3D interior visualization and architectural 3D rendering have become mutually connected. These new technologies have quickly entered the world of architecture and professionals around the world are adopting them to present their work in a better light.
Every serious professional today uses a modern tool that allows them to draw up models of their designs that truthfully represent their work and how it will look when finished.
Everything is getting digitized in various industries and architecture is no different. Powerful programs and apps allow architects to bring out all the details of their interior designs and give customers a clear overview of their projects before they actually start.
It’s still important that the architect has the necessary skills to present a project properly, but with these tools, the process has been made simpler.
At the same time, architects are able to offer advantages to potential investors or buyers and help them visualize how a certain interior will look, leaving no doubt in their minds.
The introduction of 3D technology has made it possible to actually capture the whole picture of interior designs and this carries many benefits. You as a client can have a look at all the designs in a single instance. There is no need to look at different rooms or sets of elements and try to put them together in your head, as this is already done by the designer.
When you picture separate elements in your mind, you will never be able to fit in a perfect 3D representation of the designs.
The architects create separate elements and connect them together so that the customers don’t have to bother doing so by themselves. Simply put, having the complete picture in front of you is very helpful and lets you understand what the project will look like.
With photorealistic 3D visualizations, the architect can outline all the small details that customers couldn’t see before. No matter if are talking about floor materials, plants around a property, railings colors or any other small detail.
This higher level of details and resolution can help customers experience the interior in a realistic way and let them see a clear picture of how it will look.
Photorealistic rendering in 3D has introduced many benefits to visualization and letting investors or customers thoroughly go over an interior design model. First of all, the CGI of an interior design can be static or panoramic. In the past, clients could only look at static renders that were limited to 2D and even those with 3D were limited in the number of render images that were exported.
Today, an architect can simply open up a project in their professional tools and have customers look through all the models from any given angle or any position they like. This allows the viewer to move around a room whichever way they want and see everything that interests them.
At the same time, they can move from one room to another to see how they interact with each other and how different elements of the design are connected together. This allows for the idea to be understood much better, while also allowing individuals to focus on things that they find important.
Skilled professionals such as designers, architects, and engineers have the ability to instantly visualize spaces by looking at 2D sketches. They simply know how to “read” this type of visualization and understand it to the fullest. For developers or investors who don’t have a sharp eye for this kind of imagery, this could present a problem. They might not be able to see the big picture.
With the introduction of 3D rendering, an investor is able to see all the stages and the tiniest details of a project evolving, before it has even entered the construction phase. This way, there is a great increase in comfort, certainty, and understanding of both the designing process and the construction phase.
When a developer is able to see all the progress step by step, they can ensure that the designs are going in the right direction based on their ideas, brand, or personal needs. At any given point, the developer can make suggestions, ask questions, and look for corrections. This way, everything is tackled along the way and the result is that the construction itself will be more truthful to their needs.
We live in an age where video reigns. Most people prefer the video format above any other. It’s especially important for developers who have no experience whatsoever when it comes to architecture designs and development. Naturally, every new developer wants to be certain that their designs are done according to their wishes and 3D video allows them to do this.
Architects and designers today have the power to create 3D video tours of the project in a realistic and truthful way. With this form of presentation, even people who have no knowledge of the subject can comprehend and understand the scope of a project. Developers can visualize a property better with smooth and high-quality videos and they can also market it better.
3D video presentations are a powerful marketing material that they can present to potential buyers and bring a property closer to them through a realistic piece of content. This level of visualization drastically increases sales and offers benefits to all parties involved.
Virtual reality technology has been around for a while and it has finally entered the architecture industry. With VR, architects can finally deliver a real-life experience to developers or buyers.
This is truly the best way of really seeing the design of a virtual space and experience how it will feel. With a VR headset, customers can move through virtual spaces, rooms, floors, office space, and the whole property.
The best part is that they can do this in just a couple of minutes. This is the best way that users can get a feel for the space and understand the scale in reality. It’s almost like actually having your property built already and going through it to see how it turned out, but with one major difference – there is still room to make changes and take care of every tiny detail.
With the latest technology, developers can also be given the opportunity to make changes on their own and move things around the property in VR. They can try out different things and arrangements on their own until they are certain of their decision.
If you are looking for quality architectural services, make sure that you find a company that does 3D rendering, as this is becoming an industry standard. Check what kind of rendering services they provide and see some examples of their work. When you find reliable professionals that do this, you will instantly see how big the benefits of their services are.
