Favorite Tools of the Trade—Part 1: Paper

August 25, 2016

We recently asked around our office, “what is your favorite design tool?” and we want to share the responses. While we all have our favorites that we use every day, it can be eye-opening to see how someone else uses a different tool or in a different way.

To start with, we’ll talk about paper. Although architecture offices are decreasingly paper-reliant, it is hard to deny the impact of taking a pen (or pencil, marker, X-acto blade…) to paper in order to communicate an idea. Here are some staff picks:

IMG_8115Rhodia 5×5 grid pad

“Easy to slip into a pocket, I carry this pad everywhere for quick notes and to do items. Perforated pages make it easy to start fresh”

“Most often used to take notes at meetings, create to do lists, etc., but there is something about the grid that encourages quick sketches.”

IMG_7512Wirebound sketchpad

“…for longer-term lists and ideas”

“a dedicated wirebound notebook or sketchpad evolves through the life of a project as a sort of diary of the design process”

IMG_2713Hot Press watercolor paper

“I recall in school I liked to work with printmaking or watercolor paper, and occasionally I will go back to that. The weight and tooth of the paper allow for a variety of line weights and textures, and for layers of erasing and redrawing.”


IMG_6373Tracing paper

“Design is all about bringing ideas into focus gradually. Layers of tracing paper tell the story.”

“It is referred to by many names, but trace, flimsy, canary paper, is indispensable for me because it aids in the evolution of a design through multiple layers of overlay.”

“It allows us to build up on and layer ideas, and is helpful for answering technical questions as well as developing the design in the early stages. It is kind of like having X-ray vision…”