Essential Design Tools

What are the essential tools you must have in your arsenal for you to feel like you’re working to your optimal capacity.

My list (no particular order):

  1. Pen and paper
  2. Laptop (with internet connectivity, duh)
  3. Adobe Creative Suite
  4. CAD (pro/e or rhino for me)
  5. scanner
  6. Bunkspeed Shot
  7. Markers
  8. The email address of my model maker

On my wish list:

  1. Cintiq 21
  2. Sketchbook Pro

Pretty similar list, but apart from a few changes I would really add a camera.

  1. pen, paper, markers
  2. wacom (no cintiq unfortunately)+ sketchbook pro
  3. laptop with CS (no, not counter strike), rhino+solidworks, hypershot (would like to upgrade)
  4. camera
  5. scanner
  6. access to a workshop

for a bit of ‘luxury’:
7) an extra monitor for my laptop (mbp)
8 ) my power mac (still alive and kicking) for adobe CS when my laptop is in bootcamp doing CAD

EDIT: oh! and my mobile. How could I forget?

  1. Comfortable chair & desk
  2. PC with one or two big monitors (I prefer 1x24")
  3. SolidWorks, Maya, Adobe CS, iTunes, Outlook, Excel and Word
  4. Pen, paper, sharpie
  5. Camera
  6. Workshop or big outdoor space and a long extension cord.
  7. Solitude for 75% of the time. 25% intelligent feedback
  8. Core77
  1. 10% of my time in the field
  2. A couple of minions spending 50% of their time in the field
  3. Pen & paper
  4. Email/texting/phone
  5. Extensive vendor list
  6. Camera/video
  7. Shop & materials
  8. CS/CAD

I’ve been spoiled as of lately, my current arsenal of things I can’t live without:

1)1 Bic, Black
2)Desktop workstation, 8 cores + Quadro card for hardware rendering
3)Software: Adobe CS, Alias, ProE, SBPro, Autodesk Showcase
4)Monitors 1 24" + Wacom 21UX + Ergotron LX arm (regular wacom stand stinks for use as a monitor)
5)Large format printer
6)Humanscale Freedom chair w/headrest
7)Noise Cancelling headphones

Things I want:
-Full up machine shop
-Networked server farm for real time raytracing cluster
-Good DSLR
-Fridays off

  1. Core i7 Quad Core Nehalem Desktop PC w/ Windows 7
  2. Toshiba Tecra M4 TabletPC w/Sketchbook Pro
  3. 24" Dell U2410 IPS LCD monitor
  4. Canon Multi-function MX870 Scanner/Printer/Fax
  5. Mitutoyo 12" Digital Calipers + Rulers
  6. Rhino 3D 4.0
  7. Keyshot 2
  8. Adobe CS Suite
  9. Ball Point Pens
  10. Sharpie Pen
  11. Prisma Color / Verithin Pencils
  12. Mold-Tech texture standards
  13. Pantone color books
  14. Bond Paper
  15. Aeron Chair
  16. Acrobat Professional for making PDFs
  17. MS Excel for billing / hours tracking
  18. MS Office for proposals
  19. digital camera
  20. Blackberry
  21. Tabloid format Laser Printer + Ink Jet

My ellipse guide sets, Frenchi Curves, my big drafting tables, and several boxes of dried/dying old markers

Curious to try out as new tools:
Wacom Cintiq 21UX G2
Apple iPad
More portable TabletPC like HP ELitebook 2470p

1 ) Coffee
2 ) Brain
3 ) Pen & Paper
4 ) Music
5 ) PC with Sketchbook, AdobeCS and Solidworks
6 ) Budget for prototyping
7 ) Workshop with tools and materials
8 ) Contact list

  1. Desktop w/ dual monitors
  2. Adobe
  3. Rhino
  4. Good headphones
  5. Keilhauer Squig chair (absolutely love this!)
    6)bic atlantis/copic sketch/t3 ink jug
  6. Window seat (even if I do stare into the generator field)

wish I had:
Intelligent/useful feedback
clear directions
model shop
render farm

BTW: My list was ideal. I’m missing a few off my list at my current place.

A workshop…

that’s all you need

I’m more and more convinced that a great design is only possible when you try and alter your ideas in the workshop.
It’s so inspiring, albeit it takes a lot of time, failing and effort but it’s so worth it.

We make product, things people touch therefore you should feel them to :wink:



A good nights sleep
Comfortable chair (Aeron, Chadwick, or similar)
Fine point pen (uniball micro)
Grey markers and basic colors
Tecra tablet (really need to add a 4+core desktop)
Illustrator, Photoshop, Solidworks, Max w/ Vray (still haven’t moved to any Shots yet)
Full sized desktop keyboard to use with my laptop (essential for key command muscle memory)
Well calibrated monitor
Comfortable and quiet lighting (buzzing fluorescents drive me crazy) sunlight ideally
Headphones w/ music
Silence without constant interruptions
Quick sketch mockup materials (cardboard, foam, etc…)
A clear brief

I’ve also gotten spoiled of late, this is whatI’m working with:

War room for each project I’m working on
Awesome team (ID, GD, IXD, Biz Strat, ME and SD’s as needed)
Lots of post it notes, copy paper, and white boards.
Blue Bottle Coffee:
lots of music

essential tools:
pencil, paper & a nice outline pen followed by a scanner and any version of photoshop, It’s nice to use adobe freehand every now and again, but I can get by without it.
I have a bandsaw and pillar drill which I couldn’t be without- and a dremel, which is a joy to use. Round it off with a camera and I think I can do pretty much anything.

What I really need at the moment:
Space (which I’m rapidly running out of), time, loads of wood and patience, oh and lego, I prototype a lot in lego.

I don’t know exactly why, but this makes me smile. In a good way.

Good call out!

Looking back on this, if I where to go totally essential, all I might really need are paper, a ballpoint pen, and a good model maker.

I find it surprising no one considers getting in front of the customer/end user as essential.

I never consider my customers and end users as tools :wink: Essential, yes. Tools, no.

Oh…some customers can be tools.

Tanning bed customers?

Oh…some customers can be tools.

Best response of the month!