Select Interiors

Seeing Through the Hand: Why Drawing Remains Relevant in the Design Process



Drawings and sketches, perhaps during lunch with a colleague on a paper napkin to illustrate an idea. We’ve all done it, so why is it the exception not the norm in design today?

Universities and colleges have, for the most part, stopped teaching hand drawing, so students don’t regard it as an integral part of the creative process. Now that computers can create just about any virtual and real-looking environment, drawing is perceived as old-fashioned and slow. Contemporary culture pushes us to celebrate the newest approaches and the latest devices and software. This is unfortunate, because while drawing currently resides on the “out” list, it should be a go-to tool for all designers. Instead it’s become the refuge of senior designers, who still appreciate drawing’s capacity to illustrate and fan the creative spark

There is a well know anecdote about MD of Allied London agreeing to a £650,000.00 development which was sketched on a napkin by Manchester designer Paul Danson for the Oast House in Spinningfields.

Sketch detail of Café & Breakout for City Airport in London by Select Interiors Ltd

Early stages of the design process can and should be messy. It’s important to churn through many prototypes as you see what ideas emerge. During a client brief and meeting, as ideas are discussed I sketch them. In these dynamic sessions, the real-time reaction and input moves the conversation and creative process at speeds not possible with computer drawings. Away from our offices and their sophisticated rendering software, with just a black felt-tip pen, I can demonstrate multiple design options to clients.

Hand-drawn concept sketches engage the group and spark discussion. When I talk about a concept using a sketch, the passion, mood and feeling communicated by the image complements the emotion of my voice. This builds a stronger connection between the design and the customer. That connection always trumps technology.


Journey through an interior design project at City Airport in London

Drawing connects with people at an emotional level. This series of sketches quickly travelled from my imagination, to hand & paper, allowing clients to see the journey through my eyes. The same views generated by the computer would not impart the same emotional responses or convey my point of view as effectively


Sketch of Reception are for clients Shoot The Moon and Newrest Ltd for City Airport in London

Even the simple act of tracing holds tangible value. The above picture might make you want to laugh, but using trace paper over a screen allows iterate options at lightning speed. Especially in the early design stages, time is of the essence. Only the hand can keep pace with the thought process.

Mood boards are also a useful tool to illustrate how the finishes proposed will look in site see below images of mood boards by Select Interiors Offices Designers and Fitters Manchester for a property company in Gateshead and a recruitment company in Altrincham. 

Case Studies for the project at City Airport completed by Select Interiors for Rapport People Agency & Mediacom 

Technology has its place in the creative journey. Consider the excerpts from a 3D model below which helped illustrate the concept and evolution. 3D models like the example below for Strategic People are useful as tools after the initial looser drawings / sketch studies

We humans yearn for authenticity. A design process that starts with the hand, akin to the first brush strokes on a canvas, humanises the process and establishes a strong foundation for the later stages where computer generated precision takes precedence. So, whilst drawing is the first stage of the process, technology also plays a leading role. But starting at a computer would be like putting the cart before the horse


The Old Post Office


3D Model presentation, the client could virtually walk through the model

Image of the same space fitted out with short lead time by Select Interiors Ltd on 5th floor Tower 12 in Spinningfields for Strategic People 

The scheme incorporated vintage furniture and lighting with a workbench for a Credenza and bespoke boardroom and meeting tables with reclaimed timber tops. Reclaimed timber flooring laid at 45 degrees and bespoke wall feature with Fluorescent tubes, stand- off acrylic logo / lettering and reclaimed flooring for a truly bespoke and unique office fit by Select Interiors Manchester office furniture and fit out specialists

Just wanted to say a massive thank you and congratulations to you and the team for NAILING the new office!


I will write you a blog/testimonial at some point in the next few weeks, but just wanted to say a personal thank you.  It was wonderful to see the vision come to life, the staff love it and the whole environment is built for success.


Well done!


Nicola x

The above e-mail was received from client’s Project Manager after completion


Images below of recently completed works at Altrincham, Nottingham and Manchester

After images of another recently completed project for Territory Interiors Ltd in Altrincham. Select Interiors completed a major refurbishment of 2000sft of corridors, staircases, kitchens, WCs, reception and Café. Works included flooring, electrical, LED lighting, sanitary ware, kitchens, decoration, refurbishment of wood-block flooring and tiles. Fire shutter and fire doors all supplied and installed by Select Interiors Manchester commercial design and refurbishment specialists

Completion images for a full set please follow the link

After images of full refurbishment of commercial premises specialising in small business lettings. Interior design by Kate Yates Managing Director of Territory Interiors Ltd in Altrincham. Scope included full design and refurbishment of classrooms, offices, communal spaces, corridors, kitchens, W.C.s external works, new bespoke Aluminium doors and entry system

Completion images for a full set please follow the link


Since the fit out the client has fully let all the empty spaces thus justifying the expenditure. Area Manager Jamie gave Select Interiors Ltd great feedback about what a fantastic job Select Interiors Ltd did and how helpful and polite the Select Interior site guys were

Select Interiors are currently on site in London and Gateshead for the same client undertaking major refurbishments of reception areas, communal spaces, atrium’s, staircases, kitchens and WCs to include electrical, LED lighting, data, bespoke joinery, decoration & flooring. 

We at Select Interiors Office Design & Fit Out Company judge the success of the buildings and places we design by the way people use and enjoy them – the clients who commission them, the people who inhabit them. Good design is about helping clients meet their needs and objectives. It is also about the way people feel when they experience it, a sense of meaning, connection and belonging. 

Talk to the experts about how an engaging fit out can improve productivity and well being to help attract & retain motivated staff call the Select Interiors design team on 0161 445 4040. 

Related posts

0161 445 4040

Studio 31a, Tib Street, Manchester, M4 1LX