design sketch

“Drawing is the root of everything.” 

– Vincent Van Gogh –

With each year that passes, design technology and software improve. Today, almost all design projects will include some form of digital rendering of the idea, whether it is a conceptual image combining a sketch with realistic elements, or a full photo-realistic 3D rendered image/walk-through video.

The driving focus is to produce design visuals that are precise technical renderings of how the final design will be. Realism and detail are the priority, offering clients the ability to see into the future to observe their new space as it will finally be. However, for many designers a design doesn’t begin on a computer, it begins with a sketch.

In this article, we explore the craft and discipline of sketching and its role in creative discovery. We share how our designers at Extreme use sketches when evolving a new design and reveal the initial sketches behind some of our projects.


Although the term CAD (Computer Aided Design) was coined in the late 1950s, it is only in the last two decades that CAD drawings have become the norm for kitchen and furniture designers. Our Creative Director, Marcello Cuconato, recalls how hand drawing was the standard practice in the early years of his career. “My first role in the design industry was working as a draughtsman, hand drawings were the primary way to both communicate a vision to the client and specify the technicalities of a design to the furniture makers. As a draughtsman, I spent many years honing my skills. Using a specialist set of draughting tools, I created kitchen plans which were all created by hand on a draughting board. It was an intricate and delicate process and having studied fine art and painting in alls its technical form, moving towards technical draughting was a natural direction.”

“Drawing is putting a line (a)round an idea.”

– Henri Matisse –

With the development of CAD software, the draughtsman trade has gradually diminished and hand drawing has become increasingly rare. For many designers that continue to sketch, it has been a more personal exercise in creative exploration with many of their drawings remaining in their sketch pad or desk drawer never to be seen by others. However, at Extreme we are advocates for hand drawing and hope that by promoting and sharing the sketches of our designers that we can inspire others to continue this artisan skill.

Technical hand drawing for a kitchen island concept – Extreme Design

It is important to note that there isn’t just one form of design sketch. There are various types and techniques which are used based on the designer’s style and preference, and the function they serve in the design process. While technical drawing is a more structured practice, centred around precision, scale and detail, conceptual drawing focuses on the essence and vision of the idea. The act of conceptual drawing is a highly creative process, it connects our mind with our body and enables designers to explore new ideas instantly. This form of sketching is a way to design without restraint or restriction to preconceived ideas and forms. A designer can explore different possibilities within minutes, creating the perfect environment to explore and play with design without consequence. After all, a great idea can be born using only a few simple lines.

“Drawing is the artist’s most direct and spontaneous expression. A species of writing: it reveals, better than does painting, his true personality.”  

– Edgar Degas –

“At Extreme, our mission is to create unique and individual kitchens and furniture that tell the story of each client. Therefore, for us, it is unquestionable that our designs must start with a sketch.” says Marcello, “In kitchen design, too often the focus is on the size of the room, the appliances that are needed and where they should be placed. In no time at all, the kitchen has become nothing more than a functional area. Sketching is how we explore new creative possibilities and challenge ourselves as designers to produce something new and fresh that captures the individuality of our clients. When we draw, through the marks, shapes, smudges and corrections, the design begins to come to life.”

A designer’s conceptual drawings enable them to define the chosen ideas which will be taken forward to become central to the final design. However, beyond being a tool for creative exploration, sketches are also a means of communication. At Extreme, even the most primitive of our drawings can be used to gather feedback from the client and establish technical feasibility with our technical team and furniture makers.

“Drawing is vision on paper.”

– Andrew Loomis –

Conceptual hand drawing of a yacht inspired kitchen design – Extreme Design


For us at Extreme, there is no substitute for sketching during the conceptual design phase and it is the method we use to explore how to transform a client’s inspiration into a design. We experiment with influences from their design story, exploring how they can be evolved and refined to create a unique sculpture, layout or form that tells the client’s story.

“In drawing, nothing is better than the first attempt.” 

– Pablo Picasso –

Even the most seemingly abstract references inform a design, from the layout and form to the finishes. The sketches below show some of the early ideas for one of our kitchen projects for which the client’s design story focussed on travels as a family in Africa. Through reviewing photos of their travels and researching the locations visited, our designer translated references such as mangrove trees and giraffes into shapes that would influence the form of the kitchen island.

Conceptual drawings of a kitchen inspired by travels in Africa – Extreme Design


As mentioned earlier in this article, the type of sketch a designer uses is often driven by its purpose within the design process. Following the conceptual stage, elevation drawings, also referred to as perspective drawings are used to progress the concept towards a final and complete design.

These sketches, whilst still loose and fluid, bring to light the proportions, scale and detail of the initial concept. It is often only at this point that the suggestion of a kitchen or piece of furniture is evident.

Elevation hand drawing of a kitchen design – Extreme Design

At Extreme, it is often at this point that we turn to our CAD software to translate the concept into a digital rendering and establish the measurements, scale and technical requirements. By designing this way, we afford ourselves the space and opportunity for creativity, allowing us to create spaces that are truly custom and personal to each of our clients.

We hope that you have found this article insightful and informative. To find out more about our unique design process, or begin your design journey with Extreme, please contact the team at our design studios who will be delighted to assist you.