User-friendly updates to SketchUp Pro 2020

Based heavily on user feedback, SketchUp polished up a few features that will keep your workflow humming along smoothly! 

Freshening up SketchUp Pro

Scenes Panel. Now that you’ve had some time to enjoy better toggling visibility with hidden geometry and objects, this feature just got even better. Hidden geometry and hidden objects are now split up so you can select and save them separately on a Scene-by-Scene basis. You will see a new checkbox in the Scenes panel that lets you save the visibility state of hidden objects, not just hidden geometry. This gives you better visibility control per Scene.


Section Planes & Scenes. In the new version of SketchUp, you can save Section Plane visibility in every Scene.  Since Section Planes are grouped with objects, we want to make sure they behave like objects. What’s the value here? Before this change, only top-level visibility could be saved per Scene. Again, more control in your Scenes — and consistency across the functionality. 


Hidden objects are now editable. Editing invisible things might sound like a superpower, but it’s really just a great new feature in SketchUp Pro. When you select a hidden object in Outliner, it will now appear as a mesh. This means that you can make more precise edits to hidden objects with ease. Check out this Quick Win to see how it’s done.

Did you notice how much faster it is to work in SketchUp when Outliner is open? SketchUp 2020.1 includes a few performance improvements to speed up your workflow that we think you’ll like. 


Improvements to Grips. You can now cycle through ALL Grips of an object when using the Rotate tool — just like the Move tool! This provides a more instinctive modeling experience while switching in between the tools.

Check out this Quick Win from our 2020 release to help you understand Grips.


Empty object. Picture this: you are working up a new table design and quickly model a lamp to make it look more realistic — but oops! —  you did it too fast and forgot to group your lamp and table separately. Now, everything is glued together, creating editing reworks and wasted time.

The solution? Now, you can create a grouped object or component by right-clicking on an empty space. No more triple-clicking to select and then group, or drawing it elsewhere just to place it where you want it. Pro tip: you can also use the ‘G‘ shortcut to create a new component and speed up your workflow. (Shortcut win!)

One last added bonus! When you create a new component from scratch, a window will immediately pop up allowing you to name it. Say hello to a better model organization.

Check out this Skill Builder to see how to use this feature in your workflow.


Performance improvements in LayOut

This release focused on improving LayOut’s deletion and selection capabilities. Read as: they’re much faster now! 

Improved Select Tool

Make intentional — not accidental — moves with your crossing and window-selection workflows. Now, when you click-drag to create a crossing or window selection, you won’t mistakenly move anything. If you’ve encountered this, you know what we’re talking about… and you’re welcome!

If you’re wondering, “how do I move an object now?” — just pre-select an entity and move from there. Also, selections and moves now occur when clicking on the actual object, rather than the object’s bounding box, strengthening that intentional workflow.


Download the new version, play with the latest improvements, and let us know what you think. As always, we will be there listening, responding, and getting great ideas for new updates. See you on the Axis!

All of the 2020.1 features are available to Classic license users with active Maintenance & Support, and active SketchUp Pro and SketchUp Studio subscription users. Upgrade today to start using new features!

To Have or to Be: Everything you need to know about the benefits of distance learning

May you live in interesting times. The Chinese curse is extremely relevant today. Usually, the interesting times are defined as times of troubles but also – times of change, new choices and opportunities. Everyone is affected by the unusual situation around the world in many ways. However, the life goes on. Even in a completely different way than it used to be. Everyone is looking for the right decision. for himself.

So, do you prefer to have the knowledge or to be an attendee in a classroom?

We believe that this article will be useful to the people who choose to educate themselves and to improve their knowledge. The topic concerns also teachers and coaches who are forced quickly to optimize their teaching models.

Let’s take a close look at the Pros and the Cons of these two different education formats

The attendance form is the classic way of education. We all went to school, right? But as an adult this may be not the most convenient format of learning. People have different plans and intense life and it’s hard to devote a large part of time and resources to this kind of activity. Sometimes the reason is the distance, family obligations or job engagements. Or even quarantine. (Not very funny though…)

Usually, most of the attendance courses last a long time. They are expensive, because their price includes renting a hall, technical equipment, the whole organization and support. And there is always a restriction about the number of students. So it is not easy to gather a group of people with the same interests, level of knowledge and schedules in one place for months.

