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An Ode to Interior Design

An Ode to Interior Design

Every design student has submitted a portfolio in order to be accepted into the institution of their choice. The portfolio served as evidence that the prospective student possessed many of the creative skills they would need to have in order to continue professional training. Perhaps one of the most important skills that design students are evaluated on is their ability to draw. Young designers are judged on their drawing skills before they are even offered the opportunity to attend design school. Yet the practice of hand drawing is increasingly disappearing from interior design pedagogy. In response to this, poché takes an activist stance towards digital drawing and in turn, the interior design industry as it stands today, by using hand drawing as a tool of creative expression and pedagogical change. 

Hand drawing has always played a critical role within interior design and architecture, as the primary means to document designs, until 1982 when the architectural software, AutoCAD, was first introduced. AutoCAD was primarily designed for mechanical engineers, but very quickly extended across multiple professions, including interior design. [1]Although the very first 3D modeling software was invented in 1963, in the 1990’s, Revit, Rhino, and Sketchup gained a significant following across the design profession, becoming industry standards. Following this digital turn, these programs became increasingly present within design institutions, suggesting students perform to these new standards.[2]


As a result, the emphasis to incorporate traditional drawing methods in interior design pedagogy was diminished.

Perhaps the largest challenge design students overcome in their educational journey is learning how to conform to this pressure to perform in a way that is foreign to all of us. All of a sudden, the word drawing has taken on a new meaning. Within interior design programs today, drawing means a proficiency in a variety of digital programs such as Revit, Rhino, and AutoCAD. These digital tools have introduced a whole new set of struggles for students. Design programs are teaching students to speak three or more different languages in order to effectively communicate design solutions. Students are now emerging from the institution, ready to enter the industry with an understanding that digital tools are heavily weighted and often become the deciding factor for future employment.



With the opportunities made possible through these softwares, digital drawings and digital models have now become interchangeable among authors. Although digital softwares allow us to create accurate representations of complex geometric forms, they do not allow us to create individualistic drawings that characterize one designer from the other. What differentiates one digital drawing from the next is the logic of the design and its line weight, and other formal characteristics. Yet beyond these factors, each digital drawing is relatively the same. There are only a limited number of options for materiality, in the same way that there are limits to material alteration and exporting.

Hand drawing leaves a lasting impression on the audience. Despite the fact that it is the building block of this profession, its unmistakable qualities are also what draws people into them. Qualities like authorship, authenticity, and imagination. Perhaps it is the sketchy nature of the half-drawn chair, or the hint of bold colour added through a brush stroke. These subtle distinctions connect us to the person behind the work. Hand drawings reveal a designer’s thought process. Whether it is shown through eraser marks or crossed out notations, these are signs of designing that digital drawings conceal. Yet, these are the aspects of the profession that exemplify a designer's interpretation of interior space. Digital drawing tools and 3D modeling softwares emphasize the final key rendering or drawing, by allowing the designer to delete older versions of the same space. With hand drawing, the decision to alter the design can be seen and felt through the marks left by the drawing tools on the drawing surface. With hand drawing however, this design strategy is fluid, allowing for creative conversation about the work, inviting participants to dive right in.

This profession, born out of architecture and art, emerged without the use of digital tools. While digital tools offer the industry many advantages, they also indirectly minimize the importance of how to communicate design solutions with a pencil. The pencil, which is its own form of technology, is being left behind amongst the popularity to communicate with a mouse.

Poché was created on the premise that one can draw and redraw an interior repeatedly to bring to light several aspects of a living space that are otherwise unseen, while hinting at the importance of upkeeping traditional drawing techniques within a now predominantly digital industry.

Poché brings attention to the silent, yet extremely relevant issue of digital dominance, by over emphasizing the beauty and delicacy of traditional drawing methods in interior design to tell the story of a place. It accentuates the beauty of the lived in, the cluttered, and the mundane by using hand drawing as a tool of creative expression and pedagogical change.

Rather than positioned as binaries, experimentation between analogue and digital techniques offer the designer a richer repertoire. Poché aims to remind designers that hand drawing for interior design is powerful, provoking and very much alive in a mainly computerized industry, and should be used more alongside digital techniques to elevate the profession.

This piece was published in poché Vol. 1 An East Village Apartment


[1] “A Brief History of AutoCAD.” Scan2CAD, 5 Jan. 2014

[2] “A Brief History of 3D Visualizations: The Ins and Outs, Easy Render, 2019

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