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Workplace furniture design: the Danish way

Ten years ago, Icons of Denmark established itself as a distributor of Danish furniture for the U.K. market. Since then, they’ve been hard at work evolving from representatives of Danish design to creators of it. Through their unique market-led approach, they’re bringing Danish design to the modern office…one sleek sofa at a time. 

Tell us about Icons of Denmark’s background. 

Icons of Denmark started as quite a traditional furniture agency, representing Danish furniture brands for the U.K. market. We’ve always had a hands-on approach to representing furniture and pride ourselves on being very knowledgeable about our products. We have a high level of technical know-how for how the furniture can be used, what sorts of applications the furniture has, and certain activities in an office where the furniture has relevance. 

That approach led us into product design and manufacturing. We’ve taken what we’ve learned in the market and now work with Danish designers to come up with new furniture  for the modern office. 

We engage with an international client base who we keep up-to-date with Danish design and furniture through products we produce. Our projects are primarily large-scale commercial projects.


BANK provides a multitude of combinations including a corner module to fit different patterns of space, function and interaction.

How did you transition from representatives of Danish design to creators of it? 

When the furniture designers we represented decided to launch new products, we were required to go out to the market and sell. This work didn’t always reflect what we thought of the product and it’s usability in the marketplace…which got a bit old for us. 

In 2016, we took the first steps to create our first product. We were able to brief a Danish designer and manufacturer on how we wanted a sofa to be made, which became the first example of how we create furniture today. 

How is your approach to creating new products unique?

The way we design furniture today is extremely market led. When we got started, there was a lot of residential products being brought to the workplace environment. Contrastingly, we consider specific workplace needs and create designs based around those.

Our process starts with identifying gaps in the market: we notice a certain need or an area of a project that we repeatedly don’t have the right products for. We bring that brief back and collaborate with designers and manufacturers to come up with the new product. That’s what sets us apart from many other firms. We are in no way led by product designers. We are led by the needs of interior designers and clients. 


The Private High Back addresses privacy for commercial interiors, providing a space to focus and host informal meetings – without the need for partitioning or room division.

For example, the most recent area we identified is banquet seating. Banquet seating is something that is often designed bespoke for each project. We identified this as an area for a new product. Since we have become very experienced in sofa making and upholstery work, we decided to dip into this category. 

To create this new type of sofa, we started drafting in 2D first, agreeing on certain dimensions and concepts. This was then further developed as a 3D model that was eventually built at our workshop in Denmark. 

After we create a prototype, we go back to the drawing board to refine the 3D model and finalise the piece—working out the final details such as stitching and leg position. This is the process we used for our new product, BANK, which we debuted at Clerkenwell Design Week this year.


Another variation of the BANK sofa. A highly customisable and comfortable solution

What was your first experience using SketchUp?

My first encounter with the product was in 2007 selling furniture for a Danish manufacturer. I came across the software through an architect. I was quite excited about it so I started promoting the tool among furniture dealers as a potential tool they could configure our products in. 

When I moved to London in 2009, one of the first things I did was to upload our models to 3D Warehouse and start using the platform as an integral part of our selling process. The user friendly aspect of 3D Warehouse and SketchUp Pro itself enabled me to convert all of our DWGs into SKP files and make them more publicly available. 

We quickly found that we were gaining a huge following and considerable number of downloads on these products. Ten years later we are still using the platform to upload and share our models.  

SketchUp is a tool that we use in three different categories of our business: product design, configuration, and interior design.  

Can you talk about your showroom and the products in it. Were any of these designed in SketchUp?

We work with many product designers. At the moment, we are working with one designer who develops his designs in SketchUp, Peter Barreth. Trained as an upholsterer and sofa builder, he is a self-taught user of the product. of SketchUp is a tool that he has found convenient and fast to work with. 

The Private Sofa was one of the first solutions created under the Icons of Denmark brand by Peter. That product was based on a few very basic principles about comfort, seat height and flexibility of sizing. The process started with 2D drafting. 3D models were created in SketchUp from those initial ideas. Once the first prototype was built in Denmark, we sent it to our showroom in London


Striking the perfect balance between soft lounge and casual dining seating. 

We used that prototype to get market feedback and understand what else needed to be done to refine the function and form before we brought it to market. It was almost a year later that The Private Sofa was actually born as a complete product from our research and development with London’s commercial interior design community. 

Where do you see the most value from SketchUp?

Most of our product designs are available in various sizes and finishes that can be configured to a client’s specific project. 

When we started selling meeting tables for example, we realised it’s an advantage to allow clients to choose their own size. We can visualise and configure the tables from our existing design to match the clients’ needs exactly. This is where we use SketchUp everyday. Our ten-person sales team all use the product.

Since our products can be made to size, we communicate details such as positioning of the legs, the split of tops in a table and the integration of power. If the client wants a specific edge detail, we can visualise that. That has to be visualised quickly for us to get the commitment from our clients and so that we’re all in sync. Our table Forum, for example,  has a fairly simple geometry which lends itself to fast customisation in the product. We can redraw these tabletops very easily to fit the customer’s sizing.

We send those drawings back to our producers in Denmark when we are placing the orders. This allows us to sync very quickly with the producers and manufacturers before an order gets placed. That’s actually where we find the biggest value of SketchUp for our business. 

You mentioned that Icons of Denmark contributes to the interior design piece of a project. What does that workflow look like?

We’re very often being invited to pitch our products in cooperation with an architect. Similarly, sometimes we collaborate when the architect needs some inspiration for a certain setup and that often requires a fast turnaround time. 

Here, SketchUp allows us to play a part in the designer’s work by not just pitching a sofa, but actually pitching a full configuration of our furniture and visualising it together with our collaborators’ proposals


The seat, back and front of the SMILE LOUNGE can be upholstered in different fabrics allowing for endless opportunities to create a design that suits your space.

In this instance, we would be taking a brief from an interior designer or architect, suggesting some ideas for the space with our products, and preparing a proposal for the space’s layout. This doesn’t just show our individual products but shows how the products will work in situ on a larger scale.  

When it comes to interior design, I think that’s where some of our products really come into their own. For example the EC1 sofa is a modular sofa. You can play with the different pieces of this product, changing them around based on the space that you’re in. 

And this is just as important to us as the previous two ways I’ve mentioned we use the product. You want the product in a certain size but you also want it in a certain shape and positioning. I think that’s why the EC1 has proven to be one of our most popular products on 3D Warehouse.


EC1 is based on square modular elements, perfect for optimising soft seating in areas with space constraints.

How do you collaborate between different design tools on your team?

Aside from our sofa line, our other product designers work in SolidWorks. Regardless of the product designers’ workflow, this all feeds into DWG files, which makes it possible for us to work off of a format that we can read and make sense of quickly. 

That’s again where SketchUp becomes the common ground. We always ask our product designers who are working in SolidWorks to give us a DWG model. We can then work to create SketchUp models for sharing via 3D Warehouse or use ourselves when we configure or use the products in situ. 

For exporting, it’s extremely handy for us that we can instantly create DWGs either as 2D or 3D files of the products that we design from scratch. SketchUp provides us with a compatibility advantage across all of the stakeholders we work with. 

Where can we find more examples of your work? 

About Icons of Denmark: Since their foundation in 2009, Icons of Denmark have become known as the London home of Danish Design for commercial interiors. Committed to bringing the very best of Danish design to the commercial interiors market in the UK and beyond, Jesper and the Icons of Denmark team work closely with a circle of talented designers and craftsmen who hold a deep fascination for refined beauty, natural materials and functional design that the Danes pride themselves upon.