We must admit that there is a certain kind of magic in attendance learning. The social interactions and the power of the group is really something important. In this format we have the opportunity to talk to the teacher face-to-face and to ask our questions. The coaches that lead the attendance training programs are high qualified professionals dedicated to their subject.

During an informal communication with other people we can receive useful information about different areas, like health, cooking and cultural events. Usually in these kinds of courses the students are much more focused and committed. Maybe because they are part of a group now and the motivation is high.

What about Distance Education?

One of the great challenges of the distance education is to keep your motivation high. The students need to have good time management skills and extra focus, so they don’t drop behind. Some people meet technical difficulties or miss the personal consultations with the teacher. When it comes to assignments, there is often a lack of individual attention and feedback.

However, there are some quite big benefits of distance education. First of all, it is flexibility. Many online trainings allow students to watch lectures in their own time. It is very helpful for working professionals on a full-time job or parents with family obligations. Distance learning allows studying from home, coffee shop or office using laptop or other mobile devices. And all resources and lectures are available online.

Another advantage of distance learning is the attractive price. Online education costs less because there are fewer expenses to include. Usually, every online training has a community in some social network and the exchange of useful information, e-books and links is jut a click away. So the students actually get more and pay less.

Distance training could be the wise choice for teachers too. They have the opportunity to create a community, to reach new students, to spread the knowledge and fulfill their mission at a very reasonable cost. From their living-room.

Attendance Learning

– is more expensive
– takes long period of time
– needs a specific location
+ is motivational
+ includes the personal contact
+ boosts inspiration

Distance Learning

– require certain technical specifications
– demands motivation
– is more distracting
+ gives flexibility  
+ has an attractive price
+ grants access from any location

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Distance or attendance learning is a personal choice, of course. Now we have so many educational opportunities, skill courses, online lectures, webinars and free videos.

Everything is in our hands. So let’s just take some action and don’t leave the time just pass by… One day the world will heal from the current pandemic and the important thing will be – what person will you be afterwards?

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.

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 finalize 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.

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.

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 visualize 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.

The Forum Table series comes in a variety of table top sizes and colours for the frame and edge.

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 visualize that. That has to be visualized 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 visualizing it together with our collaborators’ proposals. 

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.

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.

Design at Starbucks: Brewing the right stuff

David Daniels heads up Starbucks’ America East design teams, overseeing over a hundred designers across New York, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, and Latin America. David and his team have executed over 1,400 major Starbucks renovations and new builds in 2016 alone. As well as being a passionate (and productive) designer, David is also a SketchUp aficionado, so I was thrilled to talk with him about his approach to design and decision-making at Starbucks.

Hello David… Care to introduce yourself and your team to the SketchUp community?

Sure. I’m an architect and the Managing Director of Design at Starbucks and I look after our teams and projects in the America East region. I learned SketchUp years ago from a guy from Kathmandu and I’ve been using it on projects ever since. As time’s gone on, I’ve moved more into leadership, but I’ll still play around in SketchUp developing concepts and carrying out massing studies.

The Starbucks design studios are cooking with SketchUp. If you walked through, you’d see about thirty designers working on different projects that look completely unique. We’re the biggest SketchUp fans; seeing my teams tweak SketchUp’s style palette to infuse their own flavor into the renderings has become a really fun part of the design process for me.

How did your team get going with SketchUp?

At one point I was working out of the Miami office and there were a handful of designers, including myself, who worked on high profile flagship stores. We used SketchUp for design and rendering, but not everyone did.

As a design leader, part of my job is to review and approve designs. I’m looking at a lot: this year alone my team has executed over 1,400 designs, and I have to review them quickly.

Some folks brought me black and white wireframes or two-dimensional visuals. This made me uncomfortable because it meant I would be putting my stamp of approval on a store, palette, or look that I had to try to construct in my head with no visual proof of how it would really go together. At that point we started to insist that everyone use SketchUp to model and paint in textures and surfaces so that I could approve designs with more confidence and authority.

The shift to SketchUp kicked off in the Miami studio where one of my senior designers led the effort. Since then, the Miami studio now designs more collaboratively, hosting a design charrette every week where they get together with their computers and a big monitor. They co-author five or six core stores in a day, figuring out the spatial design, palette and flavor, all within SketchUp. In the days where everyone was using different software, it was impossible to do this.

