Notepads, Sketchbooks and Evernote

We’re diving deeper into how the Bargeheights design process works here on the blog. So, I though I’d comment about my methodology for sketchbooks and notes. I’ve wrestled with a bunch of ideas–usually in response to something I read on some blog on the interwebs. I went through an evernote phase for a while. Paperless, I thought, was the answer. While evernote is FANTASTIC for project notes, site progress meetings and all the stuff of AVL integration in large scope projects, paperless sucks for ideas and sketches. There’s still something about real paper, pen or pencil that is conducive for hammering out an idea.

I’ve made friends with several architects in my time working on integrated systems and as an independent lighting consultant. Architects, like lighting designers, have to rapidly generate ideas–many, many ideas in order to find one or two elements that connect with a client. Then, architects shift gears into communicating a massive quantity of detail to many different trades and contractors. A process not unlike developing and then communicating a lighting or scenic design. The bottom line- processes that work for architects can also work for lighting designers.

I’ve become a big fan of Bob Borson’s Life of an Architect blog. Bob talks about his process for notebooks and sketchbooks (search his site for “sketches” and you’ll uncover a wealth of info). Esentially, he keeps a chronological sketchbook, not sorting or parting things out for project until it’s needed.

“As I mentioned above I feel it’s important to have records of all of your thoughts, ideas and designs that are centrally located and easily accessible.

I have a small library of sketchbooks that I have filled up over the years and I find myself going through them every now and then remembering exactly what I was doing when I drew on the page. In some instances it’s a chronology of my day-to-day thought process….something that photographs or video can never convey.” -Bob Borson

This idea of sketchbooks is really similar to a journal. I’ve recently adopted this strategy, and so far, I’m a fan. Trying to keep separate notebooks for scenic, lighting, projects, etc, easily becomes overwheleming. Again, to me, the beauty of paper is the speed and simplicity to capture an idea. The chronological sketchbook is certainly simple, which I like.

Here’s my current notebook. I’m still old school- I prefer moleskins. I’ve used different sizes, but in the last couple of years, I’ve settled on this:


Here’s a few pages of sketches


A scenic design



Measurements from a site


I hope some info about how I use notebooks helps you in your line of work! If you guys enjoy these posts, we’ll continue to open up the doors and talk process and tools on the blog.


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