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Interiors brought to life with SketchUp by Louise Booyens

Louise Booyens Interiors specialises in residential projects in and around Cambridge. CAD system convert now Sketchup Pro user, Louise has embraced the world’s favourite 3D modeller with open arms. Possessing an instinctive ability to see the potential of a space and creating a timeless, bespoke and comfortable look for a wide ranging clientele, Louise took some time out to talk to us about the important role SketchUp plays in her business.

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background.

Hello, I’m Louise Booyens and from a very young age, I’ve had a passion for all things interior and an instinctive ability to see the potential of a space.

After obtaining a law degree in my native South Africa, I moved to the UK and completed a Diploma in Interior Design as well as a Diploma in Curtains and Soft Furnishings. I set up my interior design practice about a year ago after having completed a degree in Heritage Interior Design.

Where did your journey start with Sketchup?

I was taught Sketchup and Autocad during my interior design studies and, although I worked with Autocad while studying, I found Sketchup more affordable when I set up my own practice. I also found Sketchup much easier to navigate. After I made the switch, I got used to working in the program fairly quickly.

People are always interested in learning about the creative challenges faced by designers, so how does SketchUp help you solve those challenges?

One of the challenges I face as an interior designer is to get my ideas across to the client. Clients sometimes find it hard to imagine what a space will look like with the walls in a different place or the furniture moved around, so Sketchup is a fantastic tool to quickly visualise any interior space and present my ideas.

As an interior designer, it is important to be able draw floor plans quickly and accurately. Sketchup makes this easy and I love the dimension tool in Layout.

Does SketchUp help you showcase the different stages of a design? Assuming a lot of the time you’re starting with 2D technical drawings and plans, then turning these into models and presenting, have you a typical workflow?

I always start with 2D floor plans and technical drawings. These are then turned into 3D models with wall finishes, furniture accessories etc. after which it’s all sent to LayOut.

Is there a particular feature of SketchUp that you couldn’t do without? 

Probably Layout! I find it invaluable to create professional looking drawings almost instantly.

We’d have to agree with Louise. We still think LayOut is underused and undervalued. LayOut really does make it simple to take your 3D model in to a 2D space enabling you to show your client or partner that you’ve captured what you have discussed, and move the project forward with confidence. You can easily call out materials, lengths and details explaining the intricate detail of one model, and show real-world scale… all on one page.

Most used shortcuts?

I still only use a few basic shortcuts such as scale, move, tape measure, SHIFT Z Eraser, Circle.

And don’t forget these useful and frequently used custom shortcuts: M = Materials, C = Components, L= Layers.

Do you use any plug-ins or make use of pre-constructed models found in the 3D Warehouse?

At the moment I don’t use any other plug-ins., but I would definitely like to look into SU Podium for photorealistic rendering.

I do find the 3D Warehouse very useful, especially to show furniture layout in a 3D Model. It’s particularly useful if you need to make quick changes to textures, colours or other elements

Thanks, Louise. SketchUp is 3D interior design software that really does bring your ideas to life. Making the switch to SketchUp really has paid off for Louise, enabling her to create beautiful documents that get her clients excited, gaining their buy-in and winning business. Louise’s journey also illustrates how accessible SketchUp is whether your starting point is a hand sketch or a floor plan, for Louise, SketchUp just lets her get on with bringing these exquisite spaces to life.

You can learn more about Louise Booyens Interiors by visiting their website or following them on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook.

If like Louise Booyens Interiors you’re a Cadsoft Solutions customer and would like to be featured as a case study, John Quinn in our marketing team would love to hear from you. We’re particularly keen to hear from our SU Podium/WalkerRhinoceros and SketchUp customers.

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Accessing SketchUp while working remotely

Thanks to the team at Elmtec/SketchUp Uk for this helpful article on accessing SketchUp now that working from home is the norm for many of us. Here’s a quick rundown of how to access SketchUp and various extensions while working remotely. The Cadsoft Solutions Limited web store remains open as usual and our team are all working remotely but still able to provide customer support and answer any product queries via email or telephone. If we can’t pick up straight away, do leave a message and we’ll be back in touch ASAP.

SketchUp Pro

SketchUp Pro is available as Subscription, Classic, and Networked.

With a Subscription you / your ICT administrator has access to the Account Management Portal. Here you can remotely deauthorize devices, allowing you to login to your Subscription with your Trimble ID at home.

FYI: With a subscription you get Trimble Connect – a cloud storage and collaboration platform accessible via desktop, mobile, web and mixed reality devices. It allows users to share and access project information anywhere, with collaboration tools including 3D markup, task assignment and clash checking. Connect supports Autodesk, Tekla, and SketchUp file formats, plus point clouds, PDF, images, IFC, Microsoft Office files and more for collaboration across disparate teams and functions.

With a Classic License – the old-fashioned standalone license – it works slightly different. Here it is recommended to remove the license from the work computer first (Help > License > Remove License on Windows / SketchUp > License > Remove License on macOS). This will release an activation on your license and allow you to enter the license at home without any problems.

With a Networked license, you’ll need contact your ICT administrator and they can provide you with the activation codes so that you can temporarily authorise the software via your home computer.

V-Ray

With V-Ray, the licensing works in the Cloud. With the Online License Server you can also log in at home and use your V-Ray activations there! So make sure you have the login details at hand at home as well. Otherwise, ask your ICT administrator.

Enscape

Enscape has both Fixed Seats and Floating licenses. If you wish to use a Fixed Seat license on your home computer, you must deactivate the license on your work computer first. How you can do this, can be read in detail here.

If you are using a Floating variant, then the number of simultaneously active computers is equal to the number of seats you have. The floating license works via an external Enscape server, so you can also work from home with your floating license. If you have the license code at hand, you can enter it at home. Otherwise, ask your ICT administrator.

SU Podium

SU Podium only works with node locked activations of licenses. You need to deactivate at your work first, before activating at home. This is simply done via the SketchUp menu Extensions > SU Podium V2.6 Plus > License . Then click ‘deactivate’.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay connected virtually. If you have any further questions, just drop us an email: info@cadsoftsolutions.co.uk

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From furniture & fixtures to tech-savvy workspaces: Grammarly’s office in Kyiv

Leading architecture and interior design firm, balbek bureau, was chosen to design an entirely new space for one of Grammarly’s largest offices. This large, forward-thinking corporate space is located in Kyiv, Ukraine and hosts 150 employees. We connected with the lead designer, Andrii to discuss the details, challenges, and why they chose SketchUp for this project.

Give us some background on you, your team, and the types of projects you work on.

I graduated from the Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture where I earned my architecture degree. After that, I started working at balbek bureau as an architect. balbek bureau works on various types of projects. However, we prefer the corporate and commercial sector; though, we are not limited to a particular type of building or a specific style. In line with this scope of work, we recently completed the new Grammarly office in Kyiv.

Our design team consists of 40 people, including architects, designers, visualisers, and project managers. We work in creative teams where there is a team lead architect, architects, designers, and a project manager. In general, each team consists of three to ten people. Because balbek bureau provides interior design services for a wide range of industries, the creative teams are formed according to the specific type or style of the project. For example hotels, large office spaces, medium-sized offices, cinemas, gas stations, beauty salons, showrooms, “adaptive reuse”, and restoration projects.


The Grammarly team getting ready for the big design project. Pictured above: two founders of Grammarly and two Grammarly Kyiv project managers responsible for the project.

For those who are not familiar with Grammarly, who are they and what do they do?

