The Design Process

It always amazes me when we receive a design challenge and how many steps it actually takes to provide the best solution regarding aesthetics, function & form, cost effective production and installation.

In this sped-up-super-fast-push-a-button-instant-response society we live in today, the concept of time to “think and consider” has shrunk substantially. It used to be we had more time to come up with the best design solutions. But with years of experience under our belt, and (in our case) a collaborative approach with our clients plus long term relationships with a group of amazing talented craftsmen, we have a wealth of creative paintbrushes to paint the best solution for our clients’ needs.

As an example, a few years ago a long term client came to us with just such a challenge. How to recognize donors with a cumulative donor wall that is a dedication to ‘Old Boys’, parents, friends, staff and faculty whose generosity have supported upgrades, program enhancements, and increased scholarships for deserving young men at Upper Canada College.

To make this request even more interesting, our client wanted an exterior donor wall. The first step was to define the challenge.  An exterior cumulative wall that has several levels of giving, to be exterior on a wall of an historic building over 100 years old. Most important, it has to be easily updatable, 2 or 3 times a year. A challenge indeed, the structure had to withstand the elements of 4 seasons in Ontario. After meetings with our client to define the need and gather research we came up with 3 concepts, including an exterior sundial (I really enjoyed the research on that one.)

The concept that won our clients’ approval was an exterior metal ivy tree art installation made out of copper ivy leaves and bronze branches beautifully hand crafted by an amazing artist, based on our approved design. This structure works beautifully with the existing real ivy that grows on the brick walls of UCC’s Boarding Facilities. After many hours of collaborative design modifications, shop drawings, working with our engineer partner for structural integrity and changes requested by our client, this wall stands as a testament to true collaborative design and build processes.

design process

Our client loved it, the unveiling went extremely well and the donors kept giving more to the boarding facility. For me, as a designer working from many different collaborative experiences, it was highly rewarding. A win-win as they say.

That Ivy Wall will still be there 20 or 30 years. It looks amazing with natural Ivy growing around it as well. And the heritage building was not altered at all in the construction phase. Integration with the environment is the best part of any great design process.

– Steve McVeigh