Probably 99% of our society thinks that interior designers MUST know how to hand draw and that every design idea is first developed in a sketchbook. Well, maybe 20 years ago this is how it looked like, but nowadays the toolbox of an interior designer doesn´t contain a ruler, a pencil and a drawing board.
In the digital world we live in, the equipment of interior designers has adapted to the pace and needs of our society. Of course, quick hand sketching and plans printed on paper are still present, but they only serve for rough idea development while we´re on site and we don´t have access to our precious computer (horrible feeling!).
The idea of this article is not to point out disadvantages of hand drawing nor to consider sketching as old fashioned! It is more about stressing out how much the times have changed and how interior design sector has adapted to today´s client´s needs.
So today we are sharing the most useful interior design tools that all interior designers use nowadays in order to develop and complete their projects. It is also a guide for all the future interior designers or simply people with a passion for interior design to know how it all works today and which tools are worth learning and investing your time.
The drawing board, the pencil and the ruler of today. AutoCad is not only used by interior designers but also by architects, industrial designers and engineers which makes this tool the most important of all, because it allows you to share your files with other specialist in the design industry. AutoCad is basically a computer software where the designers draw all the plans, sections and elevations of the space they design. It replaced scale rulers and handmade 2D technical drawing at least 10x faster. Although basic AutoCad skills can EASILY be mastered within a month, the software has an enormous amount of more advanced tools. They were designed to make your work even faster, more detailed and more professional, however to get comfortable with those you will need a bit more time. Like with anything in life, the more you practice the better you get at it. What I love the most about AutoCad is that applying changes to your furniture layout is so easy and it allows you to clearly see the difference between all the layout options. Imagine how many hours you would need to make one hand drawn layout and then trace it and apply all the changes by hand … Oh Lord I love AutoCad!
The easiest way to present an interior design project is by making a moodboard. And one of the best interior design tools for making moodboards is Photoshop. Again, the moodboards of today are all digital, simply because it´s so much easier to show it to a client. It´s neat, easy to understand and visually appealing. A moodboard done in Photoshop replaced cutting pieces of fabric and gluing them to a piece of paper. However, it is still very important for an interior designer to touch actual fabrics, to feel the texture and to see the true colour of materials, yet for some clients it is not necessary (especially if their house is furnished for sale) and in that case a digital moodboard is simply more convenient. Working in Photoshop allows you to edit the images of proposed furniture, to align the pictures with the text and to present it all with your company´s branding elements: your logo, colours, fonts etc. For some designers PowerPoint is a good substitute but personally I prefer to use Photoshop since you can go deeper into the image editing whenever you need to.
A treasure house of design inspiration. Pinterest is used as a digital interior design tool to find first design ideas not only for interior space and furniture but also for presentation layout, colour schemes and many more. Pinterest is not so much of a social media platform but more of a search engine. It works like Google, but it´s much more visual. The best thing of this platform is that all the images posted by people on Pinterest are truly beautiful which makes it a perfect material for making your moodboards. Pinterest is always a great start to any interior design project and a useful tool when you get stuck in the concept development part. You can easily save the images you like on Pinterest boards, separate them into categories and come back to them whenever you feel like in the future. So if you still don´t have a Pinterest account, I suggest you go to www.pinterest.com and create yours now.
Probably the most boring yet the most important of all interior design tools. If you like it or not, you MUST know how much the project is costing you and your company. Sure, there are parts of interior design process which you can delegate to other people, but I believe every interior designer should have an idea about the costs of what they sell to clients. It´s not only to list the prices of furniture, but to calculate the transport and installation costs as well as the time spent by you and your team on delivering the project. Even when you´re not a professional interior designer and you do a project of your own home, it is still very useful to know your spending or to calculate your budget before starting the refurbishment. You will find Microsoft Excel in your basic Microsoft Package.
3D STUDIO MAX
This is where the magic happens. There are many interior design tools for 3D visuals but I have been introduced to this one and I don´t plan to change this 3D tool for anything else. I was lucky enough to be taught 3DsMax by two of the best 3D graphic designers at Costa del Sol – and I´m even more lucky now to be able to work with both of them on most of my design projects. It´s not an easy tool to learn – you need a lot of time, patience and practice before you start to see your 3D renders looking the way you want them to look. There are easier 3D design tools on the market, for example Google SketchUp is one of them, but personally I have never seen results as good, as realistic and as impressive as the ones done in 3DsMax. Not many interior designers are specialists in 3D renders, it is mostly a job that you outsource. I can proudly say my 3Ds are on the OK level (which means it´s acceptable to present them to a client) but with all the other work involved in an interior design process it´s best to get some help in the 3D design part since it´s the easiest job to delegate to others. You can see the examples of our 3D visuals here.
Although a complete design project requires all of the above tools, every interior designer has their favourite part of the design process which they treasure the most. For some it is gathering ideas and developing concepts, for others organizing the deliveries and supervising the installation process. For me, it´s the space planning. I got very friendly with AutoCad more than 10 years ago and since then there is not a single week I spent without using this software. But what we have to remember is that the times change, the way we work change and the market´s needs change as well. As much as we love a specific way of working, we always need to stay open minded and take into consideration that someday our toolbox will need an update. Like in every profession, we all have to continue learning and discovering new ways of doing what we do.