Grammarly is a global company with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Kyiv. They operate 24/7 and are used as a digital writing assistant by millions of people across the world. Grammarly uses a plethora of  IT devices and utilises a high volume of communication and data exchange, both within individual and group settings.

What was the reasoning behind building a new Grammarly office? And did they have any requirements?

The Grammarly Kyiv team has grown significantly over the years and in 2016, they had outgrown their space. They needed to move to a larger space to accommodate all of their employees and operations. With that, Grammarly required a variety of spaces for different activities, including: 

  • A large conference hall with a seating capacity for 150 people
  • Multiple, smaller meeting rooms equipped with quality audio and video technology for conferences across the globe
  • Reception zone
  • Soundproof recreation room
  • Canteen for employees
  • Nap room
  • Several lounge zones
  • Restroom areas

Other requirements included eco-friendly materials, a warm colour palette with a homely feel for the interiors, and adaptability and flexibility of the space. Our team was responsible for the location of the office, office layout, interior concept, and all of the furniture, fixtures, and equipment.

Did you have to create different iterations of the design? If so,  how did you do this with such a large number of requirements?

Above all, designers are artists. For this reason, we developed only one design proposal, taking into account all of the above requirements. After that, the clients provided feedback on the design and requested changes. We made the requested changes, where it was needed, but in general, we didn’t create a range of design solutions, only some layout variations.

What was your design process for the Grammarly office?

We started by choosing a location for the new office. We had to choose between five different locations with seemingly different layouts. The winner was Gulliver business centre in the city centre. Since we didn’t have much time for the design project, the decision was to do all visualisations using SketchUp only, not using 3DS Max, as we normally do. We saved about three to four weeks using 3D models to get approval on the design with the Grammarly team.


Saving time pulling together the Grammarly program with SketchUp.

After that, the design project was delivered in short terms for all engineering work. While choosing furniture and decorative materials, we were also checking all engineers’ layouts and drawings with accordance to our design project. The construction phase lasted for about one year.

Did you run into any challenges? If so, what were they?

Yes, the design was very unique to the space, so we encountered many challenges that we worked through including creating an open working environment with two levels, a suspension bridge, a nap room, and incorporating natural light and other elements to create a work-friendly environment.

The original office area consisted of only one level and a mezzanine of 300 sq. m. To use the space at its maximum, we divided the office area into levels with a suspension bridge and connected it to an open staircase. We also expanded the mezzanine area up to 450 sq. m.This created a siloed work environment for employees. After meeting with the Grammarly team and understanding their needs, our layout idea was to have a meet-up zone on the ground floor where everything would be centered around and would make employee interaction a focal point. The meet-up zone was essentially the “heart” of the office and had six open-plan working zones surrounding it with soundproofing for privacy. We had to make sure this separated the working spaces but also allowed for a sense of “openness”. To do that we developed a radial curve to separate the working areas, and connected the first and second floor with an open staircase.


A high-level view of the radial curve and the separation of work spaces with the suspension bridge highlighted.

The nap room was another new design element for the building. This room had to be quiet and comfortable so employees could rest, relax, and recharge. We designed a space for three napping blocks. Each block had dark curtains to block out any light and a sensor under the mattress that would alert people if the room was occupied so people would not interrupt. 


The technology-savvy nap room for employees to catch some zzzzs.

Another tricky area was incorporating the suspension bridge. The length of the bridge is ninety meters, it loops around the office in a gentle curve, overlooking the entire office and expands slightly to accommodate rooms in its path. The bridge has no ground support, it is merely suspended from the ceiling. In order to keep the thickness of the bridge to a minimum, we passed the sprinkler system pipes under the main floor, and incorporated their fragments into the body of the bridge, blending them with the bridge’s structural elements.


The challenging suspension bridge that helped split up the original layout.

Other challenges included the use of eco-friendly materials. We had to creatively think of ways to reuse these materials throughout the office space. This also included a natural light requirement to help create a positive work-life balance for the employees and contribute to a higher level of comfort and efficiency. 

For the natural light requirement, how did you know how much natural light would help with comfort? Did you analyse this?

Guided by the knowledge of the environmental design code of urban commercial buildings, a perimeter depth of 6m, or twice the floor-to-ceiling height, can be potentially daylit. Thus, the buildings deeper than 12m require more artificial light. The Grammarly office in Kyiv is 8.8 m, respectively; therefore, we placed the working areas closer to the source of natural light and the auxiliary rooms deeper into the office where they were supplemented with additional lighting.


Incorporating eco-friendly materials and textures for a more natural, positive space.

Why did you choose SketchUp to design the Grammarly office?

We chose SketchUp due to the ease of use and speed. This project was under tight deadlines and we needed a tool that would allow us to work fast. Normally we would incorporate 3DS Max, but there was no time to do that. So we created everything in SketchUp—from the original design to the nitty-gritty details including textures.


SketchUp designs showcasing the Grammarly office.

What was your workflow in SketchUp?

First, we started designing the 3D models using measurements on site. After some work on the design construction, we moved onto smaller things like incorporating furniture, lighting, and textures. To save time, we used models from 3D Warehouse or from manufacturers’ websites. Our favorite part was the presentation of the model. We used cameras and scenes to showcase funny things, like a birthday cake in a table drawer. Also, we did not use any extensions. This was all native in SketchUp.

What are some benefits of using SketchUp in a corporate architectural project like Grammarly?

SketchUp allows you to work with a big, complicated model in one file, not dividing it to smaller ones. I also like SketchUp Viewer because we can easily present our designs to clients on their laptops. 

How did you manage the SketchUp model size and performance with such a large file?

Actually, it wasn’t a big deal. We kept everything in one model because the office had an open-plan layout. Based on this spatial concept, there were a minimum number of polygons, and all the interior details were in the separate files. The invisible elements weren’t included in the general SketchUp model.

How did team members collaborate on the same model? Were there challenges?

I worked on the general SketchUp model and assisting team members helped with the detailed objects in the separate files. It made our workflow easy and very efficient which helped with the tight deadlines we were under. 

Have you used SketchUp in any other projects? If so, what were they?

Yes, we use Sketch Up in most of our projects. The latest include:

Bursa hotel

4CITY

What’s your favorite SketchUp command?

“Flip”


More photos of the final space including conference rooms, canteen, lounge areas, and other workspaces.

Credits:

  • Architecture and interior design firm, balbek bureau
  • Architects: Slava Balbek, Andrii Berezynskyi, Anastasiia Marchenko
  • Project manager: Borys Dorogov
  • Client: Grammarly Kyiv
  • Photography: Andrey Bezuglov, Yevhenii Avramenko
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Designing innovative workplace interiors with 3DEA Bulgaria

Ivan Borov got the 3D bug at fourteen when he collaborated with a friend on a project using SketchUp and Google Earth. He was fascinated by SketchUp’s accessibility and technology as a whole. Whilst studying interior design in Milan, a short film submission that combined his love for graphic design, video, and photo editing won him a scholarship. 

During an internship at a large showroom in Milan, he realised colleagues were still drawing only in 2D. Keen to help transform the way they worked and improve efficiency, Borov introduced the team to the world of spatial 3D design in SketchUp.

He returned to Bulgaria in 2012 and worked at a furniture firm for four years before establishing 3DEA, a dynamic commercial interior design firm that delivers branding, and turnkey workplace interiors.

Tell us a little bit about 3DEA and the work you do.

I started 3DEA after several years of post-study work experience in Milan and Bulgaria. I had built up a network of professional contacts whilst working at a furniture company so I had a smooth transition into serving them as an interior designer. We typically work on large and small scale companies, helping to express their ethos, brand and visual identity within their interiors. We also create expo and stand design and signage. SketchUp is our Swiss Army knife that equips us to do all these tasks at different scales consistently well.

