A first-timers guide to interior design: Finding your ‘why’

Many of the clients that we work with at San Diego Office Design are what I refer to as ‘first-timers’.  They know that they need help handling the thousands of decision points and details that accompany moving, expanding, contracting or otherwise shifting their workspace, but they really don’t know where to start in the process of selecting the right company to fit their unique needs.

Some start with a Google, Bing or Yelp search, looking for interior design resources in their area that seem to have a good track record and that offer services that they assume they may need.  Others ask friends & family for recommendations and referrals, leaning on the experience (good or bad) of their social network. Many times folks rely on other service providers, like their commercial real estate broker or leasing agent for a recommendation.

I would estimate 90% of potential clients that call me for more information about San Diego Office Design’s services ask questions about WHAT we do and WHAT we offer, and sometimes they even ask questions about HOW we perform some of tasks needed, but the thing most people forget to focus on is WHY we do what we do, and how that makes us uniquely qualified to partner with them on this journey (and it truly is a partnership & journey, my friends)

So, for this article I am going to focus first on the ‘Why‘ because the other items (the what and the how) are just commodities that can be had from any number of firms or designers.

getting to the WHY

‘The WHY’ is the at the heart of what I believe you should be considering when investing your time, hard-earned money, your company brand, and your corporate culture when making a company move or shift to a new or refurbished space.  Finding the right firm plus the right people within the firm who really get the overall mission, vision and values is the first step.

Next you need a design team that will invest the time to listen deeply and intently to your story. Then having the skills and design discovery experience to really dig deep into what makes your own company unique (some call this your USP or unique selling proposition) is vitally important.

Here’s a key factor to consider when getting to your own WHY? Do you have an understanding of what it is that inspires your clients, employees or investors loyal to your brand and to your products?. What keeps them coming back time & again? What would they rave about to their family & friends? What would make them stand in line for hours (like the raving fans of Apple’s latest I-phone release?)

If you are reading this and starting to feel that uncomfortable pang of guilt associated with not really knowing what your WHY is, don’t sweat it.  Getting to the heart of the WHY is part of what makes us such wonderful interior designers here at San Diego Office Design, as well as what makes us a fantastic partner for your project.  We will be your guides in the journey of discovering what your WHY really is.

That, my friends, is what makes us truly unique.  You see, we don’t just offer options that we are familiar with, or that we get a good deal on, or that we can develop quickly…we offer the solutions for your project that truly speak to your unique WHY.

And how do we do this? You may be asking…just 6 simple steps:

Step 1: Design Discovery  The people  and processes that occupy the building inspire it’s function, flow and form. It’s our job to learn the form & function of your existing space and how to improve upon it.   Your Design team leader will facilitate small group, and one-on-one interviews to get just the right information to help inform our process. Then we create a report that is easy to understand for your executive team (or you) We have worked years in developing our proprietary systems to help facilitate this process, and have the track-record to prove it.

Step 2: Designing for each jobs function & style Years ago, designers created an easy open plan ‘one-size fits all’ approach to design.  We avoid this hazardous pitfall by helping clients to develop work areas that fit the unique needs of each department (It’s their own individual ‘why’). To us, it’s just plain common sense to realize that engineers probably don’t work the same way the marketing folks do and that’s true for each type of job.  We respect your process and help to plan for growth and creativity.

Step 3: Learning your culture & brand (or helping you to create one) Creating and maintaining positive impressions for customers, clients,  job applicants, investors, and even the UPS delivery driver is important to us.  We want to position your company in a memorable, creative, thought-provoking ways that align with your value & vision.

Step 4: We are your constant advocate for smart and cost-effective decisions: We love what we do, and we honor the trust that our clients instill in us when given a budget and timeframe for completion.  We can’t control all of the variables, but we keep you informed and in the drivers seat every step of the way.

Step 5: Keeping you informed  Our weekly updates keep you informed and in touch with the latest progress we are making on your project.  When there’s questions about decision points, we bring you right back to the ‘WHY’ so we all remain focused and happy.

Step 6: After your project is complete, we make sure things are working well, and fix the things that aren’t. No project is perfect, but we strive for great…and we put our hearts into each and every project, no matter the size of budget.  We want to create a raving fan out of you!


Reference: Want to know more about finding your why?  I suggest you read the book “Start with Why” from Simon Sinek.  He also has a fantastic TEDx talk on the subject that you can find on Youtube.



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