Monday, November 19, 2007

Cheat Sheets for Designers

When you go to design school you spend countless hours learning correct drafting techniques and perspective drawing. You are told that everything should be drawn exactly to specification on drafting velum using a laborious process of measuring to the nearest inch with an architects scale and plotting furniture exactly on your original drawing. I can't tell you how many hours and weekends I spent at the drafting table!!!!

When I got out into the real world of design one of the first revelations I had was that there was no way in hell that this method was going to work for me. I needed a streamlined process to quickly turn out sketches and floor plans for my clients. No client was going to pay me to spend 12 hours drafting a perfect floor plan.

I found a small magnetic furniture layout for sale in th back of a design magazine and it changed my life. I could use the little "to-scale" pieces to quickly determine what the furniture placement should be on existing plans and I could quickly trace the pieces onto a floor plan to be rendered in by hand.

These systems have come a long way since the old days ( I still use my old one! ) . They now offer multiple scales, perspective layouts, and exterior templates, among others.

The first system is The Board. It is a magnetic system that uses an underlaying board on which you can arrange your room or elevation. You can lay your floor plan on top of the board and use the individual elements right on the plan.

This system has hundreds of pieces in all different shapes and sizes. The only thing I don't like about this one is the images are somewhat overdrawn and they are a bit distracting. However the system makes up for it by it's sheer size and variety of shapes.

The Board offers 1/4 layout scale for floor plan development and space planning as well as elevations of many of the pieces.

They offer many supplements including kitchen & bath.

The second system is the EZ Decorator. It is a vinyl overlayment system which allows you to overlap peices on top of each other to create intricate floor plans and perspective drawings.

You can create your layout , photocopy it and then use the copy for presentation or use it as a guide to produce a hand drawn rendering.

If you do a lot of window treatments there is Mastervisions, by Sally Tucker. It is a vinyl overlay system exclusively for windows.

They have a new supplement for pillows and also offer a cd version.

These are great tools to speed up the design process but I don't feel that they will replace hand drawn plans by designers. I am a staunch proponent for hand rendering and I believe that these systems should be used as a tool to facilitate faster rendering techniques. For the homeowner or DIY'er they are a great assistant when planning your furniture placement and helping you avoid making costly mistakes.

Both systems come in many configurations, none of which are particularly cheap. The basic systems may be worth the expense if they can save time and help you avoid making costly mistakes.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the resources!

Pink Wallpaper said...

i use the board with all of my design projects...the only thing i hate about it is putting all of the pieces back into their spots!!

Linda Merrill said...

I use EZ Decorator (hate the name, tho!) and you're right. Being in the real world - especially when self-employed - doesn't allow the time to slave over drawings like I did in design school. I agree with pink wallpaper - hate putting the pieces back in their place!!

Unknown said...

I agree, I hate putting the pieces back!

cotedetexas said...

I am going to get this tonight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Hi Jackie,

Looks faster & easier for sure!


Mrs. Blandings said...

This is so good to know - as someone who "helps friends," I have no training so I could use a drafting "cheat." I've wondered if these are handy, and haven't gotten one because of the expense. Looks like it's worth the investment.

drey said...

wow they are NOT cheap! i'm studying now and would love one of these! wonder if there are cheaper and not so complicated ones around... just for starters.

Anonymous said...

I work in landscape design and ordered one of these after reading your review. WOW! I just did my first project today and boy was my client impressed. Thanks for the tip!