“SketchUp is our Swiss Army knife that equips us to do all these tasks at different scales consistently well.”

A key theme that runs through our projects is the combination of good design and build-ability.

We run a lean team, collaborating closely with other design professionals, particularly architectural studios, as required per project. We find that this multidisciplinary team offers greater expertise and gravitas for securing larger bids.

3DEA was a team of five for a long time until I became a father early this year. This major life event forced me to review my approach to work and to find a better balance. This meant switching from 12 – 15hr days at the office to being more selective about the projects we take on, and working healthier hours in a more flexible way. I believe that you produce better work when you have a balanced approach to life, work, and design.


SketchUp rendering of a workplace interior designed by 3DEA

What sets 3DEA apart from the competition? 

Our key differentiator is that we try new things. We’re comfortable learning through trial and error because it means that we might forge new paths. Making mistakes beats repeating known solutions simply because ‘that’s the way it’s been done’ over many years. This was an issue at the showroom I worked at in Milan, some of the veteran architects were still using the same workflow they’d used since they left university. It can, of course, be hard to try something new and fail, but it’s worth it in the end because that’s how innovation is born and good work is done.


SketchUp renderings of a workplace interior designed by 3DEA

Where did you train?

I studied Interior Design at the Instituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Milan. The first year focused on laying a foundation in traditional drafting, in-person surveys of existing spaces, and hand drawing. The curriculum then progressed from 2D to 3D where we were taught a range of 3D programs. I found that SketchUp combines all the key functionality of the separate programs which helped me to save a lot of time and struggle. To be honest, I found it hard to learn some of the more complex software and was more keen to design and deliver than be hindered by technology. I could very simply model my design in SketchUp and then using LayOut, create my 2D technical drawings. I struggled at times when my files got too heavy and suffered a few crashes just before deadlines, but I learnt how to model in a more nimble way, and I graduated successfully!

How important is it to ensure a workplace function as well as it looks?

Balancing function and design is a fundamental requirement of any design task. The current trend of ‘Instagramable’ spaces tilts the focus of many designers of my generation to trends and fashionable design. Time has proven though that the appropriateness, usability, and resilience of a design is what ensures that it stands the test of time.

“..The appropriateness, usability, and resilience of a design is what ensures that it stands the test of time.”

This applies to every kind of design; automotive design, furniture design, and architecture. I believe it is incredibly important to know what kind of material to use, and what kind of functions to integrate. Beauty is important, but in the end, it requires these other principles to be long-lasting.

How do you communicate the design decisions in your projects? 

I’m inspired by Bjark Ingels’ approach to communication. Every project he creates has a clear story and a narrative that can be explained and understood by anyone. To achieve this same sort of clarity, we work to make our proposed solution visible to the client and end-users regardless of the project’s scale. We tend to incorporate a lot of pictures, sketches, real-life models, and 3D drawings, all of which we collate in LayOut. Each project poses different problems so we’ll leverage a different mix of media.


Annotated floor plan of the AECO Space project. Created using a SketchUp model and generated and annotated in LayOut.

You delivered an amazing workplace for AECO Space in Sofia, Bulgaria, tell us about this project?

Our brief for AECO Space was to design and deliver a functional and creative space for their staff and presentation and training areas that could stretch to fit a different number of software trainees. We had an airy space to work with; large windows, tall ceilings and lots of light. These lovely qualities posed a challenge. Whilst great for staff, these features proved problematic for their daily work, particularly training sessions and presentations hosted in-house.


Reflecting the AECO Space brand through colour and material specification.

To create a more productive environment, we opted for blinds large enough to cover the expansive windows thereby addressing glare. This meant that we had to figure out how to securely hang the heavy blinds from the ceiling. The only catch was, we had suspended ceilings to counter the large floor-to-ceiling height! Using drawings and 3D models, we tested two visible and two hidden options. After consulting with the customer, we selected a hidden option that was then created and installed by a single contractor, saving us time and making the process much more efficient.

The original space was designed to house a bank so we inherited a formal granite floor that the client didn’t want. Fifteen to twenty percent of the budget had to be set aside to deliver the preferred flooring. Having a clear budget and roadmap for the entire project was essential to bringing in the project on time and within budget.

The as-built space is almost identical to your plans, how do you reach this level of accuracy during the design stage?

Delivering what we promised was easy because we employed a constructible workflow. By modelling the project with build-ability in mind, we knew that we could deliver what we proposed, down to the electrical plan and the position of appliances.


 Sectional elevation across the AECO Space office. Drawn using SketchUp Pro and compiled in LayOut.

It also meant that we could communicate the concept to the client with clarity, and deliver clear technical details to our contractors. Rendered, annotated and dimensioned drawings ensured that our tradesmen were able to install each element of the project easily. We did this with the bespoke floor tiles which had different colours and sizes, meaning that we could deliver clear drawings and ensure a smooth installation. We could also accurately calculate costs using takeoffs from our drawings and provide great guidance to our team.


Plan showing the floor grid, colour, and positioning of AECO Space’s coloured carpets.

Do you source real-world products to use in your proposals?

Yes, we source and specify real-world and bespoke items from a wide range of suppliers and contractors. On our project with AECO Space, we had about nineteen different contractors and subcontractors supplying fixtures, fittings, and electrics for a not-so-complex project! To get the best quality and price, and still meet deadlines, we’ve found that we need to work with the best. 

Thankfully, we have a selection of companies that we work with and trust to deliver good quality work, on time and within budget. We curate and specify products from this pool.

In addition to this, we create bespoke pieces and import unique materials like Scandanavian moss from Finland which we used to create the six-meter-long lamp used in a project with AECO Space.

What is your current workflow in SketchUp?

During site analysis, we hand-draw a plotting survey that captures measurements that may become extremely important later in the design process.


Scaled and annotated 2D drawings created for the AECO Space project using SketchUp Pro & LayOut.

We also take lots of photographs. Back at the studio, we transcribe key details from the hand drawings and photos into 2D drawings in SketchUp. Once all amendments are done in 2D, we create our conceptual 3D models. 

We generate images that the client can review, comment on and approve, and then we transition to technical 3D drawings and details, focusing on accuracy to ensure build-ability. Our models are data-enriched because that helps us with estimation and specification.


Bespoke furniture details drawn by 3DEA for the AECO Space project.

Even without creating photorealistic renderings, SketchUp helps us to get the client excited about the concept. Then we focus on fascinating the client with the finished product. 

When the client sets a tight budget, what tools do you use to estimate material and labour costs? 

We pull area and linear measurements from SketchUp’s Entity Info tab into Excel and use formulas to provide quick estimates for projects. Our models are data-enriched so that when the budget, specification or price changes, updated results can be generated very quickly.

What are your most used SketchUp extensions?
Make Faces saves me a lot of time. CleanUp³ helps us remove unnecessary elements and materials to make models lighter and easier to work with. We find Fredo Tools really useful and Round Corners is great for details because it eases the pain of manually rounding corners. I must also mention DropGC, Add Center Point (which is native to SketchUp), Fredo Corner, Material Tools and Vray for rendering.


Photo of the AECO Space interior. Designed by 3DEA.

Can you share the details of some of the projects that you are most proud of?

We designed a 3 x 1.4m all-in-one workstation with a metal structure for a 24/7 maritime surveillance tower which is in the Black Sea off the coast of Bulgaria. All the computers, equipment and wiring needed to be fully integrated within the metal structure. Solving the design problem was only a starting point. We needed to think through the delivery and installation logistics. Starting from a brief and one reference image shared by the client, we had six months to design, develop, and deliver the project.

