Drawing outside the box!

As we approach the first semester of year II of Interior Architecture, I am painfully planning lessons. I am also planning for a 10 week course at Leeds City College, where I am to teach ‘An Introduction to Interior Design’, for those keen on exploring the potential of planning spaces. Both courses hold different outcomes, one set of students are working towards their degree, the other set of students will hopefully be able to use the skills learnt to use interior design as a hobby and for their home refurbishments.

One important skill that will be emphasised and practiced on both courses are drawing skills . I have realised from teaching that students very rarely sit down with their sketch book and sketch through ideas!

Without a doubt, this is the most important skill needed to be a good designer; to be able to transfer your ideas to paper, without sitting down at the computer, is prevalent.

So I have been practicing what I preach and therefore arranging drawing tasks to enable the students to understand the potential of sketching their ideas.

How many ways can you draw an open box?

This helps to demonstrate orthogonal projection drawing techniques. It did take me a few attempts, but I believe the following examples demonstrate my reasons for this exercise.

The first example of 'drawing a box' that I learnt.

The oblique projection is the most simplistic of the Parallel projection. This was the first example of three-dimensional drawing that I got taught at school.

The Axo

The Axonometric is the true plan of the room, in this instance a true square tilted at 45 degrees to reveal both sides of the object or space. The parallel lines are projected at equal distance, making the drawing look distorted. This example is useful for illustrating how objects are assembled.

The Iso

The Isometric, is my personal favorite.

An isometric view of an object will provide a view of three sides.
It is important to choose the best view to provide the most detail.

All lines are at either 30 degrees except for vertical lines (90 degrees)


One Point Perspective’s show the front or elevation of the space or object, the projection lines are that taken to one vanishing point. One point perspectives are useful when illustrating a long, thin environment. i.e a corridor.

The Two point Perspective, with it’s two vanishing points on the same plane, allows you to view a space on a corner, to show two different elevations.

And last but not least . . . . . .

The Three point Perspective allows you to illustrate a building from aerial or worms-eye view. Think of perspective drawings of Manhatttan or an MC Escher painting. The work on thee vanishing points, two on a horizontal plane and one, either above or below, depending on your chosen view.

Now, for my students, I will advise that there is a formula to work though to carry out these drawings, but as I am no mathematician, I advise that you trust your own eye, and if it does not look correct then you may need to revisit the principles.

For further reading please look at:

Drawing and Perceiving: Real-world Drawing for Students of Architecture and Design by Douglas Cooper

101 Things I Learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick

Technical Drawing: Basics by Bert Bielefeld and Isabella Skiba

Posted in Architect, designer, interior designer, interiorarchitect, technical drawing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Architect, Interior Architect, Interior Designer, Interior Decorator? The debate.


Clerkenwell design week 2010

In May of this year I attended Clerkenwell Design week; the trendy EC1 London borough was buzzing with design professionals across the board.  The exhibition celebrated the best in furniture, product and design services that Clerkenwell has to offer.  It was a first for this exhibition and I believe a successful one.


I was really keen to get my fill of the exhibition, as my trips to London are few and far between these days.  So I chose to attend a seminar entitled ‘Who we are’ The Interior Designer.  The chair speaker was Iris Dunbar; Director of The Interior Design School and past president of BIDA.  The panel consisted of four professionals; two architects , one interior architect  and one interior designer.

I felt slightly unnerved by the early discussions, as the conversation inevitably lead to ‘Do Interior Designers take work away from Architects’ and vice versa, because it is apparent that architects do like to take control of their projects from concept to completion and interior designers likewise. There is an increasingly evolving cross pollination of the role of the Architect and the Interior Designer; a niche that has created a hybrid, the Interior Architectural Designer.

In some instances the architect can do the job of the designer and the designer can do the job of the architect. But it all depends on the individual strengths and more importantly the education of the designer or architect.

The war-of-words was mild, but it did feel like a divide of disciplines.  The Architect has a clearly defined role and can very much own the project, the designer on the other hand can at times feel like his poor relative, brought into the project as an afterthought ‘to add a bit of colour’.  I had visions of the Two Ronnies sketch of the Class System; the architect (upper class), interior designer (middle class), interior decorator (lower class). Let me state I don’t think this is the case but I’m not sure this is the universal opinion within the industry.  This is a real sticking point.  We are all creative, we are all visionaries and are all offering a different level of design detail from macro to micro .  Why do we have to feel like we need to debate the issue?

