We’ve all seen them in the newspaper, on websites and in glossy magazines: Beautiful renderings and images of building lobbies, amenities or stunning model suites for new condo towers to be built.
Few of us, however, understand the detailed process and work that goes into making this a reality. Dominic De Freitas, principal of the award-winning design firm FIGURE3, filled me in on the elements of inspired design.
Achieving designs that stand the test of time, and exceed customer expectations, is more about a robust process and experience than individual moments of vision. Designers work as part of a cohesive and integrated team with other consultants and architects to deliver a unified product.
The process starts with extensive research that includes a close look at the neighbourhood, the target market and demographics. The overall objective is to support how residents live — not to force a particular design esthetic but rather a design direction.
The next phase is to translate the design direction into options that can then be presented to a builder and/or developer. This phase is about developing big design ideas and concepts that will then help to steer the project in an effort to further refine the ideas.
The final phase of the creative process is ideation, where the results of the previous phases are brought to life in a project’s master plans. In this phase, designs are fully developed for all areas of the development, ensuring the master concept flows throughout all of the spaces in the building — such as in the lobby and other common-use areas, building corridors, across amenities, and in particular, in the suites and the spaces within the suites; the kitchens and bathrooms, for instance. Extending the cohesive design into the residential character and feel of public spaces makes them feel like the residents’ own spaces.
What are some of the current trends in the process that goes into creating the look and feel of a new condominium building?
Technology has become increasingly important in residential design — especially the ways it integrates into our home lives.
The increased desire for an enhanced lifestyle has led to an increase in services and amenities being incorporated in building concepts and designs. Whether this means including social clubs or programs that offer services like a boutique hotel, these types of features are being incorporated into new buildings that can enhance luxury, convenience and provide a resort-like feel.
Another trend influencing condo design is a desire for more compatible living to accommodate how people shop, commute, live and work. Purposeful lobbies, designed with room for waiting Uber customers, parcel deliveries and social/work spaces, is an example of how design meets this need.
Good design is not something that just happens. Great plans only work with a cohesive vision and commitment to excellence.