June 4, 2011 Off

Concept Design Studio: Playing with Sketchup

in General Information

I’ve been playing with Google’s Sketchup product since before Google owned it (waaaay back in 2004).  It’s a fantastic product for creating quick 3D models, made all the more powerful by the library of objects created by Sketchup users.  I don’t use it often, but every once in a while it’s a fun way to pass an hour. Yesterday I did just that to imagine what my design studio of the future would look like.

About two weeks ago I was fortunate enough to get a tour of an industrial design studio in San Francisco.  The space was incredible — a building with hundreds of years of history housing some of the most fascinating product designs of the future.  The atmosphere was dripping with creativity, innovation, and potential.  It made the Google offices I work in, while fun and inspiring themselves, drab by comparison.

I had never been in a design studio before, and afterwards  I was asked how my preconceptions about design space differed from the reality. I struggled to put my thoughts into words, but the one component I was surprised at was the spatial separation of digital and physical design space.  To me, the two have become so intertwined that I believe it makes sense to combine them into a single workflow, so prototypes can be made on a bench next to massive displays showing renderings next to whiteboards with design sketches.  Instead of seeing digital efforts as a separate workflow, intertwine them physically with the method that has been used since industrial design has existed:  sketch, prototype, refine.

Unable to clearly articulate these thoughts, I thought it would be fun to spend an hour in SketchUp throwing together my future design studio (hah!).  Some of the highlights:

  1. The space is designed into pods consisting of computer space, workspace (big tables for messing with physical medium like foam board), creative space (huge whiteboards where sketches can be made or posted), and inspiration space (big LED televisions that can show renderings or cycle through photos that will inspire the designers).
  2. The designers’ computer space always faces the creative space, so they are continuously presented with the entirety of their efforts.  This allows for subconscious and conscious assimilation of the entirety of design information, and plays to the senses described in Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind” – most importantly, design, story, and symphony.
  3. Windows.  Lots and lots of windows.  Sunlight makes us happy.  Happiness begets creativity.  Creativity inspires design.  Win.
  4. Some relaxing space to take a breather.  I am assuming the kitchen and meeting rooms are on a separate floor, so I’ve just tossed in a few inspiring design peaces (an Eames lounge chair, for example).

If I spent more time with it, I would do a few things differently.  First, probably lower the height of the whiteboards – I feel like the space has become a bit too closed off. Second, I might switch the external pods to be facing the windows – design should always be looking towards the world, right?  Finally, I should probably add some plants, and maybe a patio with a garden.  Nonetheless, it was really fun to see what could be done in an hour.  While it certainly won’t be winning any awards for beauty, it’s a really easy way to sketch some prototypes for your new office, house, etc.

So, what’s in your ideal studio space?






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