The work of an interior designer is mainly divided into two parts: one outside the office, to make a technical inspection (usually it coincides with the meeting with the client and the definition of the concept) and the other sitting in front of the PC.
Today I want to show you what’s in my bag when I have to go to a site (this is the term by which we mean the houses / buildings / interiors we’re going to work on): are you ready for this unusual “what’s inside my bag”?
Paper & Pen
I prefer to use a diary and a pencil, even though many of my colleagues use simple A4 paper sheets – in fact, I can say that both thai architects and engineers draw a lot of sketches to show their ideas to others.
Personally I use the agenda to write down the general lines of the concept, like the colors and the styles that the customer like and those he doesn’t like, some notes on his lifestyle and the functions that must be considered while designing. But from some months, I have “update myself” and change to a more paperless, using a new technological tool.
The iPad Pro (with the Apple Pen)
Right now the iPad is slowly taking the place of the diary (but at home I have a paper backup of the most important information about every project), especially when it comes to taking notes on a site.
Thanks to the app GoodNotes, which allows you to have at hand infinite notebooks, I can import photos and take notes or make sketches directly on them, without having to draw everything on a sheet of paper, and immediately find what was talked about weeks ago.
Moreover with the AutoCAD application, I can make precise plants and immediately realize the dimensions of the room without mistaking the proportions, making the work easier for me when I put myself on the computer; instead of redesigning it all over again, I already had a base to work with.
The iPad is also very convenient to have a reference portfolio always at hand, with images, styles, colors and even catalogs ready to be showed to the customer without having to carry a suitcase behind (I happened to do it, and every time the customer was frightened by the amount of catalogs I was going to propose).
Some may wonder: okay, technology can help, but do you really need an IPad? For many years I used the Samsung Note 8 tablet combo + Note 5 cellphone, and I have to admit that the iPad wins hands down against the tablet, not only for its size (I have a 12.9-inch iPad which is practically large double of my old tablet; maybe is not the better site to use outdoor, but with the split screen is really useful to consult different reference and take notes) but above all for the App available.
You have to pay for almost all of them, but they definitely know how to do their job. I never had an Apple products before, but since I have this iPad, the difference between it and the Android tablet I used before is really enormous!
Is very important, when you go to the site, to have a meter to take the measure of the site.
In fact, is important to have both a paper or a digital app to write down the dimensions, and at least two meters: one “normal” and a laser one, for measure the height of high interiors.
In Thailand usually on the normal meter used the double system both in centimeters and in inches; in fact there are even specific meters for the Feng Shui masters who report the “lucky numbers”, highlighted in red, that, according to the Chinese tradition, bring good luck – I happened to make furniture of 89 centimeters and wide 91 because, according to the Feng Shui master, 90 was not a good number for that family.
Personally, I always have two meters with me: one “tape” of 3 meters, and one laser, very comfortable for large walls and heights.
The laser meter is the instrument I never separate when go to a site: it is really useful when you need to calculating the height of a living room with a loft without anyone’s help.
It also speeded me up a lot in the survey phase, allowing me to know, with a simple click, how wide a living room was, also if it is more than 8 meters.
There are also lasers that allow you to calculate the perimeter or area of a room simply by setting a specific function within them, but these are usually done by tilers or installers to compare the measurements received from us designers.
I then saw some carpenters use lasers with built-in bubbles to make sure of the slope of the floor and thus create perfectly straight furniture: as I usually say, it is not so much the instrument itself that facilitates a work or not, but it is knowing how to use it or not!
A large bag or a backpack
Although it appears here as the last thing, the first thought when I have to go to a site is the “container”: which bag do I choose?
It must be something big enought to contain everything, a material that is difficult to make dirty or that can be easily cleaned (you cannot imagine how much dust there is in a site!
Especially since most of the time I happened to go to places under construction, where maybe there are neither windows nor floors, and often you can’t even place your bag somewhere, not only because everything is very dirty, but also because there may be workers coming and going, and last because while you’re talking to the customer, you usually move from one room to another, and you need to have everything at hand.
Luckily I have a special helper, my mom, who helps me keep the iPad while I take the measurements; but I think that a shoulder bag with different pockets can be the ideal bag to change tools often, even if lately I’m thinking of using a backpack, so I can better balance the weight of everything (unfortunately the shoulder bag puts the whole weight on a single shoulder, bringing with it a slight back pain at the end of the day).
…and a lot of patience!
The very last thing you need is much, much patience! Not only because the work at site is a work of concentration, but also because here in Thailand at the sites it is very hot; often the air conditioning has not yet been installed and there are not even fans: you must take with you a bottle with fresh water, dress light clothes and try to keep your concentration despite the heat.
The trick is to prepare yourself well before arriving at the site, making a list of measures to be taken, questions to ask, so that you can check what information you need and try to use only the time strictly necessary for the inspection, without getting lost in unnecessary detail.
And that’s all for today! I hope you want to continue to follow me in this adventure, for now I still haven’t really talked about interior design, but I think that knowing a little about the basics of the designer’s work can be useful to everyone, especially to those who aren’t very knowledgeable about this world.
Meanwhile, I greet you, and I wish you a good continuation waiting to “see us” in the next post!