The Architect, Designer relationship

"I look up at him".

I found it very hard to hold my tongue, as they seemed to be going round in circles.  The most apparent evidence was that each member of the panel felt very strongly about their profession and the work they were involved in.  But for the ‘interior designer’ they were stuck somewhere in the middle, they felt they crossed over into the discipline of Architecture but to the outside world they always had to state that they weren’t an Interior Decorator.

Perhaps the issues lie with the definition of services that an ‘Interior Designer’ can offer.  For example, I am a designer, who does not really offer the residential soft furnishings as this is something that is self taught throughout the years.  My education is that of an architectural background, I started out doing an degree in architecture, to then swap to interior design but concentrating on interior architecture, and was taught by architects.  I studied for 4 years and covered everything from history of architecture, psychology of design to structure. I do not call myself an interior architect due to the legal implications.   I do not have the level of knowledge to design complete buildings but  I do call myself an interior architectural designer and work on design teams with architects, I respect their knowledge and know I can complement their scheme and offer my expertise to enhance the function, safety, and aesthetics of interior spaces.

As I write this blog, I am reading a discussion on an american forum, which argues this very matter. It is interesting to read comments from Architects, Interior designers and Interior decorators.  There is one very good point from one designer;

Well, I think that there is no such thing as an “Interior Architect” and the term actually denigrates Interior Design. (Are there “Exterior Architects”?)

What’s wrong with being an Interior Designer to the fullest extent of the definition? I had an educator tell me that they used the “E.A.” term to attract males to the program that didn’t want to be labeled as an Interior Designer. That’s a sad commentary on the image of our profession.

Interior Design is more than “Interior Architecture” which to me implies just the structural and architectural components of a space. Interior Design is so much more than that.

While many architects are capable of completing a design, it is often the special skills of an Interior Designer that are needed to complete the design with their knowledge of space, detailing and yes, furniture and finishes.

It is my experience that Interior Designers do not want to be Architects, but recognized for their specialty that compliments Architecture.

The definition of interior designer is so diverse and any individual can give themselves the title. It has not had a professional body that offers us the same high regard as that of the RIBA. Until recently, BIID (British Institute Interior Design) has made some headway in becoming a recognised body. The British Interior Design Association was awarded the prestigious and rare accolade of Institute status by the Minister of State in 2009. They offer their members recognition and a Code of Conduct to follow as well as much more.  There long term plans are outlined in a recent idfx article.

It is apparent that a recognised status should be awarded to all designers that have fulfilled a certain level of training and examinations through education or service.  This would open the door for many interior designers and close the door for those individuals who turn their hand to it as they enjoy it as a hobby.  Slowly but surely we will gain the same recognition as that of other professions in the Building industry and yes, we may be more pigeon-holed into either the interior designer or interior architectural designer as defined roles,   but I live in hope that my title will one day carry the gravity and prestige it fully deserves.

Posted in Architect, architecture, BIID, clerkenwell design week, designer, interior designer, interiorarchitect, interiordesign, Professional services, RIBA | 4 Comments

Producing the Winning Tender?

As a sole trader or small company, you may, like me have had to prepare your own quotations, tenders or estimates whilst trying to second guess the competitors.

I have recently discovered that abandoning the idea of the ‘second-guess’ tactic is a much easier process.  Knowing what percentages architects or fellow designers are working to is too consuming.

How do you value your service?

As a professional Interior Designer, I know the worth of the service I offer.  I know how hard I work on a project, I know I give 110% to a project and I can offer my client and the design team my experience.  This comes at a cost.  Within my tender proposals I indicate, clearly the services I offer, the work that will be carried out for the tender sum.  I should really add that I will no doubt give them so many added extras, but this is for the client to recognise and acknowledge once I have won the project.

Time is money.

Pricing the services of a Designer is easily evaluated on time spent.  Should you have experience on similar type projects then reflecting on the timesheets you used on the job, will give you a good indication of the time spent.

