20 August 2008

Another shameless plug for SketchUp

I spent the better part of the morning designing a huge, open floor plan kitchen for a lovely couple from Dunedin. They want something interesting and contemporary, so I took their architect's renderings and shifted things around a bit as I am wont to do. Now, I want to show something interesting but in order to work in my industry, I'm compelled to use a truly inferior piece of software called 20/20. I've complained about 20/20 before, so I won't add to my list of public grievances. Not too much anyway.

My quest for an interesting kitchen started with an inspiration photograph. Here's my inspiration. I'm love the supports below this glass bar, and I really like the idea of sheathing a knee wall in bamboo veneer as has been done here.

Now a knee wall is usually a structural thing that adds support to an island or a peninsula. As a structural element, we usually hide them. But in this case, the designer drew attention to it, so much so that it's arguably the focal point of this peninsula. So for my interesting kitchen assignment, I want to take the idea of this exposed knee wall in a peninsula and apply it to an island. Two islands in this case. Easy right? Wrong.

I work with some very expensive professional software called 20/20. 20/20 bills itself as "the world's leading interior design software." You need to have a license to buy it and operate it is how exclusive a proposition this software is. You'd think that with all that exclusivity, I'd be able to render something resembling the back of this peninsula to show to my clients. So you'd think.

Here's the best 20/20 could do after about four hours.

20/20 can't draw a curve on something that's standing up, like my bar supports here. It can't apply a bamboo veneer texture to my wall or supports. I can't show the curved glass bar. Not only can it not do most of what I want it to do, my system crashed three times trying to get it as far as I have. PATHETIC. So now I get to tell a client during a presentation "Ignore those straight supports, let's pretend they're curved like in the picture I showed you. Now pay me $40,000."

That's clearly an unacceptable scenario. So my next option would be to hand draw the rendering above. However, that would take me the next two days to complete and I need to show my ideas to these people today.

So, I launched my FREE copy of Google's SketchUp and banged out this in about ten minutes. Now I ask you, how can software that cost three times as much as the laptop I run it on be trounced so soundly by software that's free for everybody? How does that happen?



  2. Thanks. I think so too. Although at we ended up using another material all together --Kirei. Kerei is another renewable veneer material only it's made from sorghum straw. Pretty slick.

  3. i just found out about 2020 today - i would consider myself a SU guy and boy that 2020 looks lousy, although I like the idea that all the manufacturers have their products in it and that it connects to costing... etc. What we need is a Ruby script for sketchup to do the costing and for the manufacturers to get their products in the 3D Warehouse...

  4. Amen brother! Thanks for the comment and welcome to Kitchen and Residential Design. Don't be mislead though, only a small fraction of the manufacturers out there have 20/20 catalogs and 20/20 charges them a bloody fortune for the honor. And even then, it's only appliances and cabinet manufacturers who get to play. Need and Anderson window? Too bad. You can't even draw one from scratch. 20/20 needs to be scrapped entirely.

    The ONLY thing 20/20 does is price cabinetry and it does that well, regrettably. I've talked about a third part pricing plug in with the gang at SketchUp before. Send me an e-mail privately if you want more information on that. But in the meantime, SketchUp's fully aware of the potential of a Ruby script such as the one you described.

    Anyhow, please hang around for a while and keep in touch sir. Have a great day!

  5. I've been using 2020 for over ten years. You're either using an ancient version, or you have never had training.
    Maybe you simply have a difficult time with all CAD software in general.
    2020 does every single thing that you say it can't. You just have to be knowledgeable.

  6. I run 20/20 version 8.1 thank you and have been using 20/20 for nine years. It is an ungainly piece of crap and I use it because they have an entire industry hostage. I have never come across a colleague who shared your opinion. Between its inability to draw interior architecture in any kind of meaningful way and its horribly dated accessories, that software actually holds back our industry.

  7. I have been using 2020 for 8 years now...I banged that out in about 10 minutes on 2020. FYI those are just arched valances mounted vertically. Try texture code V7658 for something close to the picture you provided of the bamboo. Use the ROOM catalog and go to "decorative items" and choose "user/bath box shape". Select user shape...this allows you to choose glass as a texture and is buildable like a countertop. I used "frosted blue" as the glass texture. For your supports use placeable walls and make them 1" thick...go to walls and choose a round curout for the top and bottom and straight cutouts to fill in the gaps...its pretty simple. If you had trouble doing that after 10 years, you ought to reevaluate your position as a designer/salesmen.

    Jack Masse

  8. Let me guess, you're a 20/20 rep.

  9. So the $2000 software may be able to do the same thing as the free Sketchup software ... interesting. At some point design talent is going to be more important than software budgets, no? Real competition.

  10. I'm not a 20-20 rep and I can do that in 10 minutes also. I agree that sketchup is great, but now you have to hand write your cabinet order and label all of the cabinets in your design manually if you want to send it to a manufacturer. I deal with fellow designers who also struggle with 20-20 after years of use. I have also used the other options that have been out there before sketchup came along. 20-20 is one of the better programs. You can use the drawing tools to make about any shape you want, and as long as you are not afraid to think outside of the program, you can manipulate it to do quite a bit. Until cabinet companies start making catalogs for sketchup, 20-20 is your best option in the industry.

  11. Most of what I order is hand entered anyway. 20/20's a good tool if all you do is catalog work, but the minute you try to draw something not covered in a catalog you're screwed. Not to mention the fact that you can't draw archways, windows that look decent or furniture and lighting from this century.

    Most damning of all is that the only way I can access my copyrighted designs that I draw in 20/20 is to pay them a maintenance fee so I can look at my own archives.

    Until 20/20 comes up with a way to allow designers to show clients something as basic as a vessel sink, a modern plumbing fixture or a French-door refrigerator; it will never be a best option. At most it will be a compromise.

  12. 20/20 want to charge me $2000+ when I lost my key!
    Very very bad, and if you use it on trip or site...

  13. Ouch! What did you end up doing?

  14. This is such a joke. 20-20 isn't the problem. There clearly was a disconnect between users hand and his brain.

  15. Lemme guess... Anonymous comment, nasty tone, you must represent 20/20 for a living. Do me a favor and draw me a rounded wall, one that has rounded cabinets on it. And then, draw me an arched doorway. Finally, just for kicks, draw me a free-form soffit with some uplighting.

    20/20's a great tool if you're selling standard cabinets at Home Depot and you're happy making $25,000 a year but heaven help you if you want to get into real design.

    Do me a favor and sign your name next time.


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