After testing the workflow out in this office, we got the entire Latin America studio using SketchUp, and then New York and Dallas shortly after. Over the past year and a half, we’ve been able to roll this out across the four offices I oversee. I’ve found that once my designers learn SketchUp, they genuinely have a lot of fun using it over other software. SketchUp has unlocked latent talent in our up-and-coming designers.

How does this get you closer to the finished product?

Our architects carry out site surveys and create the building shell in Revit. We export this model into SketchUp and carry out all of the interior architecture design in SketchUp. This includes refining the colors, materials, furniture, fixtures and fittings. We create a beautiful three-dimensional schematic design which we then hand over to our Architects of Record (AoRs). That’s what we give them to create the construction packages.

Every store is extremely special to our brand and to our customers: it’s their ‘third place,’ a space where people can sit and stay, or shop and learn. We aim to find the sweet spot between being brand-appropriate and being locally relevant so that the store feels right for that neighborhood, or the building that it sits in, or that part of the city.

And because the parameters are different every time, it means that each store has to be unique, right?

Exactly that. Within the stores, we have some simple principles that are really important for us. When we find a building, I think it’s really important to work with the bones of the space. So if the space has brick walls, or some surfaces that are distressed, or it has some great exposed trusses in the roof, then we want to celebrate the envelope, not cover up a bunch of stuff. This shell provides an envelope that hosts the hero of the space: the coffee bar.

“Where the bar sits, what it looks and feels like, the sight lines to and from it, how it’s lit, are all very important. We invest a lot of time into ensuring it’s like a finely crafted piece of furniture because it is the grand stage where we create “coffee theatre.”

Where the bar sits, what it looks and feels like, the sight lines to and from it, how it’s lit, are all very important. We invest a lot of time into ensuring it’s like a finely crafted piece of furniture because it is the grand stage where we create “coffee theatre.”

Your new store at 10 Waverly Place would be a case in point. What’s your favorite bit in this design?

10 Waverly Place is a reserve bar which means it’s a special store with an elevated coffee experience. The way that we prepare and brew coffee in there is pretty special. We have a Black Eagle machine, a Siphon — which is a Harry-Potter-like brew, — a Nitro brew, which means we can offer our customers cold brews on tap. The building itself was an existing building with a beautiful white terrazzo floor which happened to be in the same color range as our flagship store, The Roastery, in Seattle. So we preserved and resurfaced that, kept the existing brick walls and also commissioned some hand-drawn custom maps and artwork from a great artist called Tommy Tailor that I’ve collaborated with over the years.

What does the Starbucks design workflow look like?

Once we’ve found a building that can functionally hold a Starbucks store, we create a functional layout, that then develops into the first detailed floor plan. If this proposal gets the green light from our operations team, then we kick off the interior design work in SketchUp. Here we test out ideas for the bar, the lighting, and store palette. Doing this in SketchUp makes it feel like we’re working with clay: a lot of ideas can be tried out very quickly. The speed this affords us means we can rapidly visualize ideas, identify the ones we like and build on them as the design progresses.

What’s the one functionality you’re glad SketchUp has?

Without a doubt, it would be Style Builder. The way that we can tweak the default style to achieve a hand-drawn, warm, and not-too-perfect finish helps us to aptly portray a range of design aesthetics across our stores.

Rapid fire tech Q&A with Eduardo Meza, LEED AP and Senior Designer at Starbucks’ Miami Studio

1. We noticed that your team uses an impressive selection of materials. Where do you find and curate materials? 

The most commonly used materials had been created from photos and scans of our standard catalog.

2. Do all teams have a separate materials library? Or do you share your materials between offices? 

The Miami studio created a library with our standard materials and this is a library that we shared with other Starbucks Studios. Materials outside of our Standard palette are custom made per project.

3. Do you or anyone on your team use any SketchUp extensions within your workflow? If yes, could you tell us your top three? 

Yes; LSS Matrix, Section Cutface and Smart Drop.

4. What keyboard shortcut could you not live without? 

Shortcuts are a must for my workflow. Here my favorite and most frequently used custom shortcuts: M = Materials, C = Components, L= Layers.

