The misconception of the term ‘value engineering’ in interior design was discussed during a panel discussion during the 2017 designMENA Summit.
The panel included Tarek Ardakani, director of operations at Emkay Interiors; David Lessard, director of hospitality at Perkins+Will; David Daniels, director of architecture at SSH; Niel Van Der Veen, principal at RMJM; and Elizabeth Valkovics, head of business and project director at Kristina Zanic Consultants.
Ardakani said that in order to positively implement value engineering positively, designers and contractors need to work together.
“As fit out contractors we work with consultants in understanding the concept and understanding the scheme. When it comes to value engineering that helps,” he explained.
Commenting on the notion of value engineering, Valkovics said: “Personally for me the larger aspect [of value engineering] is the word ‘value’. People aren’t talking enough about it. From a hospitality point of view it’s the value put on the end user, it’s the experience – lets focus on that .
“There’s too focus on it being about the bottomline rather than what are we viewing here. There is not enough chat about what is the value experience for the end user,” she added, explaining that conversation about budget between client and designer should take place from the beginning in order to enable creativity within a specific price frame.
Van Der Veen agreed: “Designing to budget is value engineering. Cost cutting that people call value engineering has nothing to do with design whatsoever. I think the most important part to consider here is the idea of creativity.
“Designing to budget is not about losing creativity. And I think that is something that the industry in the Gulf region really needs to work on. In South Africa where I come from, or Spain or Portugal or other places, budgets are really small. When we talk about tight budgets here, no, we do not have tight budgets in the Gulf! We are just not used to client budgets.
“There is a series of things that come into play while creating a design. Budget is just one part of it. Actually the harder the budget, the more creative you are forced to be. And the more value you add to the design,” he explained.
The designers also discussed the difference between value engineering and cost cutting, highlighting that while the two notions are often passed as the same thing, they are in fact, not.
“Value engineering tends to happen at the end of the project, but it should start on day one,” said Daniels.
“Out here, it means that you basically want to replace it with something cheaper,” Lessard added, to which Daniels replied: “That is not value engineering. That is cost cutting.”