Sketch It vs. SketchUp

Sitting down to collaborate on a new custom office furniture project, the Tangram Studio designers grab their tracing paper and Sharpie pens to begin in their design process…

The discussion begins with the question, “Who is the client and what do they do?” The answer: A post production agency is in need of an 8 x 8 workstation that provides storage and a U-shaped worksurface. They want a mobile pedestal and also want wood veneer. We begin discussing ways to integrate the oak veneer in a cost effective and aesthetically pleasing way. We ask questions like, “where can we cut cost and promote function?” After the back and forth, we are left with a hand sketch similar to the one below. With a fixed box-box-file we are reducing the cost of the mobile pedestal, but also adding more storage and a support element for the worksurface. Unfortunately, their budget doesn’t allow for the use of a lot of veneer, but we can eliminate some of the cost on extra legs by utilizing the veneer as functioning support as well as a beautiful form. Anytime we can give a component multiple functions we are reducing cost and promoting good design.

Custom Office Furniture
Usually at this point we would take our sketch and develop a SketchUp rendering package to send over to the client. But because we were working through an architect we figured she would appreciate our hand sketch and use it to give us some feedback and direction. We sent her over the first hand sketch and sure enough not only was she was surprised by how quickly we got back to her, was able to interact with us on a more casual level and we came up with a more refined design. We then developed another hand sketch which she then approved. At that point we were settled on a design and were able to move forward and develop a SketchUp rendering package for her to give to the client.

I love working with SketchUp, but I must admit that there is something very authentic about a hand rendering – something that unfortunately is becoming somewhat of a lost art form. Hand renderings are the bridge from design into artistry. It’s a skill that unfortunately a lot of designers today do not practice because we have programs like SketchUp that supposedly save us time. But we found that our rapid visualization technique not only saved us time, but saved our client’s time. It gave the architect an opportunity to be more involved in our design process, by feeling that the concept was still in raw form.  A sketch speaks to what the design could be – not what we think it should be.

Together we design. Together we create.

Be sure to check out some of the latest office design ideas and concepts just like this one! 


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