The Design Process

The Design Process

The design process may seem daunting when commissioning a custom piece, as each artist has a unique creative process and business acumen, but don’t be discouraged. I offer my clients a simple process, guiding them through the design phase to ensure their vision is accurately captured in their custom pieces.

Step 1: The First Conversation

The intent of a first conversation is to get to know each other and ensure that I am the right craftsperson for your project. I will ask questions to ensure I understand your expectations and vision for the project.  We will talk about the timeline and figure out a budget together.  Throughout the design process, I will help guide the design to ensure it will stay on budget. If something comes up that will overshoot the budget, help you decide if you want to proceed in that direction or explore other alternatives.

Step 2: Getting The Design Started

Some of the questions I will ask during our first conversation, or you can answer them in the contact form when enquiring about a commission, are.

  • Stating the obvious, what do you want me to build for your, a bed, desk, table, etc
  • Type of materials you want to be incorporated into the design
    • Wood tones – light wood vs. darker-colored woods
    • metals
    • glass
  • Are there other pieces in the same room that this needs to coordinate with, such as a particular style, or wood tones
    • if you can include pictures of these items, that would be helpful
    • If you can send a picture of the room where the new piece is going, that would help me visualize where it is going and the style of the room’s decor
  • Do you have a theme you what me to follow, include, or pull inspiration from
  • If you are an interior designer, including a Mood Board or rendering is a great way for me to visualize how I would incorporate my design with your vision.
  • The general size of a piece,
    • how many people do you want to fit around a table?
    • King or queen-size bed
  • Anything else you think I would find helpful or want me to know about the project

Step 3: Paying The Design Deposit

Once we have decided that we are a good fit for one another, decided on a  budget, and have a general design direction for the project, I ask for a non-refundable deposit of 10% of the budget as a retainer to flush out the design.

Flushing out the design includes:

  • Based on our initial conversation, I will produce drawings of the design to help us visualize the design and verify that we have the general sizes correct.
  • Additional design meeting to discuss design revisions based on the initial drawings
    • it is normal to go through 2-3 revisions to be sure we have your design just right.
  • Stain and finish samples if needed.
  • The design deposit is credited to the project.

Step 4: Starting The Fabrication of Your Design

Once you have approved the design and are ready for me to build it for you:

  • I ask for a non-refundable 50% deposit
    • The deposit retains the next available start date on my schedule.
      • For small to mid-sized projects, I am currently running about Please allow 8-10 weeks for fabrication out
      • For larger projects, I am currently running about Please allow 12-14 weeks for fabrication out.
        • The above timelines are approximate, based on averages and the current workload. When you are ready to pay your deposit, I will provide more information about where you will fall on my schedule based on the needs of your project.
  • For most projects, the final payment will be due upon completion prior to shipping.
    • For large projects with multiple phases, I will bill progress payments based on the percentage completed.


Still on the fence?  If you want a handcrafted piece of furniture but don’t want to go through the design process, please check out my made-to-order selection of furniture or some of the pieces I have in stock ready to ship.


Examples Of My Design Process

Sometimes the hardest part is not knowing where to start, or you need to see an example to help get you going down the right path.  A good design has an element of inspiration and a story to be told.  Inspiration can come from anything, something in nature, an architectural detail, another piece of furniture or artwork, or even a combination thereof.

Please check out some of my case studies, where I discuss each project’s design process more in-depth.

Mountain Modern Front door design case study by industrial designer Brian BenhamDesigning The Mountain Modern Front Door

For this design, I was tasked to design the front door, seen on the right, to complement the decorative timber framing throughout the house.  As you can see from the final construction picture, the timber framing had some unique angles in its design that make a bold statement.

Read the full case study here.

I'm a Colorado based Bespoke Furniture maker specializing in the design and fabrication of custom furniture and architectural elements that resemble works of art, using materials such as wood, glass, stone, and metals. The furniture I produce serves not only as practical items but also as works of art, infusing character and style into any space.

Whether you’re seeking functional furniture or distinctive art pieces, I can collaborate with you to design and build the perfect addition for your home or office.