designer-maker of Fine Hand Crafted Contemporary & Traditional Furniture
Placing a commission will be an enjoyable experience for both parties, so long as the process is transparent. As the maker, the quality of cabinetwork and finish are the only criterion for accepting commissions. Design is usually a part of the project, but working to other designers' outlines or detailed drawings is also undertaken.
There is a good deal of trust involved in the commissioning process. The client has to trust the maker to produce what they want to the standard they expect, on time. The maker has to trust the client to be realistic about what they want, and to pay. Most of this trust is assured by what is set out before any work commences.
One of the thorniest matters is not necessarily design or materials, but the budget.; this may sound mercenary, but whilst a good working relationship can be created early in a project, and indeed lasting associations are often made, the first stage is to establish some rough idea of the budget. Why? Because it would be disappointing for you to see initial sketches of a cabinet that appears far less impressive than the sort of thing you had in mind, and potentially embarrassing to see a proposal that is clearly outside your budget. Even if you choose not to go ahead, I want you to feel confident to come back to discuss any future projects.
You may not know just where your budget falls, but often it is possible to show you pieces similar in type to the proposed commission, and simply mention that this one cost £2000, and that one was £5000, until there is some understanding of just how involved the project is likely to be.
Once initial contact has established that the project is likely to be successful, I would expect to discuss the design with you, preferably where the piece is to be sited. Often a client will have strong ideas on design, and in that case visual references are very useful, if you have existing pieces that you want to compliment, or cuttings from magazines, so much the better. You may have specific size requirements, and will most likely have a good idea of colours if not exact timbers. You may of course have far fewer fixed ideas and that is fine, I will bring references and samples with me.
The next stage is for me to produce a line drawing with notes on construction, materials and finish, and a price guide. This may be all that is required, but if the commission is particularly involved, then you should expect photo-real images, a dimensioned drawing, samples of timber and finish as well as fabrics and other materials and possibly a maquette; you may also have to suffer more than one meeting. When the design stage is particularly involved it is usual to agree a design fee.
The details of construction will have been outlined in the quotation, but one of the delights of designer-made furniture is the chance to tweak the design as things progress, and the many decisions that are made at the bench. You are most welcome to view the making process as the work reaches appropriate stages.
The commission will be delivered personally, at a time convenient to you, and I will advice about care and maintenance.
A fixed quotation will be supplied with the final design along with a delivery date, which can vary widely but is usually only protracted when the piece is particularly complicated. For existing clients I would only expect a deposit when material costs are high, and would expect to be paid on delivery. I expect new clients to pay a deposit which will usually represent the design costs plus materials, and is typically around 25%