As an interior designer, you should always be on the lookout for resources that can make your life easier. There’s a lot of information out there, and trying to simply know everything is an excruciating exercise in futility. Better than knowing everything is having the resourcefulness to find information when you need it.
The good news is the internet has made being resourceful as easy as typing it in and letting Google do the work. But, if you’re looking to streamline your process, having a collection of go-to websites where you cherry pick all of you information, 3D models, product information, or furniture trends, is as important as your background in design education itself.
Not only will these websites make your life easier, they will lend themselves to allow you to create better interiors for your clients. You’ll wow people simply by knowing where to look for things (and look like a genius in the process). Whether you're looking for the next great line of modern light fixtures, or the latest trends in furniture upholstery, the websites on this list will have something for you to drool over.
Most interior design firms have fully adopted SketchUp as their go-to modeling program in aiding design and presentation drawings. The 3D warehouse should always be onen on your web browser, offering thousands of ready-made 3D models for you to quickly run through ideas and populate scenes. The 3D Warehouse is always growing, meaning next time you dip your cup in, you’ll likely come out with something you’ve never seen before.
Get familiar with the 3D Warehouse, and unlock the true potential of SketchUp.
Amber Interiors is a successful interior design firm who puts a lot of work into their online presence. Following their blog not only floods your eyes with current, trendy inspiration, but their business practice is full of good precedents for your own office to mimic. Unlike a lot of other design blogs, Amber Interiors offers a fresh, sometimes personal perspective on the work they do and the lives they lead.
Inspiration in the more traditional sense. Apartment Therapy is a giant in the design blog space, and offers web page upon web page of quality design work for you to start putting together idea boards from. Clients love it as well, and don’t be surprised if they come to your first meeting with a fist full of ideas they just pulled from AT on their way over.
See what other people are doing and then try to do it better. Inspiration is all about making it your own, and using sites like Dezeen to get the creative juices flowing is important for any design practice.
The great thing about Houzz is that alongside an endless stream of powerful design imagery is the ability to purchase the products you see in those images. Furniture, materials, lighting fixtures, appliances, and in many cases original artwork can all be added to your shopping cart and bought for your next design project. This, of course, can be a dangerous proposition. But, with a bit of fiscal restraint, you can quickly and easily start cohesive collections of items to populate your designs.
Houzz is also great for keeping your business current and in the public eye. They offer services to designers and contractors so they can put their name out there and be contacted by perspective clients.
Everyone needs a little bit of help every once in a while, right? If you find yourself in a position where you’re ready to start producing high-quality renderings for your projects, but don’t want to invest the time or money in having someone staffed full-time, look no further than Easy Render. It’s an online job-finding service that specializes in connecting architecture and design firms with talented freelance rendering artists.
It’s a powerful service that is incredibly easy to use. The best part? You won’t pay a dime until you’ve received the work on time and up to the standard you agreed upon when agreeing to a contract. It’s a free market that weeds out the bad eggs, making sure that no matter who you decide to hire, they will be professional, prompt, and affordable.
Interior designers represent a niche sector in the design, architecture, and construction business. They are concerned with how clients live, work, and inhabit the indoor spaces they so frequently occupy. Interior designers work with furniture, materiality, light, and color to establish a conceptual backbone they can then execute around.
And in order to best communicate their ideas, they lean on the ability to create believable 3D renderings and animations that give their clients information needed to make decisions and feel confident in their designer’s talents.
Interior designer software for 3D visualization has come a long way in the past 10 years. Even designers who’ve spent their lives bringing their work to life with pens, colored pencils, and markers are coming around to the idea that things can simply be done faster, and more effectively in the digital realm. The programs on this list are perfect for someone looking to make that transition, and should be considered in all interior design offices.
While not exclusively tailored to interior designers, SketchUp is a 3D modeling and visualization program that just about any designer can find value in. Not only is the learning curve as shallow as they come, SketchUp comes loaded with a vast suite of 3D models ready to be picked and added to your interior scene. Chairs, light fixtures, appliances, and textures are available to anyone who downloads the base program (which is free, by the way).
In a matter of hours, you can have a beautifully realized interior model to start reinforcing the internal feedback loop and communicating with your client to figure out what’s working and what’s not. SketchUp works well with just about every piece of rendering software on the market, so if you’re looking to up your 3D visualization game to the next level, look no further.
The perfect compliment to SketchUp, SU podium is the easy-to-use rendering engine that’s been specifically developed to work natively within the modeling program. There is a free version of SU Podium, but investing a bit of money into the premium version will give you access to high-quality, render-ready 3D models of just about anything you can think to populate your scenes with.
