It used to be that professional interior designers had to tote around a lot of gear, from tape measures, to sketchbooks, to samples and swatches galore. Back in the office were desktops loaded with technical drawing and 3D modeling software, waiting for designers to return and spend hours upon hours creating formal drawings and presentation boards from the notes, sketches, and materials collected while out on the day’s site visits and shopping trips.
With the digital apps of today, a professional interior designer can safely head out of the house for a day’s work with just a smartphone or tablet and be able to accomplish everything on his to-do list in half the time. In a competitive market where efficiency and productivity are what separate the best from the rest, it pays to know all of the best tools available to you as an interior designer and business owner. That’s why, as a follow-up to our first deep-dive on the best apps for professional interior designers, we’re filling you in on all of the latest features of old favorites, plus new apps that will take your game to a new level.
Capturing the Framework
MagicPlan uses AR to create floorplans from your device’s camera (Source: https://www.magicplan.app)
We start our list of best interior design apps where many interior design projects begin: measuring the existing space.
Apple’s Measure App
In our original app review, we talked about the iHandy Carpenter app, which includes five essential measuring tools for interior designers: A plumb bob, a surface level, a bubble level bar, a steel protractor, measuring angles from 0 to 180 degrees, and a steel ruler. This time, we recommend trying Apple’s Measure app, which is built into the iPhone with Apple’s new iOS 12 operating system. It uses Apple’s proprietary Augmented Reality (AR) system, ARKit, to measure objects and spaces with the phone’s camera with impressive accuracy. The user simply points and clicks at the chosen start and end points to get a digital measurement in imperial or metric units. It also has a level tool, much like iHandy Carpenter’s toolkit. Note: it is only available on Apple devices.
MagicPlan (New Features)
When it’s time to draft the floorplan of the space you are working with, AR can help with that too. The MagicPlan app, leveraging AR, allows users to take pictures of a space and translate them into professional floor plans that can be edited and annotated within the app, swiftly creating a finished looking product. Its latest update, rolled out in April 2019, greatly improves the app’s 3D modeling capabilities. MagicPlan can now capture a floor’s shape and size, as well as the ceiling height from the camera capture, and can use real-time image recognition and processing through Artificial Intelligence (AI) to automatically recognize windows and doors in a room, which previously had to be entered manually by the user during post-processing. It also has a feature similar to the previously recommended Photo Measure app, which allows users to draw measurements directly onto pictures of a space. It’s always a good idea to back-up your digital measurements with an old-fashioned hand measure, and this new feature makes it easy to record those details in a flash.
AutoCad Mobile App (New Features)
Of course, AutoCAD is still the industry’s gold standard for creating technical drawings, and many professional interior designers eventually use it at some point in their design process. The AutoCAD mobile app allows you to create new drawings or edit existing files directly from your smartphone or tablet, using the traditional commands to draw or a stylus pen for freehand. The latest version has even more editing capabilities and greatly improved compatibility with the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil.
Designing the Decor
The Home Design 3D Gold app allows users to build, decorate, and render images on the go.
Home Design 3D Gold
Home Design 3D Gold is one of the highest-rated apps in the Apple App Store, which is a reflection of just how fun and easy to use this 3D modeling app is. Users can draw spaces directly in the app in either 2D or 3D, then extrude walls, change thickness, and add doors and windows with zero frustration. Once a space is built, add finishes and furniture. Home Design 3D Gold has a digital warehouse of over 1000 furniture pieces to choose from. Once your design is complete, create photo-realistic renderings directly from your device in seconds. Much like sophisticated rendering programs such as Rhinoceros and Revit, the Home Design 3D Gold app can display realistic light and shadow renderings depending on the position of the sun and the day, time and location you choose for renderings, making it easy to understand how natural sunlight will impact a design.
Morpholio Board (New Features)
In our previous app review, we sang the praises of Morpholio Board, an app that lets users create next-level digital mood boards with a variety of collage-style layouts and a library of interior design products from brands like Herman Miller, Knoll, Porcelanosa, 3Form, Artek, Volk, and Uhuru. In July 2019, Morpholio announced it is teaming up with Theia Interactive to add AR tools to Morpholio Board that will allow users to design their own furniture in the app with detailed finishes, patterns, and stitching, as an alternative to choosing from the app’s product library.
1stDibs (New Features)
The 1stDibs app is an interior designer’s dream come true, allowing users to shop a curated mix of the finest objects in the world from the top international sellers and galleries, which before 1stDibs, were impossible to browse remotely. In February 2019, the luxury online marketplace opened its first stand-alone showroom in New York City, and being the tech-forward company that it is, 1stDibs updated their mobile app to enhance the showroom experience by allowing visitors to quickly pull up products they see in the showroom on the 1stdibs app via QR codes.
The Concepts app allows users to sketch in vector format.
The Concepts app is a drawing app that is like an advanced version of sketching paper, where the natural hand can be transformed into vector shapes, allowing users to scale and manipulate objects with precision, as well as print crisp lineweights. With the Concepts app, quick sketches can quickly be polished into professional presentation drawings.
Art Set 4
Art Set 4 is an iPad painting app designed to mimic art mediums such as watercolor, oil paints, crayons, and pencils all in an easy to use, touch interface. Users can begin a drawing in the app from scratch or import drawings made in other programs, and finish them in Art Set 4 to give them the look of a hand rendering, adding a special touch to drawings for an interior design presentation.
The Buffer app is the easiest way to use the Buffer social media management platform, which allows users to schedule posts to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Users only need to add content, such as a link or picture, to the Buffer app once. From there, the user can quickly choose where and when to post it, then track its performance over time. The Hootsuite app works similarly, and the difference comes down to how big your business is and how often you will post. Although they offer less than Hootsuite, Buffer plans are cheaper and a good place to start for a small interior design business on a budget.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Design Manager app, which the company recently released with a host of enhanced features. Using the app, interior designers can create entries for clients, projects, vendors, and employees, capture item pictures and specifications with a camera click or photo upload, view project proposal items, and look up contact information. Users can also use the app’s Time Tracker to record time, designate it as billable or non-billable, and attach the entry to a project. The Design Manager app is incredibly intuitive and helps you work faster by connecting your Design Manager Pro Cloud with your Apple device.
And so concludes our updated review of the best apps for professional interior designers! As technology advances and apps evolve, we will periodically update our readers with all of the latest information on which apps to download and which apps to ditch, so stay tuned to the Design Manager blog for everything you need to know to be an informed, industry-leading interior designer!