10 Waverly Place, Brookfield Place and Broadway & 9th reserve bars have just opened across Manhattan. Pop by to see how these SketchUp visuals became a reality.

From furniture and fixtures to tech-savvy workspaces: See the Grammarly 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, visualizers, 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. 

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 utilizes 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 color 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 center in the city center. Since we didn’t have much time for the design project, the decision was to do all visualizations 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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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 analyze 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.

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.

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”

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

What is NEW in SketchUp Pro 2020

The waiting is over as new SketchUp Pro 2020 is already here. The new version is all functioning and officially available since January 28th. So let us dive deep and see what software improvements are hidden there.

Over the years, each SketchUp version has become more convenient to work with. Innovations are the result of numerous surveys conducted among a large number of users – interior designers, architects and landscape architects. Compared to last year’s versions, the number of improvements may at first seem small, however, their performance is high and will benefit enourmously your workflow. So let’s start exploring.

The layers have a new name. Tags

We start with the first big change – the naming convention.
No matter how hard you try, you won’t find the Layers tab on the Default tray. That is because they have a brand new name – Tags. By creating a new Tag, we can hide objects during work. You already know that heavy geometry is advisable to be hidden while modeling another object.

Improved Outliner

The improvements come with the addition of an extra button to hide grouped objects. This allows us to hide heavy models without even tagging them one by one. In this case, if we use a SketchUp rendering scene, it would be much easier to adjust the light, for example. After all our settings, we find easily the models and save a lot of time. Just tagging a grouped object creates a preview as hidden geometry is another enhancement to the Outliner.

Grips on Bounding Boxes

The most significant improvement is in the new facilities for moving objects. It has taken a long time to get to the point where our 3D model will stick. From now on we will do it smoothly and easier than ever. Thanks to the bonding points of the bounding boxes, when you press the down arrow, all points appear without approaching them. Even if we select a point on the back of the model, it automatically enters X-ray mode. This allows us to move it without turning the camera. Smart, right?

Hidden Geometry & Hidden Objects

The new version of SketchUp Pro 2020 already has a way of seeing hidden geometry only on objects in a scene. So far, each of the hidden objects has only appeared in the scene when you hide the geometry. This innovation takes SketchUp to the next level.

LayOut Improvements

LayOut is one of the best ways to make technical drawings on your project since it loads your SketchUp file. Choosing a template will add an interesting presentation. As we know, by now we had to manually hide objects from the work window. Well, this is over. Here comes the improvement that we already called Tags and easily hide tagged objects here.

Ready to explore even more? Now you get your FREE trial and unleash your creativity.

Happy Sketching!

The digital transformation in commercial interiors

We recently chatted with Michael Kanoza, a product graphics analyst in the special visual collaboration department (how’s that for a job title!) 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/

5 Steps to a More PROductive Workflow with ESCREO

I wake up and, before the coffee kicks in, I am already scrolling in my mind all the things that need to be done. The important ones, the urgent ones, and all those that go into the not-a-matter-of-life-and-death list. My cortisol levels rise and I am alert, ready to face the challenges of the day. My brain doesn’t need that coffee to function, for it is already speeding down the road of productivity lane. But I have one anyway. Call it morning routine, call it gustatory satisfaction. I have it long with milk. 

I wake up and before that coffee kicks in I have already mind-mapped the most efficient way to approach the duties of the day. Sometimes I wish I could glimpse at how the people I work with think. Do their brains function the way mine does? How do they approach productivity? I wonder because I care both about those people and about ESCREO—the company I co-founded 4 years ago.

Proactive as I am, I did something about it, rather than wonder.

Instead of fussing around Christmas gifts and resolutions’ lists, my team and I embarked on the task to create another type of agenda—one that aims to help busy professionals. It is, in fact, just a bonus to the essential—ESCREO’s new e-book “5 Steps to a More Productive Workflow”, which is a short, clear and fun guide to an optimal workflow designed for professionals with a vision.

And what is common between visionaries like Elon Musk, Arianna Huffington and Warren Buffett, besides success?

The answer is that they read, and they read a lot. Some read a book a week, others read 500 pages a day. Yet, in this fast passed business environment, how realistic is it for any manager to spend enough time and catch up with the big names in the business?

