Designers are accustomed to using a sketch as the quickest and simplest way of converting a
mental image into a reality that can be viewed and shown to others. Beginning work on a
furniture design project usually means many sketches in which the designer notes possible ideas
on paper. The process of noting ideas tends to generate alternative ideas and certain directions
emerge as being the most promising direction to follow.
Pencil is the best medium as it can be easily erased. But felt tip pens are also used in the initial
design stages. Any kind of paper can be used. Even the sketch on the back of an envelope or the
doodles on the phone pad may be the first proposal for the initial design. Sketchbooks and
drawing paper are useful but many designers seem more at ease with less formal materials such
as loose sheets of paper. Graph paper offers the possibility of maintaining angles and
establishing scale relationships.
Tracing paper of good quality is helpful for developing layered revisions over previous sketches.
Whatever the media used, sketches may be vague and conceptual or more specific, with the
vague sketches often developing to the more specific sketches. At the proposal stage the
sketches may be in perspective view or orthographic elevations. Sketches need not be to scale,
but it is useful to introduce scale at an early stage to avoid discovering that drastic changes are
required when the design is considered in real dimensions.
METHODS TO ASSIST THE DESIGN PROCESS
Furniture involves crucial three dimensional relationships hence it is
important to sketch in three dimensional form at early stages in the
design process. A sketch model or rough model, that is a prototype,
that is made quickly of simple materials, without great care for a
realistic appearance or finish will serve to provide an aid to
visualising in three dimensions, critical aspects of the proposal. Such
aspects may be moving parts, fitting and stacking which are hard to
evaluate on a flat piece of paper.
Sketch models are often done at very small scales from paper,
cardboard, wire, soft woods and other miscellaneous materials. Paper
clips, wire, tooth picks, bamboo skewers and similar odds and ends are
also used. Acetate sheets, thin brass and aluminium, wood veneers
and other various papers can simulate different surface finishes.
Model making cements, quick setting glues and plastic adhesives are
useful. Scissors, straight metal edge, cutting knife, wire cutters and
pliers are helpful tools. Often it is helpful to move from paper sketch
to sketch model and back to paper sketch as the design develops. Each
sketching mode uncovers particular problems and enables them to be
solved. The choice of scale is dependent somewhat on the piece being
designed. Consideration should also be given to the materials likely to
be used in the model.
The use of scale ensures that the conversion of ideas, from Ideas to realistic form,
flows more readily. Models at the scale of 1:10 are ideal for the early stages of the
design process. However, full sized models are very helpful in evaluating the
relationships to the human form and testing the ergonomics of an item. Most
sketch models, either scaled or full size, tend to be fragile and are considered
expendable. Photographs should be taken for records and for reference in ongoing
A finished model is different from a sketch model in that it attempts to simulate
the final product in every way. It is an ideal way to show the appearance of the
design. Photographs of the model can be used for visual purposes in the design
process. It may be scaled at 1:10 or less as the finished size determines. However,
fully detailed scale models can be as costly to produce as a prototype. They do not
play a very important role in the professional furniture design process. They are
most useful when a large group of designs are under consideration or a very
complex system is being developed and making full size prototypes would be
Two other types of model, the “mock-up” and the “prototype” are close and overlap the
use of the finished model to some extent.
A mock-up is a full sized model that reproduces certain aspects of the design in full and
realistic detail, but omits other aspects of realism in the interests of easy construction
which results in economy of time and cost. A mock-up chair for instance, might present
seat and back surfaces at full size and intended angles with the finally planned seating
construction, but be made of rough materials with no effort to simulate the final
appearance. This would enable the study of seating comfort without the effort of making
all the finished parts that a prototype would involve. A mock-up storage unit might be
roughly built to check the appropriateness of the storage spaces. Mock-ups are usually
made of materials with assembly detail that encourages easy Revision.
A prototype, like a mock-up, a full sized model but is made as accurately
and perfectly as possible. It is produced with all the materials and
finishes that will be in the finished product. A prototype is often called a
sample and is a “one off” single example of the production. Where the
is to be made by hand, as in craft production, or with simple machinery,
it may simply be the first unit made. It will then be critically evaluated
and any required adjustments will be made to future items produced.