SketchUp proved extremely important for figuring out if all the separate parts being made in Sofia would fit into the haulage truck before being assembled and then transported to Varna and Burgas. The desk’s home is similar to the leaning tower of Pisa and some of the pieces didn’t fit the elevator. This meant we had to simulate exactly how the desk would be positioned throughout the stairwell to eventually arrive in its final location at the top of the tower. This project was really tasking but satisfying to deliver and SketchUp was a great help from the beginning to the end of the project. 

“SketchUp was a great help from the beginning to the end of the project.”

Another project highlight for me was designing and delivering our bespoke aluminum and oak veneer lamps across three floors of a new shopping mall in Bulgaria. We collaborated with a lighting manufacturer called Prisma to create three hundred of them with dimensions ranging from 50cm x 50cm, to 6 x 4m.


Photo showing 6m long bespoke lamps designed by 3DEA.

Where can we find more examples of your work?

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The digital transformation in commercial interiors

SketchUp recently chatted with Michael Kanoza, a product graphics analyst in the special visual collaboration department about how Steelcase stays ahead of workplace trends to create spaces that help people work, learn, and heal.  Steelcase was established in 1912. Their first patent was for a metal wastebasket; replacing wicker with steel was a lifesaving innovation at that time in crowded cities where fires spread quickly. 

Since then, the company established roots as a top office furniture manufacturer. Though, they aren’t just any furniture manufacturer. Steelcase differentiates itself with its deep knowledge in the commercial interiors industry as well as its special visual collaboration department. This department helps communicate bespoke products before they are manufactured. 

Over the years, Steelcase has been at the forefront in commercial interiors transformation. Between the digital transformation and changing regulatory requirements, Kanoza has seen the industry grow and transform.

These changes have driven product design as well as the way Steelcase works with its clients. Instead of only manufacturing one-size-fits-all workplace furniture, they’ve had to adapt to custom requirements and consultation needs. In the office furniture business, there has always been a need to produce what’s known as a ‘special’. Producing ideas and communicating them in a quick, visual format for space planning software is key.

Trends, trends, and more trends


Image courtesy of Starbucks.

The work environment is more complicated than it has ever been before. People are working longer hours and in recent years have seen the rise of remote working. Some employees benefit from being in the office (second place) while others prefer to work from home (first place) or from a coffee shop (third place).  So, what exactly are first, second, and third places? According to sociologist Ray Oldenburg, working from a home environment is considered a “first place”, while working from a cafe or coffee shop is considered a “third place”, and the office is a “second place”. 

These “places” – especially “third places”  are starting to define the modern workplace, which has leading organizations jumping to remodel their definition of a workplace. With factors such as increasing business demands, longer working hours, and more remote employees to consider, companies are trying to find ways to help increase employee comfort, efficiency, and innovation. 

So, what attracts employees to “third places”?

“The ability to work without colleagues stopping by, lounge furniture with a home-like feel, the energizing buzz of people, access to good food, an attractive ambiance,” said Frank Graziano, manager of advanced applications at Steelcase. “Third places—essentially, public places that help people get through the day or allow them to gather—have been inspiring innovation and stirring conversations throughout Western civilization.” 

Employers who realize the importance of third places try to capture its essence by creating spaces within the workplace that re-energize teams and promote creativity and innovation. An example of this trend in action is Google’s new coffee shop that it opened on its California campus.

 “We’re bringing the comforts of home and community of third place to the workplace to make the office the best place to work,” said Graziano.  “When you do that, it changes the physical character and social experience of the workplace. It fosters a shift in work culture.”  

Connecting design to customer values

Not only are there trends within the workplace for employees and employers, but there are also significant industry niches that have spurred from this movement: custom workplace furniture design. 

“We are seeing a huge need to accommodate co-creation between the customer, dealer designer, and my department which handles special furniture for Steelcase,” says Kanoza. “It’s important for all stakeholders to be on the same page and designing for the same goal: the betterment of the workplace.”

Inherent within this is sustainability. In today’s conscious consumer climate, the care and rigor of manufacturing processes can be a major deal-breaker. That is why designers such as Steelcase take this very seriously and design specifically with sustainability in mind. 

“We believe that providing the best solutions for our customers begins by ensuring they’re the best solutions for our environment. That’s why every step of the way – through design, manufacturing, delivery, and product lifecycle – we consider the impact of our work on people and on the environment and uncover opportunities to make things better,” says Graziano.

Taking it further, they also consult with individual clients to ensure their proposals meet each firm’s sustainability goals.

The front lines of workplace transformation

Across the board, customers are requiring creative and cost-effective solutions to their special office furniture needs. The team at Steelcase conducts hours of research into office work behavior and trends in order to keep up with customer-driven demand. Afterward, the team determines if the design is even possible to manufacture. 

“We research the feasibility, viability, and cost for a special product and communicate it using our special visual communication process,” says Kanoza.

Customers who require custom products expect to see what it might look like before they commit to a purchase. In response, Steelcase’s dealership designers have to showcase their proposed products within floor plans using renderings and space planning software.


Image courtesy of balbek bureau.

Using technology to innovate

On top of being at the forefront of design innovation and workplace trends, Steelcase also utilizes technology to drive these initiatives forward.

They were the first manufacturers to be listed on the world’s largest 3D model library, 3D Warehouse, and are now one of the largest producers of 3D models on the platform.  

“We would save our CAD models to SketchUp and upload them to 3D Warehouse for users to download,” says Kanoza. “Today, there are thousands of downloads of these models. The 3D Warehouse was a precursor to how we now host SketchUp symbols on Steelcase.com.”

A symbol is a term used for a 3D model that represents a product. When a symbol is accessed from Steelcase’s planning software, it has data connected with information like colors, finishes, materials, and cost reports. This information is all packaged up into the planning software which helps dealer designers organize them into floor plans. Without these symbols, it would be difficult to plan office configurations with Steelcase products.

A SketchUp workflow

New technology meant new workflows and processes with the help of SketchUp. These processes impacted the specials product development process and conceptual design. These new processes require designers, engineers, sales, and quote representatives to work together on product designs – which makes the need for collaboration even more important.  

“We use SketchUp in this process. We use it as a composition tool, importing various CAD model types, and adding to them to create visual communication, ” says Kanoza, as he explains the benefits of SketchUp at their company.

Here are two functions that thrive off of the use of SketchUp in particular:

Design validation and application studies. This function helps clients and furniture dealers visualize what a new (special) product will look like when it’s manufactured. To help with visualization, they use 3D models of a special product and place them into the floor plan. This design validation and study establishes the clients’ needs before requesting a mock-up or prototype of the product.

Special design visual communication. This is a new department started by Kanoza, and where he sees the true value of SketchUp. Within this department, the team develops the special symbols of custom furniture pieces. 

“We use SketchUp because we need a way to visually communicate the clients’ request for a special-designed product. The special symbol represents a design that has been reviewed by an engineering and quote representative.  They conclude if Steelcase can design and manufacture [custom pieces] before we actually manufacture them,” says Kanoza. “If we can show dealers how a product will look, we can get them on board and agree to purchase it before we expend any engineering effort.”

This department’s ability to quickly conceptualize specials is critical to responding to their customers’ special furniture needs. 

“Even if we do not win the opportunity to sell a special, we save these drawings on a hosted website for dealers to use for future projects,” says Kanoza. “This is a powerful reuse of the effort. We’ve already validated these designs with engineering.” 