The market is saturated with books that explain how to optimize the workflow. The overwhelming choice and need for a hygienic filter of information require the most precious of all – our time. We thought about it and extracted the essence of all the information out there, by proposing 5 easy and proven steps that lead to a more productive workflow. In the new online book, you will find universal solutions and their ESCREO value-added proposition.

  1. It will inform you:

According to a study conducted by the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAVO), workplace chaos is directly linked to financial loss.”

2. It will make you smile:

Unless your employees are Buddhist monks undercover, chances are they will have a hard time to concentrate with all the noise.”

3. And it will make life easier for you:

You’ve picked up the phone and hired a trusted interior designer. You’ve chosen from a palette of colours and are all set to refurbish, but something is bothering you. You want a colourful, yet functional wall and whiteboards are out of the question. ESCREO Clear Whiteboard Paint is the solution you seek, as it preserves the original colour of the surface, while transforming it into a writing canvas.

The “5 Steps to a More Productive Workflow” eBook will reveal secrets like:

  • How prioritizing increase productivity?
  • Why is it important to remember the company’s vision and how to make the most out of it?
  • How does the office interior affect productivity?
  • How to keep that precious focus when it’s noisy?
  • What makes a tidy workspace so much more than a nice Instagram background?

Part of ESCREO’s mission is to help businesses operate more efficiently. In the dynamics of the modern business, coordinating a team and keeping up the fire of productivity is a challenge. Intelligent leaders know to to make the most out of all the tools that help communication flow. ESCREO offers such tools. Much more than that, we are committed to exploring the heart of the problem, so we could provide holistic solutions.

We live in a society ruled by an unwritten law: one is more, when one does more; the busier one is, the more important and successful.” Yet, to what extent is more synonymous with productivity and a prerequisite for success? Are we busy with being busy (mostly with insignificant tasks), or are we engaged in productive activities?

The alarm rings. It’s Monday… or Thursday. It doesn’t matter. Maybe, you need a coffee first. Take your time and prepare, before you embark on the mission to lead your business.

Where to?

The direction is success, of course, but how do you accelerate your business there?

Start by downloading the new ESCREO eBook “5 Steps to a More Productive Workflow”.

Author: Elena Nikolova | ESCREO
Find the Bulgarian source HERE

How to Showcase Interior Design Projects with SketchUp

In part 1 of this series, we revealed how to create winning interior design options in SketchUp. Now that you’re finished modeling, what’s next? 

We show you how to present your vision to customers and blow them away with your designs. Pssst…sign up to watch a live demo of this workflow in our upcoming webinar.

A SketchUp Pro subscription includes a powerful ecosystem of products to help you communicate your creations. Let’s explore!

Add custom Styles to your design

Adding your personal style is an important part of showcasing designs. StyleBuilder allows you to create customised line styles using imported digital or hand drawn strokes. Think crisp pen lines, wavy pencil marks or marks from a fat stick of graphite. Combine line styles with unique textures, colours and watermarks to inject your creative flair into models, renders and animations. 

In SketchUp, you can create and edit styles. Apply your preferred style settings with a single click.

Create stunning 2D drawings and branded presentation documents

Now that you’ve added a style, it’s time to insert the model into LayOut. When you import a 3D model, a viewport is placed on the page. Good news, the scenes you set up in your SketchUp file are ready to use in LayOut. 

Combine model views with text and 2D vector illustration to present design details, materials and design options. Many of the tools in LayOut work as they do in SketchUp. That means you can quickly get to drawing, resizing, adding details, making copies and changing styles and scale. 


Present your ideas with SketchUp Viewer 

Are printed drawings or a pdf the only way to showcase your work? Of course not! SketchUp Viewer for Mobile gives you the power to view and share your portfolio on iOS and Android devices. Take advantage of Augmented Reality to evaluate design options in a real-world scale. Switch between scenes to showcase designs on the go while retaining your model’s style.

Model on the go with SketchUp for Web

Not all CAD tools are fully editable on the web, SketchUp is! Handy if you need to make on-the-fly changes when you’re away from your desktop computer. Let’s say you’re in a meeting at a client’s office and they want to see a project with a revised furniture layout. Open a model to SketchUp for Web directly from Trimble Connect on any web device to make the changes in real-time. Save the file to Trimble Connect for easy access back at the office. 

