At Spant Studio, everything is drawn or drafted digitally. Although the small studio has a workshop, the clear majority of prototypes are made on a 3D printer. The 3D printer is a small part of a process filled with digital tools, but the traditional sketch book still has its place.
‘We had a client for whom we created some hand-drawn sketches that actually “sold the project” in a better way than digital visualisations could. When you’re doing digital visualisations or renderings, you must make decisions about a lot of small details, whereas with a hand-drawn sketch those details don’t come into play in the same way,’ says Spant Studio architect and partner, Kasper Baarup Holmboe.
The other half of the studio, architect Troels Thorbjørnson, adds: ‘Most clients are very happy with hand-drawn sketches at the beginning of the process, but when we move further along all digital means will be used to come up with the best design possible.’
The two architects established Spant Studio in 2013. They were involved in a joint study at the Aarhus School of Architecture, when a mutual fascination for jumps in scale and level of functionality ignited their partnership. This fascination is supported and encouraged by using varied technological tools, which is a particular trait for architects, they say.
‘We’re architects by trade and we know a lot of designers who don’t concentrate on using 3D sketch software. Instead they use foam, wood, clay, etc. to visualise their models, but that’s kind of hard for us to do, given that we as architects must deal with loads of constructional data to design proper solutions. You can’t fit this data into a down-scaled clay model of a house, for example,’ explains Baarup Holmboe.
No matter what the project, they begin by scribbling a few ideas in a sketch book, then soon switch over to sketching with an iPad Pro or computer. This gives Spant Studio an extra layer of design consciousness.
‘The good thing about 3D software like SolidWorks is that it’s not that sketch-like, but puts more weight onto the engineering part of a building or a chair. When we change one parameter in SolidWorks it adjusts the adjoining dimensions so that everything still fits and also changes the drawings placed with our suppliers. All in all, using digital opportunities improves our awareness of pitfalls and leads to better solutions,’ says Thorbjørnson.
Baarup Holmboe adds: ‘3D software can generate formulas for CNC machines, while our whole process is enriched by using digital tools. Whether you get better designs with 3D software and other digital tools is an ongoing discussion. I used to be quite sceptical about the use of computers in my work, but the bottom line is it’s cheaper for our clients when we use computers. We should still preserve physical prototypes of all our work though.’
Using pen and paper followed by 3D tools and digital equipment is valuable. Spant Studio uses each method to its best advantage, consolidating the results to meet clients’ needs.
‘It’s vital for our relationship with our client that we begin to match their expectations regarding visualisations early on. For example, if you show the client a digital rendering, they can notice and pay too much attention to minor details, such as the colour of the bricks or whatever. But showing them a lively hand-drawn sketch is sometimes a better way to sell a specific idea, because the sketch is better at summarising a certain feeling, ambience or even a vision for a new project,’ concludes Thorbjørnson.