Since they have already gone through a rigorous process with all of their designs, they know – in the future – they can quote them fast with the assurance that they can be manufactured.  SketchUp is key to the success of this new department.  

“It is a cost-effective, efficient way to develop special product imagery,” Kanoza exclaims. “With the efficiencies provided using SketchUp and LayOut, we have developed over 10,000 models of previously quoted product designs.” 
They also get a little help from some top extensions:  Cleanup3 and FredoScale.

Sharing SketchUp knowledge around the globe

The use of SketchUp at Steelcase is not just limited to the United States. They use it across the globe at other business centers. Kanoza even hosts a global meeting where each region of the world shares SketchUp best practices. 

“The benefits I see are the interoperability of the platform, ease of use, and a fast learning curve. It allows all of our departments to collaborate on special product design quotes, fast and effectively.”

Learn more about Steelcase. Source: https://www.steelcase.com/research/articles/topics/employee-engagement/real-work/

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Architecture and built environment brought to life in SketchUp by Third Rule Studios

In another instalment of our series of customer case studies, we’re delighted to present Jamie Christensen. Jamie is Director of Third Rule Studios, a company specialising in creating high quality visual representations of architecture and the built environment. Here we learn about why SketchUp (and supporting cast V-Ray, Laubwerk and Skatter) provides the foundation for his company’s impressive portfolio.

Hello Jamie, we have been your reseller for over three years now and glad you reached out to us and were happy to be a featured case study. Can you give us some background on Third Rule Studios and share with our readers how long you’ve been a SketchUp and V-Ray user?

I am the Director of Third Rule Studios a Suffolk based CGI company specialising in the visualisation of proposed architecture and the built environment.  I have been working in the architectural design and 3D visualisations industry now for around 15 years.

I have always used Sketchup, even before getting into the world of 3D  rendered visualisations. When I first started using it I was an apprentice in an architectural firm, and to try to impress my boss at the time I learnt Sketchup over a weekend and produced a model of a development being designed in the office. I showed this to my boss on the Monday who was impressed and from then on I was the only 3D guy in the office and the other senior architects were asking me to teach them. I was 18, I’m now 34 and have been using Sketchup for a very long time! But I’m always learning of better and more effective ways to create 3D visuals.

I’ve been using V-Ray for around 8 Years. I started using it because the render engine I was using at the time was incredibly slow and limited and I wanted to progress and improve my images. I downloaded a trial version in order to teach myself how to use it, got the basics down pretty quickly and I have been using V-Ray ever since.

Why SketchUp (and V-Ray) to create visual representations of architecture and the built environment?

Sketchup is an amazing tool for modelling! Its very intuitive to use and enables you to go into as little or as much detail as you want. Sketchup is also a lot more powerful than people seem to believe and can handle large file sizes as long as you know how to handle them. There is a misunderstanding in the ArchViz industry that you HAVE to use 3dsMax in order to produce great images. I can use 3dsMax, but I chose to use Sketchup 100% of the time.  In terms of learning there are lots of tutorials out there, however I found that all you need to know are the very basics to get going i.e. line, plane, push pull etc and from there just learning as you go. 

V-Ray is an extremely versatile and powerful render engine. As soon as I learnt the basics I could get going with rendering images to a pretty good standard. But the more I used it and gained more in depth knowledge of it the better and easier V-Ray was to use. Along with Sketchup, V-Ray became integral to Third Rule Studios and the images we create.

SketchUp’s taglineDesign it. Make it. Enjoy the process – clearly rings true with Third Rule Studios. Is there a particular feature in SketchUp that helps you achieve what you need for the next stage? And what does a typical workflow look like?

It’s the speed in which you can model in Sketchup; you can go from an empty space to having a simple architectural model in minutes! Also, Sketchup’s integration with V-Ray means they communicate seamlessly with each other. There’s no need to deal with exporting and importing between different formats. This in turn means you know that whatever you model within Sketchup will be visualised with V-Ray with no problems. 

Regarding a typical workflow, we are approached by a client  to create some visuals, we have a discussion about the project and what they are hoping to achieve, how many images, who they are marketing to for example. We then come up with a set of preliminary “clay” images for the client in order to confirm that they are happy to proceed from the chosen perspective, lighting style etc. 

We then create another low res preliminary image this time full colour using the specification the client has provided. If this needs some tweaks we revise the preliminary image and send it back. Once this is agreed and the client is happy we then produce the final image which can be used for marketing.

You’ve already mentioned V-Ray, what other SketchUp plug-ins do you use? The external environment and landscape are important factors in your visualisations, do you use Laubwerk for example? Any other plug-ins you have your eye on and want to try?

We use Laubwerk for all of our plants and trees, they really are amazing and cannot be praised enough for the quality of their models and how they render and ease of use.

Also, Skatter is a huge part of our process. It’s an incredible plugin that every Sketchup user who is in ArchViz should have in their arsenal. It’s great for grass, gravel, plants etc, basically anything you need to spread over a surface but also have full control over.

In terms of other plugins I have my eye on, it would be great if Chaos Group could do a version of Corona that can be used within SketchUp.  Apart from that the new version of Skatter when it comes out looks interesting.

And finally, thanks for talking to us about SketchUp and Third Rule Studios. You’ve been a valued Cadsoft Solutions Limited customer for a number of years now and we’ve never asked the question, how did you find us?

I was recommended to you by a friend who purchased Sketchup from you many years ago. They told me you provided great support and were very helpful. When I purchased my software, you were (and still are) very helpful and provide a great service.

Well, if your friend is reading this, then thank you for the recommendation! And thanks for being a brilliant customer case study, Jamie.

If you’d like to learn more about Third Rule Studio’s impressive work, you can follow them on Instagram, Facebook or visit their website.

Garden and interior designers, architecture practices to architectural visualisation companies, schools and non-profits, we’re always keen on hearing from our valued customers. If you’re a Cadsoft Solutions customer and would like to be featured as a case study, John Quinn in our marketing team would love to hear from you. We’re particularly keen to hear from our SU Podium/Walker, Rhinoceros and SketchUp customers.

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What’s New in V-Ray® Next for SketchUp Update 2

V-Ray® Next for SketchUp is now fully compatible with SketchUp 2020, as well as versions 2016 -2020. Update 2 brings great workflow optimisations & faster than ever rendering.  You can quickly & intuitively create your next stunning visualisation. Update 2 sees greatly improved workflow, making it easier and faster than ever to interact with your SketchUp scene, organise your assets, set up lighting, and render your best work. Next can now automatically analyse and optimise your renders for you and you can take advantage of many performance optimisations for both CPU and GPU rendering. 

WHAT’S NEW 

The latest update introduces RTX support, an enhanced Colour Picker, a new colour theme and a number of useful improvements for easier geometry and material workflows. Plus, it runs smoothly in SketchUp 2020.

