What design tool or accessory could you not live without and why?

Last week, Pentagram designer Aron Fay launched a crowdfunding campaign to redesign the classic composition notebook. We ask designers about their own essential design-related tools and accessories.

Alan Dye, director, NB Studio
Alan Dye, director, NB Studio

My Rotoring 2:5 broke thank god, what a bore to clean. I gave my beautiful Italian parallel motion drawing board away. I’ve never been one for keeping sketch books, I can’t read my own writing and generally leave them in cabs. The Designer’s Handbook that was an essential buy and must read, when I started my foundation course in 1986, was never opened.

The only thing I’ve consistently used since school and could not live without are those 1970s looking green pens – Ball Pentel Fine Point R50 France.

They live in every jacket pocket, line the inside of my bag and draws. You probably wouldn’t need to crowd source as I own most of them and am probably the only person still colouring in nonsense with them, on a white sheet of A4 paper of course. Oh, and my brain.

Chris Waggot, founding director, Common Works
Chris Waggot, founding director, Common Works

At Common Works we use a lot of post it notes. We find them really useful for quickly getting ideas down that can be ordered, reshuffled and restuck as the design process evolves.

They can also stand in for just about anything, whether they’re frames of a story board or the different sketched elements of a user interface.

Also as a bit of post-it trivia, 2017 will the the original 3M post-its 40th birthday.

Jenny Theolin, creative partner at Studio Theolin
Jenny Theolin, creative partner at Studio Theolin

Slightly boring answer – I cannot physically work without my large Wacom tablet. From battling repetitive strain injury for nearly 8 years, it’s a true lifesaver.

Slightly more fun answer – Post Its! Spending a lot of time facilitating and process designing, Post Its are core to my materials list. My love/hate relationship with technology is perfectly compensated with the use of analog tools.

It’s also a great visual accessory you can spice up any meeting with. Interactive, fun and practical.

It’s amazing what you can achieve with a tiny bit of sticky paper and a pen.

Amanda Jackson, director, Jackdaw Design
Amanda Jackson, director, Jackdaw Design

Without a doubt it would have to be my mobile phone – I love it! It’s become the digital notebook for my endlessly curious mind (but not the same thing as my sketchbook).

Designers are like visual jackdaws or magpies and I use my mobile phone to capture the inspiration in things I see across art, food, nature, culture, trends and design.

Whether it’s images, quotes, curious facts, ideas or thoughts… you get the picture. The imagination works in wonderful ways and at all hours, so it’s great that it’s always to hand. Without it I think my head would burst!

Daniela Nunzi Mihranian, creative director, Studio Minerva
Daniela Nunzi Mihranian, creative director, Studio Minerva

The only design accessory I need is the brand that I am working on. Whether it is a spirit or perfume bottle I will carry it around with me drawing everything out if it.

The unique personality, characteristics and layers of the brand fills my brain with so much inspiration – what it looks like, sounds like, it’s texture, smell and taste.

I believe every brand is individual and has individual needs. By fully immersing yourself with it you can achieve greatness.

How you capture that can be done with any tool from a pencil to a Mac.

Chris Harrison, creative director, Harrison Agency Ltd
Chris Harrison, creative director, Harrison Agency Ltd

I’ve watched the Comp book Kickstarter video three times now. I can’t decide if it’s a spoof. The designer, Aron Fay, has helped us to see how we’ve been mugged by using notebooks that use “cheap board” (disgrace), “thin paper” (yuk) and “rounded corners” (mummy, they hurt my eyes to look at).

I usually find that the nearest piece of available paper will do just fine to scribble away on. The backs of envelopes are quite good, and a very green way to scamp and sketch.

Anyway, back to the question – a bus ticket. Printed on really cheap paper, with badly aligned typography and costing £2.50 (bit of a rip off). But I do find (cliché alert) that the top deck is where I have some of my best ideas.

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  • Dave Ardley November 6, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    After thirty years of delivering design education, I have to say that a black bic or rollerball slipped into the spine of one of Seawhites wonderful A5 ‘superbrit’ sketchbooks is still my most prized design support tool.

    Always there, always faithful and, despite my phone or tablet, the sketchbook allows me to note, scribble, doodle, play and convey as I go. I also keep a paperclip attached to it’s cover and a few post-its inside ready to go.

    After this it is my iPhone for sure.

  • Bonnie November 7, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    We ask this question to all of the artists and designers we carry at our shop, too. Some great answers: https://poetandthebench.com/blogs/news/tagged/conversations-with-an-artist

    For me, the utility and brevity of post-its provide order in the chaos…

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