1 – 5 : : DesignTools : :

: : DesignTools : :

Tool: : as defined by  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tool
A tool, broadly defined, is an entity that interfaces between two or more domains; that facilitates more effective action of one domain upon the other. Basic tools are simple machines.

When we think of tools, as we use them, I do think that the very word seems, almost, pedestrian…….do you know what I mean? Or is it maybe, just me? Tools, perhaps as we grew up hearing about them,
have always been associated with ‘the guy who comes, with his tools, and fixes the dishwasher – or, perhaps, the plumber, fixing a leaky sink. Tools, such as a hammer – a handsaw….the inimitable
screwdriver – although basic and simple, always seemed to be an appendage of sorts. I dunno – I suppose it is, just me…… I guess what I’m trying to say, and not very well – is that our
cognitive association with the word ‘tools’, could never be accused of generating an image of elegance…. now does it make more sense?

So – tools, as we have grown with them, and into them – as we have acquired skills in their use, as we have protected and maintained them – are a kind of afterthought. If I try to remember
way-far-back, to the very first drafting tools I used, I can remember them so clearly. The drafting table, of course – the t-square….various triangles. A scale, an adjustable set square
(I’ll bet anyone who has grown up in the digital age, learning CAD or drawing, has never heard of an adjustable set square….) – the drafting brush, eraser – all tools. Perhaps the most important
tool was the Luxo drafting lamp…… if you played with the springs and their tension (usually by brute force) youcould get the equilibrium of the lamp head set ‘just so’- so that, with a quick flick of
one’s wrist, the lamp shot to the other side of the drafting paper…… that was one way, in a drafting room, how you showed off your ‘coolness’……

Okay – I go on….. but tools, those silent partners of productivity – change. And, that is why I am nattering on here –

I mentioned it in my first post, I believe…..what is becoming, quickly, a revolutionary tool of our trade – in design-related work.

I’m referring to the iPad, of course. And please don’t confuse the capabilities of the iPad with all the other ‘wannabe’ pads/slates/tablets, etc.

The greatest beauty of the iPad is it’s OS – the operating system – which is of course, proprietary to, Apple. Not to be confused with Android, or with Microsoft’s desperate attempts to catch up…..
No – the pure elegance and simplicity of its uses and capabilities, is jaw-dropping.

Finally – to the point…..

I’m doing a small (in teensy letters) design job – really as much a favour as anything else….for an old and terrific client. I designed their house 25 years ago – the house they still live in.
Over the last couple of years I have done some upgrades for them – all cosmetic enhancements, mostly. But, S&J (we’ll call them that) have decided they want to do a complete gut and re-design to
their master bathroom. It’s a large space, as you can see from the plan. It hasn’t changed much over 25 years, and it is now (over)due.

In our initial discussions a few weeks ago, we all stood in the bathroom and talked around, and about, how they live differently now, than then. How, in his business travels, world-wide,
they have been fortunate to stay in the best of 5 star hotels. How that experience/exposure has helped to widen their ideas and perceptions – especially as it concerns the one space in the
home where relaxation, both physical and mental, should be better focused.

So – we’re in the exploratory stages – over the last couple of weeks I have reviewed the space – explored ideas, have gotten some wild and crazy ideas, etc. We decided that rather than continue with
formal ‘client meetings’,  that a dinner party might be in order …… us, a few close friends. All very casual. And, at the outset we might review some of those ideas I was working on…..but, how to
conduct a ‘loosey-goosey’ design review meeting without sitting around a table with photographs, a laptop, etc?

As I pondered it, I got it! The Eureka! moment…….the iPad! Of course.

But, how exactly? I had already sought out some fabulous Italian sinks – we had discussed the idea of expanding the walk-in shower and converting it to an aromatherapy steam shower……
I knew they already had a flatscreen TV at the foot of the large oval bathtub. And there were lots of mirrors about the space……

First things first – study the physical plan – examine how the shower stall might be expanded to provide enough space for the steam generator……. study how that might impact on her
dressing table zone – explore clean lines and forms. As I wandered through the net, I sought and saved numerous JPGs of this sink, that counter…..recorded web-sites with technical data.
How to put all of it together in one simple, seamless presentation format?

