In managing messages we can easily forget to tell the story.

Honing your story, designing for people

The first designer I worked with downloaded the design from his mind to mine. We sat in the studio at desks littered with sandwich packets, with a balsa model of a past project on a tilt atop the paperwork. I translated his vision into words. Together we refined the narrative and next morning it was ready for the presentation boards. It had to be — it was the deadline. A couple of weeks later we heard ours was the winner.

We’ve worked on many projects since, mostly via phone or by email, with one of us, mostly me, working into the night.

Your story draws people to your vision.

My complete focus is on ensuring a proposal, narrative or content is clear and interesting, and reflects your personality and purpose. I bring to this work principles and standards  instilled in me as a journalist and editor at the world’s best quality papers including the Financial Times. 

Success in storytelling about design (or any topic) falls to the designer and relies on openness. What is the expected profit for the investor? How will it affect the user?

In managing messages we can easily forget to tell the story.

A story puts people in the picture. Jargon alienates. Show someone a rendering of a large building and they are likely to pull a face and liken it to a part of the anatomy. But sketch a possible life and they will imagine awakening there.

There’s an appetite for stories of design yet many designers receive little or no press. You rush on to the next project rarely pausing to bring people with you. Yet people are fascinated about how you think and want to see how cities and places could be. We want live to be smoother.

What stops a designer from sharing a story? Is it nerves that your vision is too out there, or not out there enough? Are you unsure of how to reach people? Or, is your relationship with the semantics of design uneasy?

Many designers aren’t completely fluent in writing the language of design. Some would rather walk across hot stones.

The KISS rule of design writing

There is an old rule of writing called KISS, no not a smooch, it’s keep it simple stupid. There is another device, an editor. The guiding principle  is to tell a simple story.

Are you being self-indulgent or striving to impress?

Don’t! Just choose the right word.

The best architectural writing uses words as building materials. It ensures two things: that the house stands up and shows its character.

You can remain true to your technical ambitions but remember while engineering ingenuity impresses, other forces move people. Will this project be profitable? Does this house feel like home? Could  I work here?
The best stories come from the source.

Narratives adapted for the press.

Working with architects and designers, I make texts and narratives ready for clients and that can be carried over to PR & marketing.

Recently, I  collaborated with a designer on a project that had already sparked big excitement. It unites sensory and spatial experiences of an emerging urban lifestyle, and all from a small green footprint. In the process, we encountered a new name for the project and an image in people’s minds of a possible life. We had fun taking it as far as we could. What’s the point to do otherwise? We don’t want to make the same thing that has been made before. Not unless it’s a fine dinner.

On the way, we encountered a new name for the project and a possible life. We had fun taking it as far as we could. What’s the point to do anything less? We want to make a place like none before.

Marian Edmunds, writer, writer for architects, journalist, writing coach @  The Writing Business. Telling your story online, in feature article, a narrative, a white paper, books or through winning proposals.