When more complex and costly industrially advanced production
techniques are involved as in metal and plastic goods prototypes can be
difficult to produce. But it is still a useful device to assess an item before
large sums of money are invested in new machinery and the development
of a production line.
A detail drawing is a close-up view of part of an object to show it in much finer detail,
they show a small portion of an object at a large scale. Scale for details might be 1:1,
1:5 or 1:10.
Details often show a partial section of a piece of furniture or construction component
blown up to an appropriate scale so as to communicate the interaction between
However detail drawings are not always drawn up in section and may include an
enlarged drawing of the floor plan or elevation. Section details provide information
on the location and construction of different parts, the relationships of these parts
to the surroundings, and the juncture of materials. Details are referenced form plan,
elevation, and section drawings.
A drawing set is a series of drawings that form a package of information for a
particular project. For a small interior design project such as a kitchen
renovation, a drawing set might include the following: floor plan, elevations,
section or sections, electrical plan and one or two pages of cabinetry or
Planning a drawing set
In the early stages of any project, the designer or architect in charge will
have to plan the drawing set required to complete all of the building
work. This allows them to estimate the time required to complete the
drawing work and provide an estimate for the design fees based on the
amount of work involved. It also allows the designer to produce a logical
series of numbers for each drawing so that all of the information can be
The designer generally makes a sketch layout of each page, to scale, to
make sure that all of the drawings and information is included and is
An initial draft of the drawing set is produced in the form of a schedule,
with a list of all the drawing names and numbers. Once drafted, this
schedule or drawing list allows the designer or designers to evaluate the
proposed number and type of drawings to be produced.
Building a 3D model of a room
Using SketchUp to build a model of your designs at
the concept stage has several advantages,
• design flaws can be quickly identified, for
example you have not allowed enough space for
• you can easily create several views for concept
• you can export the geometry to other
applic atio ns (e.g . Au toCAD) fo r drawi ng
One of the most common operations that you will
perform as an interior designer is to create a room
or a space for your design.
3D Modelling in SketchUp
If you follow these basic steps in the following order, you will be able to build a room
with very few problems.
Start by opening a new SketchUp file. You can delete the default human figure. Save
As... using a new name for your drawing in an appropriate folder.
Create the two-dimensional geometry on the x.y plane to represent the walls. Ignore
the doors and windows at this stage. Make sure that the geometry is closed, so that a
face appears in the wall cavities,
Extrude the face using the Push/Pull tool to the desired height using the Value Control
Make the openings for the windows and doors using the Measure Tape tool to create
guides for the openings and the Push/Pull tool to create the voids. Step 5
Make a component of the walls and call the component Walls.
Create a layer called Walls and add the walls to the Walls layer.
Operation steps for building a room
Make a component of the walls and call the component Walls. Create a layer
called Walls and add the walls to the Walls layer.
Import the doors and window objects eitherfrom 3D warehouse or from your
own collection. If they are not components, make a component of each window
and door. Insert them into the openings in your model by using the Move tool.
Scale the windows and doors to fit using the Scale tool. Create a layer called
Windoors and add the windows and doors to the Windoors layer.
Add the architectural detail of the room. Use the Follow Me tool to create
cornices, skirting boards, sills, etc.
Add the furniture. You can now add some furniture to the spaceby accessing
3D warehouse once again. Alternately you can go to the Window menu and
click on Components. Choose Architecture from the drop-down list as shown
and scroll down to find Furniture. You may also add furniture by importing a
model you have saved in a folder. Make a new layer for these items so that you
can hide them later.
Add the decorating accessories. Explore 3D warehouse to find accessories for
your room. This could include artwork, shelves, wall lights, ornaments or other
items. Make a new layer for these items so that you can hide them later.
Add people images to give your model a sense of scale. There are both graphic
style and photo images of people in 3D warehouse. Two-dimensional images of
people are usually set to face the viewer and look more realistic than the three
dimensional people you find in the warehouse. Create a layer called People and
place the images on this so that you can hide them later when you don’t need
them to be visible.
Set up various views and save them as scenes