How does sketching play a crucial role during the initial stages of design when the concept is being conceived?

“Sketching is at the core of our design process. We use sketching as a way to explore multiple design options quickly and efficiently and identify those ideas that work, and as importantly, those that don’t. When we sketch, we’re allowing for possibilities that were previously unimagined.”

Do you think it is important to use hand sketches throughout the entire design process or just initial and why?

“Sketching is a form of “visual thinking” and is useful anytime. We sketch throughout the design process from initial concepts, details and even during construction. Sketching is a fundamental form of communication for designers.”

How does sketching aid in the process of discovering the best ideas and solutions to a design problem?

“The great thing about sketching is the freedom it affords. Because it is such a fluid medium, it allows us to reach deep into the well of creativity and explore possibilities without feeling constrained to any particular outcome. With multiple options on the table in the form of quick sketches, we are able to more effectively evaluate and identify design solutions.”

Do you believe that a sketch can help evaluate the feasibility of features and eliminate layout and functionality issues? How?

“I think of sketching as a way to illustrate relationships, both functional, and aesthetic. When I sketch a floor plan for instance, I add lots of arrows and notes. These arrows and notes identify a variety of things: access points, views, connections, movement etc. When we diagram plans like this, we are able to solve a multitude of functional and operational challenges.

How does the ability to quickly sketch out ideas affect the design process?

“Because sketching is so fast, we are able to study multiple design options in a fraction of the time other methods take. A sketch is shorthand for an idea. It’s a form of rapid prototyping. When we sketch, we begin to see, and that seeing is at the core of design. Finding optimal design solutions requires the ability to set aside preconceived notions and allow for the unexpected. In this way, sketching is fundamental to the design process.”

Being that we are in a very tech-savvy industry, how do you get our clients to see the value in it?

“I’ve found that our clients are very interested in our process, and are particularly fascinated with hand-drawn sketches. Part of that has to do with the fact that they don’t see sketching in practice that often, so there is a bit of novelty and nostalgia there. But more importantly, our clients realize they are getting better solutions through our approach that uses analog conceptualization and ideation combined with cutting-edge digital technology. That powerful combination produces value in the eyes of our clients, and by extension, the users of the buildings we design.”

Craig Stoffel, AIA | Director of Design