Bridgewater Stories


Designing for Fabrication

Any great project starts with your design. Our task is to take your design and bring it to life. There are, of course, limitations to time and budget. Bridgewater’s concierge approach to design fabrication will help you navigate the complexities of timing, budget, material selection, and fabrication methods that are best suited to your unique activation. Our depth of experience in multiple disciplines gives us an advantage when it comes to choosing the appropriate methods and materials to meet your budget and time constraints.

Any great project starts with your design. Our task is to take your design and bring it to life. There are, of course, limitations to time and budget. Bridgewater’s concierge approach to design fabrication will help you navigate the complexities of timing, budget, material selection, and fabrication methods that are best suited to your unique activation. Our depth of experience in multiple disciplines gives us an advantage when it comes to choosing the appropriate methods and materials to meet your budget and time constraints.

When it comes to design execution, the main limitations that have significant impact on a project are time and budget. Clients have increasingly shorter turnaround times for fabricated pieces and brand activations. What we used to have six weeks to draw, build, paint, ship and install now needs to be done in three. Budgets are always what drives a client’s build. In a perfect world everyone would have all the money they need to do whatever they can conceive. We don’t live in that world, and neither do our clients. We understand. Our job is to figure out how to get the most impactful design that fits into your budget and our fabrication timeline. There will have to be compromise, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for something you aren’t completely happy with. We start all projects with a thorough cost analysis, and a detailed quote. We like to present a client with the complete cost of a job at the beginning of the conversation. No one likes to get hit with a bunch of change orders because we didn’t include an element in our scope.

Budget

Our first pass at a budget for a project is our best attempt to capture all the elements in the design, what materials will be used, and how long it will take to engineer and fabricate those components. This budget is done in a “frictionless vacuum” and typically doesn’t include any value engineering. When a client pushes back citing budgetary restrictions, that is where our experience as designers and fabricators is leveraged. We can help you make alternate material and fabrication choices to drive down cost. It’s a balance though. Often a cheaper material will require more finishing, which adds time, and negates the material cost savings. Changing a fully-sculpted 3D element to a more 2D with dimension approach can help reduce costs. The amount of time a piece is on display will also have an impact. Something that only needs to last for a week vs a piece that has to tour or is installed at a museum will help get costs lowered as well. The first step in designing for a budget is open conversation. The more we know, the more accurate we can be.

“I always tell clients that I hate to guess. When someone asks me to ‘ballpark’ a cost I usually push back. When I have to guess, I tend to guess high.” -Eric Cup, Managing Partner                                                                                

Scale

The scale of a design is primarily client driven. A brand activation wants to be at the confluence of impact, market reach, brand identity, and budget consciousness. That’s a tricky target to hit. Whereas, wayfinding for a corporate office needs to convey very specific information to an unfamiliar person. We can help navigate both of those roads to focus the scale of the design and fabrication to meet your specific needs.

Time

Time is our number one enemy. More time can not be bought or created. Sure, we can work longer days, and weekends, and add more staff, but at some point, we are going to run out of time. With the wide range of in-house capabilities under one roof at Bridgewater we can significantly reduce lead times that would have killed projects in the past.

“I can draw a steel part in the office, go out to the floor and cut it with the laser, form it on the CNC press break, weld it, polish it, and powder coat it before lunch. All in-house. What used to take three weeks and four vendors now takes hours.” -Patrick Justice, Partner

We can adjust the design to fit within the fabrication capabilities we have to help adjust for speed when deadlines are tight. When we have longer lead times, we can source materials from sources that typically take longer to get but are less expensive. Ordering LED lights directly from the manufacturer in China can greatly reduce costs, but it takes longer.

Feasibility

Sometimes a design is presented that just isn’t feasible. Be it budget, scope, production timeline, shipping limitations, venue logistics, or a combination of those factors. Given an unlimited budget and timeline, we can do anything. We never get either of those. It always goes back to the “good, fast, and cheap” model. You only get to pick two of those. If it’s good and fast, it won’t be cheap. If it’s good and cheap, it won’t be fast, etc. We take great pride in being able to build anything. We are also very aware of our clients' needs and do our best to design something that is feasible with their given budget, timeline, and brand needs. Designing something over the top that a client can’t afford is not effort well spent for us or the client. Once we have a better grasp of the limitations surrounding a design, we can value engineer your project so you get everything you want out of it.

Environment Fabrication Ideas, Delivered.