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Design as Therapy

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With a core tenet of Daniel's approach to design being that good design "is like therapy," it should be no surprise that his intake and approach to his process resembles psychotherapy and the steps that a therapist would take with a patient. That is, simply, because Daniel understands the transformative power that thoughtful design has for people, and by utilizing these steps to form deep connections with his clients, he is able to create spaces that not only are beautiful but feel good and offer solutions to challenging spaces.

At Village West Design, we strive to accomplish each of the following principles with each client, from consultation to finished projects:


  1. A new client should not be viewed only from the lens of the space they want to work on. Rather, each client should be viewed as a whole person with a unique personality and lifestyle, and living in a particular context. Each client has personal goals for their home and for their lifestyles, and it is the designer's job to ask the right questions to make those goals apparent from the beginning of the process.

  2. A good relationship between the client and the designer is tantamount to success. We strive to have good rapport-building skills while also meeting the client where they are at in terms of design knowledge and vocabulary. Each client has their own base of understanding, and so we will always gauge how we approach clients to make sure that we can convey our ideas appropriately.

  3. The common myth is that designers can read the minds of their clients. However, clients lives and how they interact with their space is too complex to be able to understand without proper explanation, and sometimes extraction of the client's innermost thoughts. We make sure to spend ample time consulting with the client to fully understand their needs and desires for their space, while also giving room for change as well as expansion.

  4. As a designer entering into someone else's space, we MUST assess the readiness for change in each client. Clients might resist good suggestions, sabotage their progress, not cooperate, and so on. As a designer, we are attuned when a client is more open to change and will guide them toward it. We are alert when a client is not ripe for change, and are willing to make compromises with the client's specific items they demand within their design.

  5. As a designer, we offer solutions to challenges while also adopting what the client sees as the potential of the space. In a careful process of question and answer, we are able to understand what the client wants and how we can accomplish that within a budget. Sometimes this means just a fresh coat of paint, sometimes it means tearing down walls and re-examining the physical layout of a space. We are willing and able to go as far or as short as a client is willing to make the best outcome.

  6. Keep it simple. Much of design is putting together style and function that reflect common sense and particular inspirations. That is, good design reflects how the client describes a positive way of living and then creating space for that lifestyle. When working with a client, we make sure to address specific inspiration and styles of design, whether through imagery or language, and then it is our job to decipher what about those styles on a micro-level are applicable to the space. By actively listening to each client, their wants, needs and dreams for their space, we are able to infuse those core ideas along with functionality into the spaces we create.

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