Technology In A Design Firm Part I


Michael Merrill Design StudioIt is my firm belief that digital technology plays a vital role in our industry today. Here are a few examples of how and why we have used technology in ways that were new to us.

MAY 1998 – Design Concepts

_MG_4309I was pondering how to best file and access images that I had torn out of design magazines. I could never find them, they were damaged when I eventually did find them, or worst of all, and they were so ugly I couldn’t imagine why I had selected the image in the first place.

The solution I devised was simple, but definitely time consuming. After I selected every image I wanted from that month’s periodicals, someone in my office would scan the images, crop them as needed, and then file them digitally. I assigned each image to one or more categories based on what I found instructive about the image. Currently we are using 35 categories. Now it is very easy to look up kitchens, staircases, fireplaces and so forth.

This is a terrific resource for a design firm as well as a great selling point to a new prospective client. We found that it was years into the process before our firm really started using the database. Now it is invaluable in communication with clients, contractors and one another. It is also a great source of inspiration available to everyone in our office.

SEPTEMBER 2007 – Digital Product Catalog

Four years ago we were commissioned to specify seven distinct plans for all of the furnishings for 400 homes in South Korea, totally 1,600,000 square feet overall. I couldn’t imagine how we could select, let alone organize that many products. We began by taking all of our favorite catalogs and selecting the individual items that we thought might be suitable. Once we had compiled approximately 2,000 images, we then put them into manila folders marked in big letters “BEDS,” DINING TABLES,” “LOUNGE CHAIRS,” etc. The next step, the trans-formative step, was to scan each tear sheet and then prepare it for presentation by removing everything but the image itself. No text and no identification would remain. At the very last minute, I suggested that we keep the copies of the original of the original scanned tear sheets – their usefulness soon became apparent.

We had just been paid not only to produce comprehensive specifications for our clients, but also to create the beginnings of our very own digital catalog. There are so many reasons this works better than printed catalogs. I will suggest a few for you to consider. We all shop by product type, not by manufacturer. I am looking for a dining table – I am not just looking for ANYTHING by a certain manufacturer. Second, I no longer have a printed library in our office – I have something much more useful – my own edited selection of the products I would like to show and use. The savings in rent, the savings in time, and the accessibility to this information anywhere in the world are all powerful arguments in favor of this solution. Third, you no longer need to flip by endless items that you would never use each time you open a catalog.


Part II to follow next week!


One Reply to “Technology In A Design Firm Part I”

  1. Very good! I don’t know if I am going to the dinner or not, I am going to a luncheon for the Golden Lions. I remember the last luncheon I went to and the food. Fred Merrill

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