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Client Perception of Visual Presentation Methods Used by Designers to Communicate Design Intent

Author: Noelle C. Weaver
Date: August 2006
Program: Master of Science in Interior Architecture, Chatham University

In interior design/architecture practice, many professionals are distinguishing themselves from competitors by creating digital images that depict project concepts in a realistic manner. Yet, few have studied how digital images are perceived by potential clients. The purpose of this study was to examine clients' understanding of and preferences for digital and traditional or hand-generated presentations.

The study surveyed 30 participants of which 11 were male and 19 were female. Participants were tested in two categories; Plan Comprehension (Survey Section 1) and the Comparison of Traditional and Digital Presentations (Survey Section 2). Survey Section 1 of the questionnaire anonymously tested participants on their ability to comprehend interior drawings of an existing kitchen floor plan and the corresponding proposed kitchen floor plan with samples of proposed material finishes. Survey Section 2 of the questionnaire compared client perceptions of traditional and digital presentation formats using the same proposed space concept for the analysis (only changing the presentation media format). This section asked participants to identify their preferred method of visual presentation and the effectiveness of each presentation method.

Results indicated that participants had little difficulty understanding the proposed kitchen in Survey Section 1. Results from Survey Section 2 indicated that the digital presentation was favored by the majority of participants primarily because of the digitally animated visual tour. In contrast, the rendered elevation was noted as the least helpful presentation image. Although the digital presentation was selected as the best representation of the proposed kitchen and the most professionally executed presentation, the presentation itself did not dramatically affect the selection of the preferred professional designer associated with the creation of the digital presentation. An ANOVA analysis compared gender and age range in order to find any significance between grouped answers. No correlations were found. It is in the best interest of the design community to fully understand client assumptions and preconceptions regarding traditional presentation formats and the social impact of digital presentation technology. Interior design/architecture programs should consider technological changes that are impacting the current and future practice of interior design and appropriately reevaluate and restructure curriculum requirements.