Commissioning any piece of specialist work can be a daunting task particularly as you are likely to have to commit to some expenditure before you actually see the finished piece. If you are intending to obtain the greatest benefit from your patronage, there are a number of fundamental points to consider.
You cannot short-circuit the design process if you truly want something that meets your needs and desires. It will depend on you how long that process takes and how much it costs.
Before you start talking to a designer it is sensible to prepare a written brief of what you think you need. Try to be as precise as possible, set out what you are trying to achieve and why. Consider size, function, flexibility, materials and aesthetics.
Having prepared your initial brief, interrogate it vigorously. Why are you doing this? Have you really defined what it is you are trying to achieve? Are you trying to make a statement or a practical addition? Look carefully at the space against your actual needs, rather than your perceived needs.
If you do not feel confident in pursuing this process yourself the designer will be able to guide you through it but of course this will add to cost.
The success of your project will be determined by the quality of the designer, so it is important to spend as much time as possible deciding on who is right for your project.
If you employ a professional take their advice, they do this for a living and don’t come with any historical baggage, they will help you define the specification and arrive at the best solution. Importantly they have their reputation to protect and new work comes from promoting current activities, so references are vital.
Having chosen your designer, it is good practise before any major work is undertaken to set out a budget. You might already have one in mind and it would be wise to share it at this point. Most designers should be able to set out a simple schedule identifying tasks and probable costs along with alternatives and options. If your budget does not meet your aspirations it might be prudent to (speak with your designer about viable options)
Sometimes being formal at an early stage can appear unfriendly and no one wants to ruin the feeling of goodwill with which all new projects begin. You might very well get through to the end and have a successful project without any formal paperwork, but a simple document setting out the brief and the responsibilities of both parties is a wise precaution to keep things on track.
Assume that there will be some challenges along the way and allow a contingency for both budget and programme. Fundamentally though this should be a pleasurable experience; you are part of a creative process that will allow you to own something entirely individual, designed and crafted just for you and in the process help to maintain the rich tradition of furniture design and craftsmanship.