As an interior designer, your mind is always working. Whether you’re commuting, hanging out with friends, or even lounging on the beach, your mind is probably full of ideas. A tablet is a great tool for turning those ideas into plans, notes, and sketches, and there’s no better tablet for an interior designer than an iPad.
Let’s make that more explicit: there’s no better tablet for an interior designer than an iPad Pro 12.9, carefully protected in its iPad 12.9 case. An iPad Pro has been called a laptop replacement, and it’s powerful enough for one. That said, you’ll still want to have a computer for professional interior design. iPads are great, but they can only run iPadOs programs, which means you won’t be able to use your favorite CAD programs on the go.
So don’t throw away your computer— you’ll still need it for your AutoCAD, Auto desk 3Ds Max, Chief Architect, or whatever your favorite CAD software might be. But get a tablet too, and use it to show off your portfolio, for inspiration sourcing, or for sketching. It’s a great supplementary tool even if it never becomes your chief workhorse.
It turns out your iPad really shines when it comes to concept development. Whether you’re on the field, talking a client through various possibilities, or brainstorming in the quiet of your own office, an iPad will be your best friend.
Use Pinterest to search for inspiration, or create a board for future reference or to share with colleagues and clients. Our advice: keep your rough brainstorming on private boards, and go public only when you’ve got something you actually want to share. Well curated public boards can be a great place to send clients, although moodboards provide a more personalized experience.
Other inspirational websites include Houzz, which the Washington Post cites as a ‘single best source’ for inspiration, Design Sponge, National Trust Treasure Hunt, and Elle Decor.
For mood boarding, try out Morpholio Board Pro, cited among ‘best apps’ by HouseBeautiful, Design Milk, Metropolis and Architectural Digest . Both the free and paid versions allow you to create spiffy mood boards with layers, image controls and smart text, but if you go Pro you can also get cut sheets, specs, and even shopping lists for your selected products.
The app can be connected to your Pinterest boards, so you’ll have access to everything you’ve pinned. There are also some cool AR features that make the app especially fun to use. AR furniture superimposes onto the scene in your camera viewfinder so you can experiment with different configurations, and AR color capture allows you to pick colors from your surroundings to build on.
The combination of a cutting edge camera and sophisticated mapping apps make your iPad a great way to put your space down on paper. It might not be quite as accurate as measuring everything out with a plumb line and meter stick and drawing on graph paper, but it certainly is faster.
iHandy Carpenter is your virtual toolbox with a ruler, a plumb bob, a protractor and a surface level. It’s easy to use, but be aware that the app does need calibration before you start. If you just want the ruler, the Apple app Measure will do the job.
For an actual diagram of what is where, try out MagicPlan. Scanning a room with your phone camera enables the software to generate a plan of the room, complete with windows, doors, and walls. If you want measurements that you can be sure are 100% accurate, you’ll have the option to connect a laser meter with bluetooth— but for rough estimates, your iPad’s own camera will do a pretty good job.
AutoDesk’s HomeStyler Interior Designer starts the same way MagicPlan does: with a picture you take with your iPad camera. Once you’ve captured your space, you’ll be able to add in furniture or experiment with color schemes. Photorealistic finishes help you to visualize your space, and enable you to create professional concept pictures within minutes.
There’s also Home Design 3D Gold, where you sketch your space and mark in the windows, doors, and thicknesses of walls. Finishes and furniture are next, and when you’ve got your design where you want it you can create a super-realistic rendering that will impress your clients. Light and shadows are customizable, allowing you to tweak your final image just exactly the way you want it.
AutoCAD 360 Mobile is another app you’re unlikely to want to do without, though it doesn’t have the full functionality of the AutoCAD you’re used to on the computer. You can still view, markup, edit and create DWG files, and though the interface is simple the learning curve, at least, is low.
Of course, this summary only scratches the surface of what is available in the app store for interior designers. Do a simple search, and you’ll come up with hundreds. The sketching tools for iPad are great, and you can certainly come up with some pretty nice 3D maps using your new tablet. You’ll pull out your tablet whenever you ant to go over a gallery of concept pictures, and you’ll find yourself relying on it 100% when you’re due for Zoom calls. The iPad Pro won’t replace your laptop, but it will complement it, and it will make your off-desk time that much more productive by automating simple tasks and making your creative work more intuitive, more fluent, and just more fun.
So get an iPad Pro, an iPad Pro 12.9 4th generation case (or whatever case is appropriate for your model), and get that show on the road!