8 December 2017

Creating the Perfect Home Design Brief…



At ABA, we take the briefing process very seriously.

It’s an informal, but very important chance to get to know our client and their family as individuals.

Are they avid gardeners, or do they have a bookworm in the family?

Do they come from a seasonal place where the change of natural light through the day is important to them?



The briefing process for us, extends far beyond the initial meetings and runs throughout the Concept Design Stages so that as we test ideas we can tease all of the little gems of detail that we can out of the process.

We are committed to keeping our own design preferences out of the briefing process, making way for our client’s story unfold and inform their future design, rather than coming at the process with a prescribed in-house style or a recognisable aesthetic that speaks more about us than about them.

For this reason, we recently attended the Discover Your Design Bias, a half-day workshop facilitated by Surroundings in their leafy Woolloongabba studio.

Surroundings is a specialist consultancy that works with architects and homeowners to nail the briefing stage, ensuring buildings are designed for those who will inhabit them.



As a team, we went along to uncover and explore our own unconscious design biases.

Because, in learning about our own biases, we’d be much better equipped at seeing our ‘signature styles’ as they emerge, and to have clarity about where decisions and influencers are coming from within our design process.

Led by Surroundings founders Suzie Wiley and Laura Pascoe – we completed a series of dynamic exercises rooted in human-centred design, and some interesting things emerged:

“I got a lot out of the flashback exercise,” said our Director Alexandra Buchanan. “I had no idea how much emotion was attached to my Grandmother’s house! I was also really interested to discover how often ‘time’ seems to have an influence on me.”



Cultural influences came to light as well where Ali came to realise how important it was for her to have a sense of elevation in her home and to be able to have some form of an ‘edge or ledge’ to be able to survey her connection to outside, perhaps a reflection of the Australian veranda. Ami on the other hand craves a sense of intimacy and enclosure and a delineation between public and private from her Japanese roots.

It was an enlightening experience for us, and one that’s helping us to continue placing our clients at the heart of their home design.

Recently we returned to the Surroundings studio for a collaborative workshop with the clients of our Merthyr Village project.

Throughout this workshop, our clients relayed many stories, memories and lovely details of their lives that inform who they are as individuals, from very diverse backgrounds and how they wish to live today in their future spaces.

Working through the concept stage of their home with them now, we are able to knit together key individual themes to be reflected into a highly tailored and deeply personal home design for their growing family.

This process helps the client to understand and articulate their preferences, wants and nice to haves and to work through any necessary compromises that may need to be made between family members. It also gives us as architects a mutual language to ensure that design elements are understood and clearly legible.

Thank you to the talented Surroundings team for facilitating these worthwhile workshops, and helping us to put our clients first.