Streamlined Workflow

DEEP SKETCHUP CONNECTION: Enjoy a natural, streamlined design workflow that leaves more room for creativity

V-Ray Scene Importer. Import any .vrscene file directly as a SketchUp model with correctly sized and positioned objects, proper texture placement, lights and proxy references

New toolbar. Provides new access to top tools and simplified UI controls that will make it easier to set up cameras, adjust render settings and manage scenes

Improved user experience. It’s easier and smoother to use your favorite V-Ray tools, including Light Creation, Infinite Plane and Scene Interaction. The tool cursor looks the same as SketchUp’s, and the SketchUp Instructor features detailed descriptions and animated presentations on how to use V-Ray tools

Unified installer. Enjoy a smooth, single-step installation of all the components included in the V-Ray package

Scene interaction tool. Get direct access to any level of the SketchUp hierarchy, so you can interactively adjust materials and light properties whenever an object is selected

Customisable viewport styles. Easily customise the way V-Ray items are displayed in the SketchUp viewport and hide them at will

SketchUp Colorisation support. V-Ray now fully supports native material colorisation. Make colour corrections on standard SketchUp materials and see the effect right away in the V-Ray Frame Buffer

Colour themes. A new “Bright” colour theme is now available so you can change the appearance of your V-Ray user interface

EFFICIENT RENDER CONTROLS

Click less, render more with new and improved UI controls

Custom output resolution. Specify custom pixel resolutions without bothering with the aspect ratio

Intuitive camera UI. Redesigned layout for the camera controls letting you manipulate the quick and advanced parameters at the same time

Redesigned render settings UI. Better organisation for the advanced render settings with new functionality added

NEW MATERIALS AND TEXTURES

Metalness. Added support for PBR shaders with its new Metallic layer of the Generic material

Improved materials. We’ve optimised the underlying shading structure of all scene materials, so attributes can now be added or removed based on your needs

Curve Colour Correction. Remap any texture colour values using R, G, B or H, S, V curve controls

Translucency. The new Translucency material can be used instead of the Two Sided material keeping the shader structure simple

POWERFUL ASSET MANAGEMENT: Streamline your creative workflow with these new features for asset management and creation

Asset Library Management. Manage assets of any type in an intuitive customisable folder structure. Quickly search through huge number of assets in either the built-in library or in any other library location

Asset Outliner. List and manage materials, lights, geometries, render elements and textures in a unified way and visualize shader hierarchies

Texture instancing. Map multiple material parameters with the same source texture to simplify the shader structure and management

Multi-selection. Select multiple scene or library assets as well as multiple toolbar filters to speed up your workflow

Cryptomatte element. The Cryptomatte render element automatically generates and stores object- or material- based masks. It’s perfect when you need to accurately select objects in post-production

Updated V-Ray Frame Buffer lens effects. Simulatereal-world camera lens effects with new procedurally generated dust and scratches

Colour picker temperature. The V-Ray colour picker introduces a Kelvin temperature slider, which automatically provides a corresponding RGB colour allowing you to save and modify a temperature value for every colour slot

Universal asset preview. View preview of materials, lights, textures and render elements in a single viewer. Observe how parameter changes affect the appearance of the asset in a specific isolated setting

Intuitive asset creation. Quickly create new assets in the Asset Editor from the footer create menu, outliner filter icons or form the library Create section

Material ID & MultiMatte Render Elements. Render 2D masks of 3D objects for quick fixes in Photoshop and other image editors

UI display levels. Use either the Basic set of asset parameters or activate the Advanced mode to list all options

Colour assistant. Choose the exact colour you need with the right hue, saturation and value variation with the Colour Assistant, V-Ray Colour Picker’s new extension

Proxies with materials. Import or create a proxy mesh asset and V-Ray will automatically generate a set of material slots, making it easier to manage materials

Partial scene export. Export only selected objects as a .vrscene file containing geometry and the applied materials

SCENE INTELLIGENCE: Learns about your scene and helps you choose the right settings automatically

Adaptive Dome Light. Removes the need for setting up skylight portals, significantly speeding up your workflow when setting up interior scenes

New Lighting Analysis Tools. Now easier to visualise a scene’s real-world illumination values in lux or footcandles

Automatic Exposure and White Balance. Once a scene loads, Auto exposure and white balance return the right settings, making the entire process point-and-shoot simple

OPTIMISED PERFORMANCE FASTER RENDERING: Render 2x faster

Modernized shaders. The internal shader structure used in V-Ray for SketchUp is updated and modernized.This improves the render speed, GPU Engine feature support and V-Ray Cloud compatibility

New Light Cache algorithm. The new default hash map Light Cache calculation mode resolves most common artifacts and is optimized and more stable when used in animations

Render speed. V-Ray now renders twice as fast on average thanks to a large number of performance optimisations

Optimised interactive rendering on the CPU. More responsive CPU interactive rendering when editing scene camera, lighting and materials. Preview Swatch scenes are also modified to resolve more quickly and use fewer CPU resources

Twice as fast V-Ray GPU. New rendering architecture renders twice as fast across GPUs with support for more of V-Ray’s high-end production features and bucket rendering mode

RTX support. Boost your V-Ray GPU performance with NVIDIA RTX technology

AI DENOISER

Denoising with AI. Use the new NVIDIA AI Denoiser to instantly remove noise while rendering and make close to real-time iterations

Denoised Render Elements. Using the default V-Ray Denoiser, you can also now denoise separate render elements for added control in post production

Quick denoiser engine switch. A denoiser engine switch is now available in the main renderer rollout. Switch from V-Ray to NVIDIA AI denoising without the Denoiser advanced parameters panel

Visit our store for EDU, Student, Commercial V-Ray Next subscriptions and SketchUp / V-Ray bundles.

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Combining a thriving career and a passion for creativity with SketchUp.

Featured by SketchUp UK in the summer of 2018, Gintare Sidaraviciute is an award-winning Interior Architectural Designer and 3D Visualiser. Since establishing GS Interiors, Gintare’s portfolio has grown and the company now serves an expanding global client-base. In the second of our series of Cadsoft Solutions Limited customer case studies, we caught up with Gintare to see how her career and passions have combined since graduating, and any advice she could offer for those keen on breaking into this field of work.

Hello, Gintare. We first read about you via the SketchUp UK blog back in the summer of 2018. An impressive debut! First Class Honours degree, awards and the establishment of a new business….. What’s happened since?

Thank you so much! Back then it really was just the beginning of my business and getting the opportunity to be featured on the Sketchup UK Blog was an absolute highlight. Since then I have grown the business a lot. I introduced a bigger variety of different extensions in my everyday workflow which helped me to create projects faster and more efficiently to improve my renders even further. I have gained more clients and built some wonderful working relationships. I have expanded my business into creating bigger projects such as architectural, commercial and 360 renders. And had an opportunity to work on some truly amazing projects.

I am always interested in getting new challenges, new projects and growing my business even further. Going forward I have a lot of new ideas and can’t wait to see what the next year will bring me!

You’ve been a SketchUp user for a number of years now and clearly SketchUp is an indispensable part of your work. Have projects grown in complexity and size?

I just learn as I go. Every project brings new challenges and experiences and I have to learn from my mistakes and learn new ways of doing things. The projects have surely grown more in size and complexity. I started from small residential rooms and now I am able to do full commercial projects. That has improved my confidence as a Sketchup user and as a person.

Working with Sketchup is an ever growing skill that always needs improving on every step. It is always a good idea to revise and review your skills, find the most optimum ways to work on your Sketchup models that work best for you and your pace of learning

To help you achieve the best results possible, what’s your typical workflow look like now you’re a seasoned SketchUp user?

I think it is just knowing what you need to do before you even start doing. When I receive my projects I instantly know what extensions and what techniques I will be using in order to create my model with desired results. Over time I definitely improved both in speed and quality. Although I recently upgraded my PC so naturally that helped me to achieve my best results faster! 

What extensions do you use and why? The ‘Render only’ feature of Skatter for example, is really helpful in managing file size and enabling users to render masses of objects. Tell us about the tools you use and what you’re interested in trying in the future.

