The Art of a Good Plan

I was recently with a colleague discussing a plan drawn by another designer that was beautifully drawn but we found it very different from our own and a little bit hard to follow. It was full of colour and texture and very lively but something was wrong. We started to ask ourselves, 'What makes a good plan'?

When asked about the role of an interior designer, often people assume that our job focuses on finishes and furniture alone. In fact, the first and most important job we do when we start a job is to survey and draw the existing plan. Once we have an idea of what the client's priorities are, we start to play around with the plan - removing walls, changing the layout, building new walls and windows, adding the furniture and deciding on what works best. In fact, we probably spend the first half of a project working only in 2D. We never start building works until the builder has seen and is comfortable that he understands the plans we draw and often we end up going back to the plan if there are problems on site!

In essence, the plan is the very backbone of the design and it's a vital communication tool to convey information to the Client, to Crafstmen and to builders. We are very lucky today to draw all of our plans on the computer, as opposed to by hand - who would have time for that?!

Everything in a design tends to be determined by the plan - actually, I should also point out Elevations, as these are equally important for certain rooms, such as the tiling in the bathrooms or the design of wall mouldings. Plans and elevations make it so that every detail of the construction and the layout stages can be predetermined before works start. Without plans, projects would lag on as every time the builder spots a problem, the designer would have to go on site and problem-solve. Plans allow us to problem-solve before problems even arise. The more sophisticated your plan drawings are, the more problems you will spot early on and be able to resolve without stress.

Now, onto the Art of a Good Plan. This is kind of an unusual question to answer because, as I pointed out earlier, most designers tend to draw in a different style to each other, using various computer programs that may or may not be compatible with each other, using different colours and different textures. Although there are a number of drawing rules that designers follow, as they are industry standard, there are a lot of 'details' that vary from designer to designer.

Our recommendation on drawing a good plan is to keep it technical but simple and add in as much detail in terms of furniture and fittings as possible, but stay away from too much colour or texture. If you want to show the colour of furniture and fittings, or the wall colour etc, it's much better to deliver this information on a mood board or a 3D visual. Since the plan's role is to deliver information to an array of different professions, it's much better to keep this simple and clear.

Now, our point of view on plans is that there are two types of plans. There is the plan that you show to your Client, and there is the plan that you send on site. If you ask us what the difference is between the two, I would tell you that in our case, most of the time, nothing. However, there are some Clients who don't read plans in as architectural a way as designers do and who appreciate seeing a more 'friendly' plan. In these cases, we tend to add a bit of depth by using a little bit of colour or texture, but never enough to overwhelm the plan.

Here you can see the variety of plans and elevations that we produce. As you can see, we try to keep it simple and clear! :)