If you’re planning to use SketchUp for your 3D modeling, consider getting SU Podium a foregone conclusion. The two programs work so well together, it’d be a shame to your workflow and your rendering work not to dive into both. While Podium isn’t the most flexible rendering engine around, it’s one that can be picked up and learned without much previous experience.
Learning Photoshop might seem like an insurmountable task. I can see why. The things this ‘photo editing’ software can do boggle the mind, and make any entry into the program a fear inducing endeavor. Worry not, learning a few basic tools will unlock the power of quick and easy 3D visualization faster than you can say ‘Adobe.’
Photoshop is no longer simply used for post-production touch-up. Interior designers can use it to do just about anything a rendering program can do. Start with a basic 3D model (possibly created in SketchUp), then go to town. You can add lighting effects, textures, people, lamps, furniture, and just about anything else you can find a picture of. Get creative with Photoshop and the sky’s the limit to what you can do from a 3D visualization perspective.
If you’re looking for software specifically tailored for interior designers, look no further than RoomSketcher. It’s tools and interface make it easy to create basic floor plans, interior elevations, and eventually fully realized 3D visualizations. This free 3D modeling and visualization program comes with preset plans, or the ability to quickly create your own.
One of the most impressive features is just how quickly you can move from a 2D floor plan to a 3D representation of the space. Not only is Roomsketcher user-friendly, is just plain fun. Your clients will be impressed with your ability to translate their vision into something they can see on the screen, before they see it in their living room.
Planner 5D was developed to be the one-stop-shop for interior design visualization. There aren’t many particularly jaw-dropping features here, just an efficient and user-friendly design program that gives interior designers all the tools they need to visualize their work. If photorealism isn’t exactly your thing, Planner 5D is a perfectly fine alternative to fumbling around with more complicated modeling and rendering software.
And the results are good. You’ll be creating professional looking drawings and diagrams that do exactly what they are designed to do: communicate with clients. If this is your first time engaging in 3D modeling or design software, Planner 5D is the perfect place to start.
Building a 3D model of a work of architecture isn’t always just about transforming into a pretty picture. And while, yes, modeling does in many instances lead to renderings for the use of presentations, meetings, or marketing, there is another function of this software that, ultimately, is why architects tend to use it in the first place.
That function is the design process itself. Building a design in three dimensions gives architects information necessary to make decisions about massing, circulation, materiality, and the overall experience of the finished work. Without this information, blind spots can form in the process, leaving those components up to the experience of the architect and the saavy of the builder to successfully execute.
But, architects don’t like to guess, and neither do clients. The modeling programs on this list are the best for bolstering the design process and leaving as little up to chance as is possible when designing a building.
SketchUp is the 3D modeling program that every architect wanted before they even knew they wanted it. SketchUp scratches the itch of being a fast effective design tool that just about anyone can learn. And while many designers and architects scoff at the simplicity involved, there’s no denying the software as a highly productive design tool that provides fast visual information of conceptual work.
SketchUp is also free, and supported by a vast user-base of designers who are always finding new ways to squeeze functionality out of it.
While Rhino might not be as fast or user-friendly as SketchUp, it is the true professionals tool for modeling complicated works of architecture. It’s integration with scripting software Grasshopper allows designers to quickly conjur geometry-based models, meshes, and components that are anything but rectilinear.
Be warned: the learning curve is steep. Those who get the most out of Rhino as a design tool have spent many hours learning to to model with it quickly and efficiently.
Revit is a documentation program first, and a design-driven modeling tool second. But, despite this, it’s just that duality that makes it such an attractive option for architects. If they are going to be building the Revit model for construction documents anyway, why not use it as a working drawing and design tool?
Revit doesn’t have the speed or flexibility as some other programs on this list, but it comes with an accuracy of building information that moves the process along towards the final phases of a project’s development.
Much like Revit, ArchiCAD is a building information modeling program that provides architects and designers with a valid alternative to the AutoDesk giant. It’s a niche program, but with an emphasis on building things in 3D and making use of component properties to construct a model that accurately represents the finished work.
ArchiCAD also interfaces well with structural and mechanical engineers, which allow it inform design options that will be influenced by the necessary inputs of those disciplines.
While SolidWorks is a 3D modeler mostly geared towards engineers, it can have a very specific place in an architecture studio that designs a lot of specialized components and details. It is a highly accurate modeler, and one that interfaces well with rapid prototyping and 3D printing. Because of this, it can be used as a design tool to organize ideas in tangible, physical models without spending weeks building them by hand.
