So what’s better, a 2D presentation or a 3D presentation? The answer is neither. The answer is both. The answer depends on the project and the answer depends on the end product. In all of our presentations, we have found a consistent pattern in how we express our design to the client. First a sketch, typically hand done whether rendered or not, then a more accurate plan based on an Autocad drawing, allowing us to determine real dimensions, adjacencies and site constraints. Then we take it vertical, as a model, so it can be rendered in perspective, sometimes abstractly, sometimes photo quality. And now, we put it into virtual reality for the client to truly experience the design. Ironically though, in the end, we go back to the beginning. We create product specific to the presentation, whether for marketing, for sales or for construction. The hand done sketch may entice that idealistic buyer. Actual floor plans may succeed in gaining a team’s approval of the project and a virtual reality tour may just wow everyone for that next big job. I think it’s a draw.
I continue to push my employees to generate higher quality in whatever we produce, whether drawings, design or renderings. As we push ourselves, we find that renderings have a broad range of styles and techniques from watercolor to using SketchUp to incorporating Photoshop to photorealism. As we continue to explore these techniques, the progression of styles become more and more real as they develop. The photorealistic side of presentations begins to create a correlation between virtual reality and photorealism, making them more and more relatable. The ability to provide a tool for clients to virtually experience their projects translates to their expectations that what they are visualizing is absolutely accurate. When one views a watercolor, the expectation warrants a romantic expression of the building or space. When one experiences virtual reality, however, the expectation expands to the desire for true accuracy in the experience. That accuracy requires a completion of the design within the photorealistic generation of that design. Ultimately, the architect and client reach a final product sooner rather than later. This impact on the industry will be interesting to watch in the future.
A little known secret in the architectural and design industry is that as technology develops, like a computer program or a rendering technique or drafting capabilities, the requirement as designers for attention to detail increases. We cannot get away with lines that don’t cross, flooring that is ‘almost’ the right color or a tree approximately in the correct spot. The tools we use now demand from us our focus and care when designing and presenting to our clients. And now that we are producing renderings through virtual reality, the programs we use allow for that detail. Even more, our clients now expect that detail. It becomes even more imperative for us as designers to take the time to understand what that material really is that we’re showing or to ensure the orientation of the building is truly positioned properly. Most importantly, our client wants to know, “Is that really what it looks like?”
In my last post, I discussed 2D renderings as a tool for presentation purposes. And for most clients, renderings always succeed in telling the story. We use programs like SketchUp, Photoshop, 3D Studio Max and Rhino to create 3D models which turn into 2D presentations. But now, we can take it to another level. We can place clients inside the space or even standing on the sidewalk admiring their future building. Looking at a snapshot of an experience only allows the viewer to visualize what is shown in that snapshot. But with virtual reality, we literally place the viewer in the space, allowing them to view 360 degrees of details, proportions, materials and context. This amazing tool gives the client the ability to both feel the space or building, and also place themselves in an environment that is as close to reality as possible, even though it is not.
We often get asked the question, “Can I see it in 3D?” And my answer is always the same, “Well, we can actually show you a 3D perspective, but it’s in 2D.” When an image is printed on a piece of paper, it is automatically 2D by nature of it being on a piece of paper. Interior perspectives of spaces or exterior renderings of buildings are all … well … 2D. And remember, 2D images and renderings are extremely valuable. They provide the client the ability to visualize the space or structure on a piece of paper as an image projecting something more real than what they can personally visualize. Just as still shots or photographs capture moments in time for people to appreciate and enjoy, so does the 2D rendering.
In our next blog post, we’ll explain how we are taking this technique to a whole new level of visual experience.
We often find ourselves scanning our surroundings on only one level. We walk down the street, in a city or a park or in our own neighborhoods, we inherently focus on what is at eye level. We nod to the passerby, we look in a storefront window, or we avoid the stationary trashcan located exactly where we are walking. However, above all of this, there are experiences and moments that should not be missed. There are landscaped gardens visible from tops of buildings, the occasional majestic, bald eagle flies overhead, or even sculptures that make your mind think twice about what’s going on in the sky. Always look up. You may miss something important.
During our trip to Colorado Springs, we had the pleasure of actually staying in the house that we were hired to redesign. After the first day and a half of preparing for and taking interior photographs, we then got a chance to slow down and relax. After slipping on my Uggs and pulling out my latest Baldacci book, I was sitting in the living room and realized something. Before this moment, I couldn’t figure out why this classic modern home with a true wood ceiling, heavy timber beams, concrete columns, eight foot tall glass windows and real concrete tile felt like such a warm, inviting space. And then it hit me. The space made you want to read a book. All of those components; the oversized fireplace, the classic modern furniture, the wonderful scenery seen through the expanse of clear glass, were simply designed to encourage one to read. And I realized that using the act of reading as a benchmark for design, forces us as architects and interior designers to create spaces that are proportioned, appropriately sized and finished in a way that provides comfort and satisfaction.
It is not often that we, as architects and interior designers, get the opportunity to renovate a classically modern structure. It is just as rare that we get the opportunity to meet the original architect of that building and even more rare that the original architect still lives in the house we are renovating. We were lucky enough to have this exact opportunity in Colorado Springs. We had two choices: 1. to design something representative of our own aesthetic to show off our own design style or 2. to respect the original design with the only goal to complement the existing aesthetic and ultimately hope for the original architect’s approval. We chose the latter and got that approval. By renovating with respect and admiration for the design, the results were both aesthetically pleasing for all involved, but more importantly, we enhanced the original architecture and space by giving it the respect it deserved.
Our website has morphed multiple times over the years, but the main purpose of any designer’s website is to express the visual success and achievements of that designer. The photography gives us the channel to express our talent and specifically, what our buildings or spaces look and feel like. Though always subjective in nature, our aesthetic and built form is our life and these photographs represent our careers. They show the evolution of our designs and they can also tell the story of a project. If photography is used properly, the photographs taken should allow the viewer to take themselves on a journey through the relationship between space, proportion, materials, the furniture and its context. The images, organized properly, can explain the thought process of the architect or interior designer, expressing how they approached the project and ultimately, the project’s success.
On a recent trip to Colorado Springs, Patty and I visited one of our residential projects renovating a classic modern home set at the base of Cheyenne Mountain. While there, we experienced a most amazing climatic transformation over the two days we were in town. As seen in the photos below, we went from a landscape covered in snow and clouds to beautiful green foliage, Cheyenne Mountain in the background and not a hint of snow or ice anywhere. This brings up an interesting awareness to appreciate and take advantage of the photographic opportunities the climate provides when documenting our buildings for marketing purposes. Don’t get stuck taking photos only when the project is complete. Be patient and take photos at different times of the year in multiple environments. It will only enhance the success of your project and help to tell your story.
Photo taken on Feb. 3 from the front yard (can’t see the mountain)
Photo by Don Jones Photography