards the work phase with a clearly defined concept. This is also when an initial selection of furniture, lighting, and window dressings is presented.

Next comes the Projet de Conception Générale (PCG – overall project design), alongside planning permission requests if necessary. The PCG incorporates all the blueprints and/or scale drawings, material specifications, electricity and plumbing network plans and all other technical elements of the dossier so that the contracted companies can quantify their material needs for their lot(s).

It is in this phase that Rinck provides all information relative to decorative choices. These are presented in the form of photo catalogs or samples with all the options for taps, tiles, lighting, hardware, floor coverings, walls, ceilings, models and finishes of electro-technical terminals and outlets, etc.

Once this crucial step has been completed, the project moves on to the Dossier de Consultation des Entreprises phase (DCE – the tender dossier). This is the call for tenders allowing the various lots to be assigned to specialized enterprises. These companies work on separated lots or under the direction of a general contractor. At this stage, the Rinck teams keep a watchful eye on the progress of operations, including advising the client or their representatives on the companies that might be chosen. At the same time, a final “book” displaying the furniture and remaining décor elements – window dressings, rugs and/or carpeting, lighting, etc. – is completed so that the articles can be ordered.

Now, at last, comes the work phase. The interior architect is responsible for monitoring the site that is overseen by the general contractor: Our teams go to the site weekly to physically observe the project’s progress and ensure everything is running smoothly.

Finally, we reach the end of the work phase and move to delivery. The interior architect ensures that all requirements are met, assisting the client in accepting or declining the various works carried out by the companies. All that remains to be done is hang the curtains, position the furniture, and hand the keys to the client. For some projects, however, there may be an additional phase involving choosing works of art or sometimes a comprehensive selection of tableware, linens, and anything else that may be requested by the client for a successful installation.

A tailor-made project for each location and each client.

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