Time allocated for each task for concept presentations

A rough Pie chart to demonstrate the proportion of time allocate.

££ per hour x 100hrs over a 8 week period.

Using an hourly rate method and calculating the time estimated can give a clear indication of a fixed fee or ESTIMATED fixed fee.  Every client is different, some require revision, after revision.  Some approve and sign off drawings in a speedy manner.  Remember to stipulate your terms and conditions.  If your fixed fee is for a number of hours allocated over a certain amount of time, or up to a specific stage i.e Planning, Design Stage, Tender Stage be clear and reiterate that should this time be exceeded then you will notify the client that this is the case.

Break it down.

Producing a detailed breakdown, regardless whether it has been asked for can give show the client your added value.  Personally, I produce a programme of works/resources with the task and time required to carry out that task.  Designing, 3D models, researching all takes time.  We may make it look easy but it isn’t and if, like me you have experienced the excruciating pain of 3D renders and animations, you know the time allocated will be double that due to technology and personal perfection and pride!

The reality of designing.

So you’ve lost?

If the tender has been unsuccessful, don’t be afraid to enquire for feedback.  You may or may not receive a response.  But it’s all a learning curve for next time.

For more professional advice and a detailed look at Tendering please see:
Business Link

The 10 Elements of Successful Tendering

Posted in architecture, interiordesign, Professional services, Sole trader, Tendering | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Renovate, Modernise and Restore.

In recent years, renovating your current property has become the new alternative to moving into a new, larger property. Due to the slump in property prices enlarging your home and adapting it to fit your needs sometimes makes more financial sense.  The work may range from a fairly minor upgrade through to major structural alterations.

What are the space limitations? Have you a loft to go up, a basement to go down or a garden to go out?

New side extension to Period Property

Making improvements to your current home can simply be upgrading and modernising the windows, heating systems, overhauling the old plumbing and electrical wiring.

The smaller alternations to make the bigger visual impacts are refurbishing existing bathrooms, creating ‘wet’ rooms or adding in an ensuite.

The 'Wet' Room

As the majority of families spend time in the kitchen, updating your current kitchen and enlarging the space by removing partitions so kitchen and dining room are open plan, creates a great sense of space and modern living.  This is where the idea of a ‘Day Room’ comes into play, so interaction between kitchen activity and family gathering can become more socialable.

Glass Extension day room

The addition of an extension, conservatory or loft room is a great asset.  Additional rooms can increase the value of your property once you come to sell and allow you to accommodate your current needs.

Gather the facts and figures before deciding to renovate your property, as it requires serious consideration. There are a number of methods you can employ in helping to assess the nature and extent of the work to be undertaken, the planning permission requirements and the costs.

1  Assess the work carefully

Get a professional evaluation of the extent of the work required from an architect/building surveyor.

2  Estimate the cost

Get a reliable estimate of the cost of the work from an architect/quantity surveyor/building contractor.

3  Investigate planning permission

Check if planning permission will be required and if it is likely to be granted.

4  Investigate grant funding

Check if there is grant funding available to offset the costs.

5  Secure your finance

Check your source of finance for approval.

6  Take advice

Talk it over with a professional adviser. Architects a Professional Interior Designers can discuss the options. Consult RIBA website (Royal Institute of British Architects) and  BIDA website(British Interior Design Association)

It’s also important to consider that if major work is to be carried out, how will your household operate?  Can you live without a kitchen, the mess, lack of water for a duration?  Ask friend and family if they are able to put you up while the work is being carried out.

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You’ve got a lot to say!

Well today I made an important decision and that was start my own Blog.  I am such an avid user of Twitter and read so many other useful (and perhaps not so useful posts) that I thought ‘Penny, you do have a lot to say’.

T'is Me!

I now of course have to put that into context and discuss something relevant to the world of interior design, architecture, graphics or perhaps, more useful to others, being self employed, being a mother of two and being a hardworking, highly motivated designer with ambitions and dreams.  That probably sounded more like a personal statement for my CV!

I find more often than not, due to my teaching, that I get asked questions about design, about work/life balance and about career stepping stones.  This is where I hope to base my ideas and Blog on.

Right well first things first, I have to work out my way round WordPress.  Wish me luck!

Posted in architecture, interiordesign, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments