The arsenal of an interior designer is an impressive and ever growing box of tricks. What once consisted of nothing more than a drawing board and a few pens now relies heavily on a multitude of CAD or Computer Aided Design packages. So whilst the kit is getting easier to carry, it now requires many months of familiarisation or even professional training every time new software is bought out in order to remain up to date with your competition. Design software isn’t cheap either, if you are self employed you could be looking at a £1000 shaped hole in your bank balance every time you update.
Negatives out of the way, CAD obviously has an awful lot to offer. It can massively reduce the amount of time it takes to create plans or perspective drawings, thereby making a designer far more productive. More productivity means more pay if you are self employed and a better chance of promotion if you work in a practice.
We all know how precious designers can be about their work- just watch them wince when asked to tweak a drawing or design, however with CAD software designs are extremely easy to alter or restructure. Not only does this help eradicate the need for wincing, it also means designers can afford to be much more daring in their designs and potentially come up with things they never would have tried on paper.
A particularly major advantage CAD software has over the drawing board is its ability to create 3 dimensional visual “fly throughs” which allow clients to literally walk around the design, giving them a much better picture of what it feel like to live or work in their commissioned design. A fly through provides a sense of scale and proportion that measurements and flat plans could never hope to do, and allows finishing details such as a table, settee beds, bedside table lamps or window dressings like vertical blinds or curtains to be quickly positioned. For a designer this is a massive help as if a client can be helped to visualise an actual home rather just a space, they are much more likely to go ahead with a build.
Purists or older designers may argue that CAD has stripped the design trade of talent and that the design process has been replaced by a random hit and miss process of simply experimenting with package tools, however most designers will have come from an artistic background are more than capable of getting down to basics should they have to- the designer is still the spark and the brain, the term is Computer AIDED Design not Computer Automatic Design. Besides, CAD is a whole new skill in its own right and a successful contemporary designer should be more than open to the idea of change and progression- after all that is the basis of the profession. What is also true is that design is a results driven industry, fascinating though the process that leads to something groundbreaking can often be, it is the end result that we have to live with.