There’s a reason why 3DS Max is the most popular professional 3D modeling tool in the world. It’s a program that just works, and has the ability to quickly build highly detailed 3D models from scratch. Because of SketchUp, few architects use 3DS Max anymore. However, it shouldn’t be overlooked because it has the ability to produce work that can have a drastic impact on the feedback loop.
It works well with much of the best rendering engines, making it an all-around visualization tool that leads to better designs.
For the bold architecture firms out there, Maya is the daunting, incredibly powerful modeling, animation, and simulation software that allows them to do things other firms simply can’t. It provides detailed information about how building systems can work, and can build 3D models that can be used in experiential visualization.
This, of course, isn’t for everyone. However, for those willing to implement Maya, the payoff is represented by a wealth of helpful design information that can be used to move along incredibly complex projects.
I remember it like it was yesterday. There I was: a young, impressionable architecture student with a 24 inch roll of trace paper and a fist full of freshly sharpened HB pencils, ready to make my man-made mark on the planet. I sat eagerly at my tall studio desk when a disheveled 40-something man came lumbering in with a stack of unorganized folders and crumpled papers under his arm. He haphazardly slapped the folders on the table before looking up and revealing Costco-sized bags under his eyes and a daze I would soon know all too well.
What the hell happened to this guy?
Well, to put it bluntly, architecture happened to him. A life of personal and professional anguish that chewed him up, spit him out, and landed him in the only place a failed architect has left to go: the education system. It was like looking into the future - a future where late nights, deadline crunches, last-minute iteration upon last-minute iteration and a steady diet of caffeine and underachievement reign supreme.
This is the life of an architect. It’s hard. It sucks a lot. And I’m here to tell you why we do it anyway (warning: self-deprecation incoming).
There’s a famous quote from Quentin Tarantino masterpiece, Pulp Fiction, where mob boss Marsellus Wallace is attempting to persuade boxer Butch Coolidge to take a dive. Marsellus offers a last bit of advice: “The night of the fight you might feel a slight sting. That’s pride f*cking with you. F*ck pride! Pride only hurts, it never helps.”
Architects feel this little sting every time they think about abandoning ship and pursuing career goals of the less masochistic variety. We are an extremely prideful bunch, and as Marsellus so aptly puts it, it almost never helps. It’s an ailment that develops during architecture school alongside skills in drawing, composing, and making massing models out of poured plaster of paris. Pride is often the single most motivating factor for a budding student who would rather work well into the night then get laughed off the stage during their design critique the next day. People go through great lengths not to look like a fool, and in this particular profession if you’re work is mediocre, the world will let you know about it.
That sting only gets stronger the more you are exposed to the daily grind that is working in an architecture office. Late nights and perfectionism engrains itself deep into the office culture, quickly weeding out anyone who doesn’t adhere to these unspoken rules with stern looks and non-invitations to lunch and happy hour. You either worked overtime without a chance of extra pay, or you weren’t cut out for the profession. The people who stick around inherit that mantra and pass it along to those who come after. And it’s all rooted in a single, silly fear of not being good enough.
You know about the carrot, right? The thing dangled in front of the donkey in order to get it to keep moving. Well, the architect’s carrot is unique to only that profession because not only is the end result of their labor something you can see, touch, smell and feel - it’s something that provides humans with a fundamental necessity for survival: shelter.
This isn’t just an end game for most architects, but a grand purpose only a select few people have the skill set, temperament, and determination to pursue with any amount of success. Which I would actually agree with. I’ve sat in those rooms and done that job. It’s hard. The best way I had it described to me was to take eight to 10 flaming chainsaws, throw them all up in the air at once, then make sure none of them chop your arms off as you try to keep them in the air.
It’s a juggling act, but rather than chainsaws you’re dealing with clients, builders, subcontractors, code reviewers, city planners, your own ego, engineers, technology, the weather, politics, etc. There are so many things that have to go right (and almost never do) in order to execute a design it’s a wonder we’ve been able to get as far as we have. And at the end of all that headache is a physical manifestation of your work in the form of something humans have needed to thrive for thousands of years. There really is nothing like the feeling you get when you see a massive work of architecture you worked on come to life.
That is the great carrot, and probably the single biggest reason architects work themselves into the ground like they do. It’s a sense of duty and fraternity rivaled by very few other professions.