First things first. I uploaded all the photos to DropBox. Simple.
I sent myself an e-mail containing all the web-site url’s. Simple.
I uploaded my AutoCAD file to AutoCAD WS. Whaaa?

Of course – AutoCADWS…… you mean you don’t know about that? I’m sorry….go to http://www.auocadws.com. Register, explore.
It is another awesome tool – free – simple, also. AutoCAD files can be uploaded as mentioned, then using the iPad app (AutoCAD WS),
you simply log in and open the file you want to look at. You can zoom, pan – edit, mark-up – re-transmit to colleagues, clients – whatever.

Well -there you have it! Or, I had it…..

Went to the dinner party – six of us congregated around the island in the kitchen – talking about this, about that – about their recent trip to Vietnam.
Looked at the very beautiful photo book they put together of the trip.
After the oohs, the ahs – I said, ‘Well – I have some pictures we might want to look at…..for your bathroom….

‘Oh?’, S asked. ‘Did you bring them with you? Let’s take a look….’

The PRESTO moment! Yikes! Out with the iPad, hit the button, up popped DropBox – clicked on the images – et voila!
We explored the first, then the second – FLICK – then the third, etc. The FLICK is the magic of iPad……one flick, the next image slides into view.
Just like turning pages…..smooth, fluid – non-intrusive – and everyone could see the screen clearly…..

Next, switch over to AutoCAD WS – pull up the bathroom plan……with the iPad pinch, zoom in to see both the existing layout and a very preliminary
study plan……

We talked, we discussed – everyone had their opinions, their ideas – it was probably the most fun client meeting I’ve ever had. We all enjoyed it.

Lastly, I popped up my e-mail, hit the url links and we looked at the Magic Mirrors site – where a TV is invisibly hidden within a mirror…..cool.
We looked at the Mr Steam site – the drop-down shower seats, the steam generator, etc…..

Fifteen minutes? Maybe – at the most…….but information was presented, absorbed, discussed – all in the greatest social context…..and meeting finished.

Here’s a part of what we all looked at:

What you’re seeing here, in each case, is the iPad sideways (horizontal) showing the DropBox files in the left panel and the image to the right……
aside from which, they are some pretty cool designs/styles, wouldn’t you agree? My favourite is the second one – from Villeroy Boch.

And, following is the screen capture of the AutoCAD WS file showing the plan drawing:

Tool? Most definitely……and as I find additional opportunity and applicability for the iPad, I will continue to showcase it here on DesignPlan.

BTW – if anyone has questions about the how’s, the what’s regarding iPad, and AutoCAd, etc – don’t be shy to ask…..


8 Responses to “1 – 5 : : DesignTools : :”
  1. That’s great! I recently bought an iPad before travelling in order to stay in touch with client and figured it would be a great tool when visiting clients. I see a trend coming 🙂

    Thanks for the tips too! I didn’t know DropBox and AutoCadWS. I’ll have to take a look at that. How do you do screen captures with iPad? That’s pretty neat too.

    • designplan says:

      Well – it falls under that GreatBigCategory of, YaNeverKnowsEh? Spoken like a true Canadian…..but it’s true – you don’t. Trust is such a fragile thing – to be held close, to be honoured, to be a living dynamic in our lives…..

  2. designplan says:

    Good decision Marie….
    Screen captures on an iPad are easy and, as ever, cool…..hold down the power button and then press the bottom button – you’ll heat a click like a shutter. It automatically saves the capture to your photo group.
    Thanks for writing….hope to talk to you again soon. MXM

  3. The ipad was already on my wish list, but after reading this, I REALLY want to get one! Might just hold off until the second generation comes out…. Couldn’t believe how many people were enjoying their ipad’s on the subway in New York City last summer.

  4. Veronica Druta says:

    I was wandering if I could get the AutocaWS on my iPhone??? iPad is definitely something that can help in professional practice: it is practical, compact and a lot of fun

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