I do use quite a few extensions. The extensions I use most frequently are V-Ray, Round Corner, Skatter, Curviloft, Artisan, ThruPaint. They help me to achieve my finest results when working on Sketchup models. The ‘Render Only’ option in Skatter is wonderful! I am able to work fast without overcrowding my model. Skatter is especially helpful for creating exterior renders, conservatories and any house projects with large glass doors. It improved my renders a lot!

Looking ahead I am very interested in trying Laubwerk. I read some amazing reviews and I believe it would be a brilliant addition to my plugin library. I am also exploring the possibility of getting Profile Builder from Mind Sight Studios.

3D visualisation is a competitive space and you clearly enjoy the creative challenges in what you do…. The ability to produce presentation ready graphics in SketchUp and iterating in 3D must be important in pitching and winning new business?

It is very important because without iterating in 3D there hardly be any work for visualisers. Today everybody wants to see photorealistic 3D images. On the other hand 3D Visualisation can help designers in so many ways for example show their clients the finished design before the work has even begun, spot any mistakes at a very early stage, experiment with different colours and materials and many more.

The main challenge is to get into my clients head and understand exactly how he wants to see the project and transfer his ideas into a photorealistic 3D image. Always be helpful in any way I can and good communication is a key in achieving desired results. When I succeed then both me and my client are satisfied and that is what I am aiming for. This helps me to win more business and make them stay with me.

Architectural, Commercial, Residential, 360 – what intrigues you most about visualising a scene? Is it lighting, structure, exteriors, nature v man-made? How does SketchUp and your favoured plugins ensure these successful outcomes?

I do try to give my attention to every possible detail when creating the scene. But I would have to say the little things is what intrigues me the most. A simple change of wall paint colour, different furniture material or as simple as changing metal colour from gold to chrome can have such a big impact on how different the design will look.

I love how quickly I can change materials using V-ray and the wonderful feature ‘Interactive Render’ gives me results in seconds. But let’s not forget about the small décor pieces. They just make the scene come to life!

Finally, in SketchUp Stories you mentioned a quote, ‘It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together”. Fast forward to today, you’re clearly relishing what you do.

Yes thank you I would like to think so. I love my entrepreneurship-life and everything that comes with it. Being self-employed and my own boss has its rewards. However, having to run a business alone can get overwhelming and lonely at times but I am very happy that I met so many wonderful designers and people that I get to work with and having to do that from the comfort of my own home that is just a cherry on top. I love everything that I achieved already and I know that I still have a long way to go and I am very excited about the journey ahead.

What advice would you give someone embarking on studies with a view to entering this industry? 

It is a very competitive market out there but living in a digital age there are so many helpful information and resources that can be found online. Many groups with great people that are ready to help you at any step of the way and courses that can be taken to enhance your skills. And today with so many opportunities to do things remotely you can start embarking this industry in an instant. You only need to have the drive and passion to start and good things will follow.  

Is it important to you to have a good relationship with your reseller? Cadsoft Solutions Limited is here not just to sell software, but to support end users and ensure they get the best out of their investment.

Cadsoft Solutions Limited are always very helpful, understanding and very supportive. Having a good working relationship with a reseller is very important and can make your life so much easier. I value everything that Cadsoft Solutions brings and enjoy working with them.

If you’d like to learn more about Gintare’s impressive work, you can follow her on Instagram or visit her website: www.gsinteriors.co.uk

From colleges to non-profits, architecture practices to architectural visualisation companies, we’re always keen on hearing how our customers use SketchUp (or Rhino, Enscape, V-Ray or Podium you name it!). If you’re a Cadsoft Solutions customer and would like to be featured as a customer case study, drop John Quinn in our marketing team a line and we can go from there. We’re particularly keen to hear from our SU Podium/Walker and SketchUp customers.

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SketchUp 2020 is here and there’s a lot to be excited about!

The team at Trimble spent a lot of time in 2019 learning more about what you, the user, wish SketchUp did better. So…thanks for speaking up! You helped them discover what you need to improve your workflow. 

The result? Some exciting improvements in SketchUp 2020. Read on to learn more.

SketchUp Pro 2020: your 3D creative space

Introducing Outliner
A BIG model organisation change: Outliner. In an effort to increase model performance, you no longer have to create Layers upon Layers. Manage and organise your model straight within Outliner. Use the friendly eyeball icon to toggle between the major sections of your model, such as main floor plans and furniture. Check out the video below to learn more about how to use it.

Now, in SketchUp 2020, you can toggle visibility too! Check it out in this new SketchUp 2020 Quick Win to learn more.

New grips on bounding boxes
When you grab a point that is obscured in an object (such as a back corner or centre point) and start to move it, your object will automatically go transparent when something in your model interferes with the object you are moving. This works with both the Rotate tool and Move tool. This will literally ‘transform’ your workflow. Don’t take our word for it: start positioning objects in hard to reach places to see what happens!

Better control of hidden objects
You’ll notice in your drop-down menu that we separated hiding objects from hiding geometry. How will this change your workflow? Well, this will give you the ability to better manage hidden geometry and hidden objects for an even easier modelling experience. For example, let’s say you want to edit hidden edges in a landscape or smoothed surface, but you still want to be able to hide objects that are nearby (like trees, bushes, or a building)…well you can do that now!

Updates to your SketchUp dictionary 
We have a few updates to the naming conventions we use when talking about SketchUp. This won’t change your workflow…but we want to make sure you know we are saying a few things differently now. 

Here’s the run-down! Objects are now a collective term for: groups, components, and dynamic components. This just means we don’t have to say “groups (slash) components” anymore. Also, Layers are now referred to as “Tags”. Keep in mind that these two terms are merely naming conventions and won’t influence your workflow. 

LayOut 2020: document control

It’s all about taking back control…document control that is! The focus for LayOut was on improving the interaction between SketchUp & LayOut to save you time and [brain] energy. This means way less back and forth in SketchUp updating scenes to ensure your drawing comes out perfectly. Now you have more editing ability, directly in LayOut.

 

More power to adjust model views
LayOut now understands a lot more about your SketchUp model and what you’ve overridden. This means you can safely change a style or camera angle directly in LayOut without accidentally losing your changes (!!). 

How do you know what’s different in your LayOut viewport versus your model? When you make changes in LayOut, parts of the menu bar will go dark grey, alerting you that you’ve made an override. Keep in mind: just because you made some changes in LayOut, doesn’t mean you’re stuck with those. You can always resync your viewports back to your SketchUp model if needed.

Improved customisation of your drawings 

Take those LayOut docs to the next level with different models and views. If you have one SketchUp model that exists across several viewports, you can now relink just one of those viewports to another SketchUp model. Previously, you had to delete that viewport, insert a new SKP model, and reset all your scale settings and viewport sizing. More efficient now? Yes!

And that’s not all! You also have the ability to toggle Tag visibility — straight in your LayOut doc! What does this mean for your workflow? You don’t have to create extra scenes just for your LayOut files, saving you a ton of time going back and forth between LayOut and SketchUp.  Watch this SketchUp Skill Builder to learn how this will speed up your LayOut workflow.

Start using 2020 today!

We hope that the latest changes in SketchUp 2020 offer a few tweaks that will have a big impact on improving your workflow. Happy Sketching!

Ready to go Pro? We have SketchUp Pro 2020 solutions for business, schools and colleges, students, educators, non-profits and charities.

Want to test out the new features? Try SketchUp free for 30 days.

Buy SketchUp here. 

Please note, these new features are available to users with an active SketchUp Pro and SketchUp Studio subscription as well as Classic license holders that are active with Maintenance & Support. Updated learning resources will be displayed in the welcome window of SketchUp Pro for Desktop and LayOut.