To sketch or not to sketch?


As the hunter and gatherer of all marketing collateral here at Spacesmith, I try to begin my quest for project data at the start of the process. Yes, every project has a story to be told, and I am hungry for all the imagery and statistics that support its narrative. I need this information for brochures, proposals, presentations, press, newsletters, our website, social media, get the picture. I am bound by duty to show off our excellent designers’ mad skills. I am always pestering (perhaps encouraging is the better word) people to share sketches, to take “before” photos at the job site, or to let me crash design charrettes for action shots. If I walk by a materials meeting, I am that person who says, “Oh, what’s that? Can I take a photo of that?” It’s a dirty job, but hey…I am mining for gold. 

Ideally, the best story lines begin with the design inspiration, and lead to each step along the way to a finished product. Dare I say…the journey? I find myself getting particularly excited by hand sketches. How cool is it to see a scribble of an idea turn into a featured element or, say, an auditorium or building?

Spacesmith Partner Marc Gordon’s sketch of a detail for the Brooklyn Pop-up Pool, designed by Spacesmith with Davis Brody Bond.

Design development sketch for a soundproof huddle room at RED Distribution, designed by Spacesmith.

Davis Brody Bond Partner Christopher Grabé’s sketches with water color for an in-house design charrette envisioning options for Pier 36, NYC.

In this digital age, I wondered how much time our designers are getting to spend with pencils and paper. Has ye goode olde fashioned sketching lost some of its cache since computer modeling hit the industry? 

So, I did a survey. I conducted a “sketch poll” engaging Spacesmith’s architects and interior designers, as well as our friends at Davis Brody Bond, with whom we enjoy a strong alliance and share a studio. Here are the questions I posed and the results:

A healthy dose of millennials. Nothing shocking here.

Makes sense since Davis Brody Bond is all architects, and Spacesmith is a mix of architects and interior designers.

Along age lines, makes sense.

A “peaceful” looking breakdown. Surprised that sketching is higher than computer drafting.

A very encouraging number of sketches happening!

Yes, indeed.

What does all this say besides Kristen knows how to make pie charts? Well, it seems the obvious rings true. Those who are more senior designers did not study computer drafting in college. That we knew. But it looks like sketching got equal if not more attention in college for all ages, which is good in my opinion, and the majority of designers still incorporate it in their process. It is not a dying art. 

So, to sketch or not to sketch? I say SKETCH! Find time to sketch and please…share with your friendly marketing director.


Kristen Persinos