If there were no deadlines - no tangible light at the end of the design tunnel - an architect would continue to venture further and further into the dark abyss attempting to perfect some godly object of form and space. Thankfully, for the sanity of us all, there are always deadlines and there is always a massive crunch to make sure they’re met because the design will be changed, challenged, and refined until the moment it hits the presses and gets shoved out the door. Consultants hate this. Builders dispise this. Clients lost sleep over it.
I’d say the architects get the worst of it, but because of pretty much everything else I’ve said previously, they actually live for it.
As with any great artist, performer, athlete or entertainer, the highest form of their craft is what one truly strives for. This notion is not lost on architects, although the stakes are often much higher when money, jobs, reputation, and the success of a highly visible and publicized civil project is on the line. Being perfect or near perfect isn’t just something thrown around the office like a sand-filled stress ball. It’s a necessary bullseye nailed on the wall of the conference room that reminds everyone of why they’re there.
The pursuit of perfection is a fickle witch. Proceed that pursuit with brave caution, because it will either propel you to the top of drop you off at the local community college.
Architects are notoriously bad at delegating work. It’s one of the few things that separates the good architects from the truly legendary ones. I’ve been at very few offices that have an organized tree of project architects, designers, drafters and interns. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to know who you answer to, what you’re supposed to be doing, and how you’re supposed to be doing it. Getting thrown into the fire is a regular occurrence, and while that can be a great way to learn things the hard way, it can also be detrimental to the success of an architecture office.
It all stems from a universal feeling among design professionals that they can do things better if they do it themselves. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just what it is. It has almost nothing to do with overconfidence or elitism or distrust in others. Most of the time it’s a calculated assessment of effort versus time. I could spend an hour explaining how to do this to someone who’s never done it before and will probably do it wrong, or I could spend that hour just doing it myself. Of course, the argument is if you teach a man how to farm yada yada yada. But when a design review meeting is staring at you down the barrel of a gun, there’s little time to be handing out life lessons.
There are some glaring holes in the success of this approach, but if you’ve ever worked at an architecture office you’ll know it’s really just a dressed up room where people run around like their hair's on fire. At least, what’s left of it. It’s pure chaos but somehow results in an end product that is a beautiful sum of its disjointed parts. I think I remember saying something about flaming chainsaws?
But, at the end of the day, all of this is worth it to most architects because they are truly passionate about what they do. They have to be. No sane person would subject themselves to the masochistic grind that accompanies the profession. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun. And seeing those beams go up and those lights go in carries with it a sense of wonder and accomplishment that isn’t easily replicated.
For many architecture projects, the interior design aspect becomes an afterthought to the big picture concepts, structural systems, and value engineering that comes before it. It’s unfortunate, too, as paying attention to the finishing touches of any building design can make all the difference when showing off the architecture that was painstakingly fought to preserve. Many architects disregard interior design as an inferior service to the ‘real’ architecture, but it actually presents a very unique set of skills that should be incorporated and coordinated into the design from the start.
Interior design is much more than zany accent walls and feng shui. Wall color and furniture placement are part of the equations, sure, but all that is mere window dressing when considering concepts such as spatial organization, natural and artificial lighting, and detailed specifications that all work to reinforce the design of the architecture itself.
And that’s the real key. The interior design is the tuxedo tailor fit for the famous actor. It can never be at odds with the formal, material, and spatial cohesiveness presented by the overarching building design. It’s the most difficult and important job of the interior designer, and comes from a deep understanding of the design process and why decisions were made along the way. The architect, interior designer, and client must work closely together to flesh out a final product that shows well in prime time on the red carpet.
So, how exactly does interior design work to reinforce the architectural design?
It starts with understanding how the client plans to use their newly minted spaces. Once these basic concepts are grasped and developed, it comes down to lighting, texture, color, and functionality. Materiality responds to lighting and vice versa, so these aspects must all be balanced on paper before the final specification and design is sent out the door. 3D rendering and visualization has had a profound effect in the past decade on how we understand how a space will work before the design is executed. This step is vital to the success of an interior design job, and establishes a feedback loop that constantly updates the client and builds trust.
And trust leads to a completed project everyone can hang their hats on (sometimes literally). Interior design puts the finishing touches on a work of architecture, and can have a profound effect on how the spaces feel, look, and function. If you skimp on this part of the process, you might end up with a lot of expensive furniture and no real plan for how it exists within the architecture. This leads to confusion, and can detract from the design impact of the rest of the structure.
Interior design is an important stepping stone to a cohesive, finished architectural design. If it isn’t considered with rigor and clarity, it can have a devastating effect on how the project is viewed and used. It should be budgeted for, embraced, and trusted to give the architecture the coat of paint it needs to truly stand out.