Retail / Furniture Designer


Exhibition madness and Solidworks woes - Weekly review 2

Okay so second week in review, another extended weekend coming up as we have numerous bank holidays in May, cannot complain! It's been a hectic week for me, pushing hard to get the best version of my website out, uploading more content, Peerless exhibiting at the Retail Design Expo and a growing task list.


Kicking off with Peerless. The past week has picked up pretty well after a somewhat dismal March / April for us, murmurs of great meetings from the sales team with big clients / design agencies, is providing a positive outlook for the near future. My concerns for the exhibition were put at rest, as the decision was made that we will be taking our standard flagship ROTOR frame, and the value engineering operation has been halted for the meantime. The final exhibition components are in from our sister company's factory in Holland, which comprises of 3 demo lightboxes (Sidelit, Edgelit and Backlit), 1 large lightbox for side display, 1 large illuminated snap frame and most importantly 2 600mm bays of our new fabric wall system, one of which is illuminated. A quick mock up of the displays around our showroom looked extremely positive and certainly went a long way to calming some pre-exhibition nerves. 

My workload has shifted from product design to graphic almost overnight, as I am now concentrating on promoting and marketing the new system, and thus providing the support material for this. In all honesty, creating marketing material and beautiful extensive renders is not my strong point, but when you're a member of a small team, flexibility is key. I've been having some real trouble with high quality interior renders recently, it's definitely something I need to improve. It is one of those techniques you never really work on until you realise it's too late and that render has to be done by tomorrow etc etc. Keyshot is lacking quality / depth and isn't generally used for interior renders. I am beginning to realise it is flawed and time for me to move on (3DSMax trials and hours watching Youtube tutorials imminent), more to follow on that front. I try to keep my workloads separate wherever possible as I find it really difficult sometimes to switch from graphics based work to designing components. Flicking from Autocad, to Solidworks, to Illustrator, is a quick way to lose your sanity, mainly due to the different uses of the jogwheel and a CTRL button!

The support material is going to be loaded onto iPads at the show, and for purposes of this review I've shown a preview below (which is very basic, so forgive me). The image collection required for the exhibition involves the sales team having to hand: system renders, store elevations and product datasheets. This is all to be finalised next week so I can show something a little more substantial then, but see below for a little sneak preview.

I've been having a ridiculous battle with Solidworks recently and trying to match a previous style that historically Peerless uses on all of their datasheets. It is a line drawing of an isometric view of the product. This works well on short detailed linear components (see below left) yet not so well at all on long detailed thin sections where lineweight is an issue. Initially Google searches and forum scowling will tell you that to export to illustrator, it is an easy 'file>save as' operation, but trust me it really isn't. Then there's exporting as PDF. Nice idea (seen below right), although it is a vector rather than a raster image you get an effect which strangely throws line points out at random (why even bother solidworks?) this is useless, I need something accurate. EVENTUALLY the answer was to plot it in the drawing space using the current view, drag this away from the paper space and set the view to 1:1. After doing this, save as a .DXF (which illustrator can recognise), and this will allow you to open the vector file and then modify. Surely I can't be the only person to have had this problem and I'm definitely not the first to complain online, but there seems to be no easy fix? Unless I'm being ignorant; Solidworks I really could use a simple operation to sort this out!


The main work I have been doing, as you may have seen if you visit my website frequently, is to smarten up the contact or 'me' page as it is labelled. I've created a form for signing up to my mailing list and linked this to to Mailchimp for bi-weekly mailshots. I'd appreciate some feedback on that so please navigate above, or if you are reading this on medium click here. I'd love to hear what you think.

Some more development renders of my slotted post system have been completed, including a little trial of an animation, which I will be uploading to Instagram soon so keep a lookout. I am also in the process of designing a drop leaf desk / table for my room so I can do a bit more work in there and turn the small space into more of an office area (more to follow).

As briefly mentioned before i'm trialling new rendering software in a bid to take my skills a bit further away from the basic techniques that Keyshot seems to offer. A 3DSmax trial review is on the cards and one of my things to do. I would also really like to play with Adobe Felix (I know how late I am to the party) but I just want to trial the software and see if it is as simple as they make it look. 

Finally on my major list of things to do (points and draft have already been written, to be finished next week) is complete my write up of the key retail trends of the near future. Now I'm going to be honest this originally was key retail trends of 2017 but sometimes . . . you just don't get stuff done!

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