If you’re at all interested in architecture and design you should start listening to the Archispeak podcast right away. Neal, Evan and Cormac talk about the practice of architecture in a frank and open way, and what I really love is that they aren’t afraid to dive into specific subjects and spend a lot of time on them. A while back they were having a discussion about the old and new schools of architecture and the feeling that the art of sketching might be dying. Unable to let this discussion drop they posted an addendum that focused on sketching and thinking through design. After all of that discussion of hand drawing, sketching and iterating ideas, they’ve released their latest episode titled “The Mechanics of the Sketchbook.” In their latest episode Evan and Cormac GEEK OUT over sketchbooks, pens, pencils, sketching on an iPad and all things hand drawing.
All of this discussion of sketching got me thinking about the role analog tools still play in my work. Paper planning tools still integral for me. I used to carry three notebooks around, but I’ve since reduced to one - though 2014 will see the addition of a second. I keep all kind of notes in there - running task lists, meeting notes, ideas, it’s a running catalog of what’s happening in my head.
If you work with light sketching takes on a slightly different role in the design process than it might for other design professionals. What you’re trying to demonstrate is a actually where light will fall and where it won’t. Where it might create shadow and what those shadows might look like. Nowadays lighting designers and other professionals will create renderings to demonstrate these concepts and they are certainly important to the design process. However, let me give you a real life scenario that happening for me today.
I have a meeting in about an hour. In that meeting I’m going to walk an architect through three proposed lighting options for an office space. Now this week I’ve been slammed working on both all of my work for SDA and finishing up an event installation (more on that tomorrow) that had me on site till about 9pm. If I wanted to go in with a fully rendered set of options for three different lighting scenarios it would mean hours of building the room, arranging the lights and then letting the computer render the options. In a week where I am slammed (this meeting was called yesterday) that would be nearly impossible. Just as important, that’s a lot of time and effort just to talk through options. So this morning, I sat with my notebook and I sketched out my ideas. They aren’t perfect renderings and they will require me talking through them with the architect, but accompanied by cut sheets and application photos they are more than enough information to explain what I’m thinking. Once we’ve decided as a team what our direction is we can then do a fancy rendering package to show the client.
A couple of concept sketches using a product called Lumenline from Lumenpulse.
Concept sketch using a product called Tambient from the Lighting Quotient.
There’s also something about the time it takes to sketch something that helps a designer’s thinking. It takes time to shade a drawing or clean up lines, in those little gaps you can think through nuances of the design and make sure you’ve got things covered. It’s a powerful way to think deeply about what you’re doing. That, I think, is the joy of sketching because it’s physical it’s immersive.
Like I said, if you’re not listening to the Archispeak podcast go do it now. You should also hurry up and follow Neal, Evan and Cormac on the their twitter feeds.
Are you still sketching by hand? How do you work through ideas? ”