Create rendered images with Trimble Connect visualizer

We’ll wrap this up with something that we are very excited about. Rendering! With a SketchUp Pro Subscription, you can create simplified renders using Trimble Connect for Desktop and the brand new Trimble Connect Visualizer. Note: this feature is currently available for Windows only.


Step into AR/VR to experience designs before they’re built

Do you have access to a VR or Mixed Reality device? If your answer is yes, you can bring 3D models to life in mixed or virtual reality. Step into a powerful new way to explore, understand, and share your work. The best part? It’s part of a SketchUp Pro Subscription.

Remember to sign up to watch a step-by-step demo of this workflow in our upcoming webinar on December 11th, 4pm UTC.

What’s Behind Update 1 in V-Ray for SketchUp?

V-Ray for SketchUp is a wonderful way to bring high-end ray-tracing to the world of architects and designers using SketchUp.

Not only is the render engine seamlessly integrated into SketchUp itself, but its also optimized for the native SketchUp user. Additionally, it has an easy interface with many presets and libraries available.
People who have been using it for a while are familiar with V-Ray’s update policy. With every major release, there come a few new service packs filled with new features. In previous releases, those were called exactly that – service packs. With V-Ray’s latest major release – V-Ray Next – the service packs have a new name – Updates. Although the naming is different, the idea is the same – you have the main release and you get the updates for free. So the only thing you need to do is just download the new version. Next, finish the install and you have access to a completely new set of features!

So what’s new

In this article, we will take a look at the major new features in the first update of V-Ray Next for SketchUp. We will focus on the latest updates but as well mention a few key ones from the major release, which was V-Ray Next.

The first thing a user notices is the updated V-Ray Asset editor. It has a new approach to providing direct visualization. And tips for almost everything, as well as dedicated sections for Render Elements and Textures. Although a bit hard to get used to in the beginning, the interface becomes easier to navigate with practice. With V-Ray Next for SketchUp Update 1, the new addition to the UI is the Color Temperature in the Color Picker.

This might seem like a small change, but is a highly useful one when it comes to setting White Balance and color temperature for lights. Architects and interior designers will find this as a very big time saver and most importantly – an easy way to adjust light based on photographic approaches.

UI Advancement

Another UI advancement based on user demand is the fast switch of the Denoiser, including a picker between Nvidia AI Denoiser and V-Ray Denoiser. This only shows how much the workflow has been affected by the denoising technology and how much of a time saver it is. A great way of exploring this is switching the NVidia AI denoiser on when you are in interactive (IPR) rendering. And on top of that – the latest release – V-Ray for SketchUp Next Update 1 has additional speed optimizations when it comes to IPR so the results are faster than ever.

Post-Production Features

Then, Update 1 comes with a few extra special updates when it comes to post-production after the render is done. Over the years the V-Ray Frame Buffer (VFB) has become better and better when it comes to color correcting and additional elements in V-Ray itself, without the use of a 3rd party software. With V-Ray, Next Update One there come a few great additions to the lens panel options including the possibility to add Dust and Scratches as a post effect directly in the VFB.

This is a great addition to the family as it allows you to create accurate lens effects directly, even in interactive render and with the Nvidia Denoiser on!

To those of you who still prefer to do post-production in additional software, with V-Ray Next update 1 there comes the support for Cryptimatte. Although a bit advanced, this render element allows you to get automatic IDs and use them in post for fast and easy masking.

Head in the Clouds

And at the end of the day, if you want to save some time in the final render as well – you can always take advantage of V-Ray Cloud. Which is not a new feature per se. However, it is a great feature for sure. Using the V-Ray cloud allows you to send your renders with just one click to your Chaos Cloud account. Here you can render in high quality and resolution them without having to invest in your own render farm. If you have not – check V-Ray Cloud. It is a lifesaver.

Finally, V-Ray Next Update 1 is a great addition to the Next pipeline. It gives you more speed when look-developing the image and even more powerful when finishing the whole render.
It’s even more seamlessly integrated with SketchUp than previous versions. Which shows how Chaos Group develops the connection with every new release, listening to their users. 

Go check it now! 

Author: Kalina Panteleeva