Ask the designer

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Hospitality design projects often carry with them pressing timescales for both the design teams involved and their clients. Coordinating a project that runs smoothly, without unforeseen setbacks, often hinges on a number of things going exactly as planned. Since that scenario remains something of a unicorn, it takes a mixture of successful collaboration and careful planning to execute a project on time. Continuing from our last edition, we asked a designer and an operator to respond to each other’s question on the subject, to find out what both sides believe is important to keep in mind.

“How do you work with operators to ensure a design project runs smoothly?”

We engage with operators as early as possible in the design process to ensure their needs are met. Through regular communication, workshops, presentations and information reviews, we take them on a journey to ensure a project runs smoothly. We ask questions throughout the design process to prompt operators to consider all requirements from the start of a project, so we can provide something that is beautiful and, most importantly, operational by the end.

The briefing is the most important part of any project. We take the time to fully understand our operator and their objectives to develop a response that is inspired by their brand. We replay our research to our operators to demonstrate that we share their vision and to illustrate the design direction we recommend. Gaining sign off at the briefing stage is crucial to the success of any project.
Although budget is always important, early on we are usually thinking about the story we want to create. There are many ways to deliver a concept but managing operator’s expectations is key.


At concept stage, our proposals need to align with the operator’s requirements. Taking the lead from our ‘briefing bible’, we present our concept to the operator through a series of workshops and visually walk them through each space via sketches, CGIs and supporting physical samples. Overall, we find these workshops very successful, with attendees ranging from owners and general managers to maintenance staff and chefs.

At this stage, we update our information to incorporate any operator requirements from our concept workshops. Before we submit for costing, another series of workshops will take place with our operator (usually focused with particular individuals) to ensure we have captured everything.

Our technical department is fully engaged. They will already have an understanding of the design intent and be closely involved throughout the project. At the technical design stage, we run through the coordinated information from all disciplines, including designer, specialist joiner and M&E, to ensure the operator’s needs are met. This can be anything from ensuring kettles fit in credenzas to which lights come on when a guest enters the rooms.

During the construction stage, it is important to respond quickly to any queries. Whether new build or refurb, adaptability to unforeseen site conditions is crucial.
At handover, we walk the course with individuals to ensure they know how the design should be and answer any questions. And our operator relationship doesn’t end there. We are always available to answer any questions when they are up and running.

Katie Edgar: Associate Designer, SpaceInvader Design