The decision to enter the world of creative technical design; whether it’s architecture or interior design/ interior architecture, is one that should be entered wholeheartedly and with a degree of physics in mind, as the technical melodramatic world of orthographic sketches and plans can send you a little stir crazy if you do not know what to do.  It is such an important aspect of interior design that will tend to rule your world, and an essential one when working with a client.  A prospective Interior Designer must know how to master every technical skill there is to enable him/her to take an idea from your head and not only put this idea to paper; usually in the form of mind maps or bubble diagrams and sketches, but from paper to computer software programs such as SketchUp Pro and AutoCAD or Autodesk Revit and then into the real world through the construction of a maquette (French word for a small scale model, or rough draft of an unfinished sculpture), and of course the finished renovation.

However, in order to do ANY of this, the prospective Interior Designer needs to undertake the appropriate amount of study.

That’s where my journey begins.  Having recently completed a degree in Fine Art gaining invaluable skills in colour mixing, colour theory, textile art/creation, print making, sculpting and of course drawing and painting; along with having already gained industry-ready skills in Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop and most recently Adobe Illustrator, I was ready to take on the technical and other skills required to become an Interior Designer.

So after completing my Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) degree I studied some first-year units in Architecture/ Interior Architecture at University and found that it was hard.  I quickly realised that I lacked the technical skills and know-how required at University Level simply because I’d never heard of AutoCAD and had no idea how to create a to-scale maquette, and whilst I didn’t fail, I was left thoroughly dejected and felt I needed to take on the Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration to learn these skills that not only the University requires, but the skills Industry require should I either decide to go further with my studies, or take on the workforce when current studies cease.

So what have I learnt?

A lot! I believe that being an organised perfectionist; and having a background in Graphic Design truly helps with the endless amount of documentation required, and the communication required when meeting with and presenting work to a client.

However, to get to that point, you need to know the technical aspects no matter what you create.  It is important that you implement your knowledge of the elements and principles of design, and know all relevant building codes and Workplace Health and Safety Legislation pertaining to whatever project you undertake (as the codes and legislation differ from state to state and from residential to commercial to retail to visual merchandising design) when articulating your ideas through appropriate sketching methods and mediums, whether by hand (first image of the two below) or through Photoshop (second image of the two below).


Below | 1581 - Residential Decoration and Design Studio 2 | Assessment 2 | Coastal Chic Style Floor Plan Design of Ensuite and Main Bedroom (Version 1) | Individual pieces of furniture created to scale and rendered by hand.  Remainder of the floor plan was rendered through Photoshop | Lehonani McEchaidh

1581 Coastal Chic Version 1 Design

Below | 1581 - Residential Decoration and Design Studio 2 | Assessment 2 | Hamptons Style Floor Plan Design of Ensuite and Main Bedroom with Office (Version 2) Individual pieces of furniture created to scale and rendered by hand.  Remainder of the floor plan was rendered through Photoshop | Lehonani McEchaidh

1581 Hamptons Version 2 Design

The beauty of Photoshop is that you don’t just sketch.  It can be used for everything you require.  So I did just that.  I created title pages for the orthographic drawings, and used the program to create mood boards, concept boards and sample boards.  I also created mood boards in an online program called Canva, along with other like-minded mood board generators.  Digital components differ greatly to the real-time mood board or sample board in that you use actual samples obtained from various companies, photograph them and upload them into a Microsoft PowerPoint or Microsoft Word document for submission to Martin College.

As the course progressed, I undertook Martin College's tutorials on SketchUp Pro, a program used in Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, Civil and Mechanical Engineering and even Film and Video Game Design, with the aim to create industry-ready orthographic (technical) drawings from a simple drawn floor plan, transforming the plain floor plan into an artful masterpiece, which are then transformed into proper technical floor plans, demolition plans, lighting and electrical plans, sections, elevations and other plans which are then plotted onto a title block page for submission to Martin College.  By learning the skills required through SketchUp Pro, I've competently learnt how to create a range of plans that enable me to work in any industry.  I love creating a floor plan and implementing the 3D Warehouse components to create a magnificent design for a client.  I think the design part of SketchUp Pro is the main reason I love using the program, however I think I am too much of a perfectionist as the design has to be perfect so presentation of the plans equals continuation and success of the project.

Below | 1582 - Commercial Decoration Studio | Assessment 3 | Perspective - A3 View on Entry | Created and rendered using SketchUp Pro | Lehonani McEchaidh

Perspective - 1582 A3 View on Entry copy

The other 3D software program widely used by Architects and Interior Designers alike is AutoCAD. .  AutoCAD was a program that I was seriously afraid of, considering the entire industry rests on this one piece of software, and I am so much better with SketchUp Pro than anything AutoCAD has to offer.  Well unfortunately, all of the tutorials Martin College offered were entirely for Windows-based computers only, and owning a MacBook Pro, I couldn't make much sense of it, even if I did successfully complete an assessment using AutoCAD (with the assistance, I must say of Sketchup Pro and SketchUp Pro’s layout software).  I tried to teach myself, and found some aspects of the program fine to use, and others simply too confusing and time-consuming for words.  In time I will be able to learn, however it is imperative that in order to fulfil this requirement when moving forward, that I obtain a Windows-based laptop/computer and go through the tutorials properly.  It is simply too much on what I have.

Below | 1583 Commercial Communication and Construction | Assessment 2 | Front External Elevation Image | Created using SketchUp Pro and Rendered using AutoCAD | Lehonani McEchaidh

Front External Elevation Image copy

And don’t forget that there is of course the documentation (project timelines, contracts, costing spreadsheets, furniture/fixtures and equipment schedules etc.) in-between the industry-required software elements, that require the use of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.  These were easy to use, and a great help when creating such time-consuming documents for client approval.

A mouthful I know! But I've thoroughly enjoyed the course and learning various software programs.  Aside from AutoCAD (full competency coming soon!), I believe that I am competent and industry-ready.

World (and Windows), here I come!