DESIGN EXPERIENCE 2: drawing in the design process

Drawing connects the hand to the mind.  So it is no wonder that all exemplary designers (whether they are in fashion or in structures) are very skilled at making clear and convincing drawings to inform their own thought process, go into a dialogue with and convince the client. In this post I give you some advice on creating drawings and incorporating them into the design process.

You could divide drawings into three categories (although I am not a fan of making categories as it I think it stifles creativity).  These categories are:

The referential sketch is a quick rough sketch made to record a design concept for temporary purposes–the designer may refer to it later on, or may only use it to momentarily convey the concept to a colleague.

The referential sketch



The preparatory study is a series of drawings that begins to refine details. Its repetitive nature reflects the iterative side of the design process. The designer uses drawings to think through the design solution.

Preparatory study showing dimensions
Preparatory study showing initial detailing

The definitive drawing is typically a colored, scaled, computer-drawn graphic. The design no longer thrives solely in the designer’s mind; the graphic must clearly convey important information to an audience.

Definitive Drawing showing details worked out
Definitive CAD drawing: all is unequivocally determined and recorded

You might also enjoy these links on how and why designers draw: Chris Wise, Michael Graves and some tips on how to make good drawings.

And some great sketches by

Architect David Adjaye
Midcentury designer Eileen Gray
Furniture designer Samma Loof

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s