Love at first sight: how designer Patrick Jouin uses Shapr3D

ArchitectFront Page Display

May 10

Patrick Jouin is one of France’s most acclaimed designers, and he has been an early user of Shapr3D. In this interview, he shared with us his journey and how he uses Shapr3D.

It’s not common that you get to talk to one of the leading designers of the world over Skype. It’s also rare that person happens to use your product to create his designs. But these things just happened to occur a few days ago. Patrick Jouin is one of France’s most acclaimed designers, and he has been an early user of Shapr3D. He just shared with us his journey and how he uses Shapr3D.

His co-founder Sanjit Manku refers to Patrick Jouin as the Houdini of design.

And he might be right. Patrick is a well-known designer, not just in France, but in the whole world. Here’s an interview we did with him in late April over Skype, just after his appearance at the Salone del Mobile Milano (Milan Design Week).

The background

How did you get started with your career?

I was born in 1967 in Nantes and graduated in 1992. I have been drawing and sketching ever since.

I am a designer from the old times. Started with pen, pencil and paper and still enjoy that style of the workflow.

I studied at the École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle in Paris. It is an interdisciplinary, industrial design, graduate-level school. Just after graduation I started working with Philippe Starck and spent five years as his right arm. That’s one of the reasons why people still assume I’m his protégé. The truth it: he introduced me to furniture design and taught me the essentials of curiosity in design. But I have stopped working for him 20 years ago, so it’s safe to assume I have my own style and design concepts.

Back in the ’90s, everything was done by hands. In fact, Philippe Starck didn’t allow us to have computers at all. We literally had to hide them when he was around. But after a while, he realized the power of AutoCAD and later started to allow computers in the design process. I used 3DS and AutoCAD but learned all of these my own.

Partly due to this heritage, I am still better at sketching with hand.

I have never been good with 3D, I am just much faster with sketching.

This is why I have a full team who helps me to develop my ideas.

Tools & workflow

What tools does your team use?

We are about 45 people in my design agency. A third of them are industrial designers, a third are architects and another are interior designers.

The industrial designers mostly use SolidWorks, the architects use Rhino. But we also use AutoCAD and 3ds Max as well. So it’s not one tool, but rather a combination.

On one hand, our workflow was pretty straight forward and standard: I would start sketching by hand in my sketchbook and pass the concept to my team. Then they would try to understand it and see if it was actually doable and manageable in 3D. On the other hand, many times it could turn out that the drawing and sketch didn’t make sense in actual 3D. So I was always looking for solutions that combined natural sketching and 3D.

So, did you try other solutions?

Oh, yes. Gave the Wacom Stylus a try, but it didn’t work out, I always went back to my regular sketchbook instead. When the iPad Pro was released I was very excited, because I thought there might be a potential. But it turned out that most software that was claiming to be for 3D, were using fingers to draw and sketch.

It was evident after a few attempts: it’s impossible to draw precisely with fingers.

When I saw the demo video of Shapr3D a little later, I got really excited. It was using the newly released Apple Pencil, and I immediately knew that it would be much more precise than fingers. So I had high hopes. It was 2 in the afternoon, I downloaded the app and signed up as a paying user in less than 1 minute. Haven’t regretted it ever since.

Of course, in the beginning, the software had a few problems, bugs, but it’s been improving and getting more stable.

Shapr3D was actually what I was looking for.

When I am designing new furniture, building I need to give precise sketches to my team. The more precise sketches they get, the faster our design process will be.

Shapr3D did help us a lot in that sense.

Can you share a typical design workflow with us?

Sure. For example, I am designing the new furniture for the subway in Paris.

  1. I pick up my sketchpad first and use a pencil to put down some ideas.
  2. Then I use Adobe Photo Sketch to create a mix of drawings on my iPad Pro.
  3. Then I go to Shapr3D to have my sketches in 3D. Just to verify that the concept is right.
  4. If the concept seems right, I hand it over to my team to refine it.

Shapr3D helps a lot in the entire process. Here’s why. First I can make sure I don’t lie with the design on paper. I can quickly check if the proportions are right or not. So I can verify that the idea on paper is true. That it could be created in 3D efficiently. It’s like a quick step before a mockup.

Of course, I don’t go into every detail. I am not supposed to do that. It just helps me make sure the path I am taking is the right one.

Also, the iPad Pro has a flat surface in front of me. Just like a paper. I can concentrate better and my vision is more focused. It feels more natural than having a computer screen in front of me.

Where do you usually use Shapr3D?

I can design in a cafe, at home, or even in front of my clients. The other day I was in Macau, designing a restaurant. It will be a 1600 m2 restaurant. It’s just too big to imagine. Even the client didn’t understand. Especially because the room is only 3,5 meters high. So the proportions were just not good to sketch them on paper.

So I imported the plan of the space in Shapr3D and extruded the pillars. It took me less than a minute the visualize the whole space. I was able to able to navigate the space in front of the client, and it was immediately clear for everyone how I imagined the place to look like. I could also showcase the chair concept I had for the restaurant.

Studio for chairs, Macao restaurant

Another day I was working with the most famous French Chef, Alain Ducasse.

He is a 60-year-old, runs 23 restaurants. Alain is the chef of Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London.

I was designing a restaurant interior just in front of him, and he said:

“OK, I need this software.” – Alain Ducasse, three Michelin starred chef

He was also amazed that you basically need no prior design skill or knowledge to use the software. He was interested in how he can design a kitchen with Shapr3D.

Did it change your workflow in any other way?

I can take screenshots of my designs and use Pixelmator to draw on it. It takes about 1 hour now. Before it took me a whole day to do it.

So I can do complex things more precisely and also quicker.

That is a rare combination. Many tools that are fast, are usually not precise enough. Or if you want to be more precise, it slows you down. Shapr3D combined these two advantages together.

This also changed some other elements of my work.

Because I can verify designs faster, I can trash them easily.

This might be strange at first but think of it. When you spend too much time on something, you don’t want to destroy it. You are just in love with it if you spend too much time on it. When it becomes too advanced, you just don’t want to go back and trash the bad stuff.

In our client and agency workflow, Shapr3D helped a lot in speeding up processes. My goal has always been to make the clients and my team understand my intention, so they know where I want to go with the design. Now I can send them my ideas in 3D, so I give them something more precise that they can further refine in SolidWorks, Rhino or other tools.

Shapr3D is also a great tool that helps me choose. In fact, designing is choosing.

We all have a lot of ideas. But which one is the right one? The tool and the faster design workflow helps me to choose which one is the right idea.


What objects and designs do you create with the app?

I use it for a wide variety of things. As I mentioned, I create street furniture with it, design restaurants and interiors and many more.

Here’s a concept I did for a Restaurant in the south of France which is located in a chapel.

This is the chapel from the outside.

And this is the interior.

I also designed a few other restaurants in Macau, Monaco, a lamp I showcased in Milano at the Design Fair, tables, chairs.

Study for a Floor lamp, Nice, france

I also did a design study for a bar in Paris.

study for a bar in Paris by Patrick Jouin designed with Shapr3D

Using the image import function I also designed an architectural concept in Paris. Imported the plan of the area and quickly sketched the base of the buildings.

Architectural concept, avenue Zola, Paris

So as you can see the software is really versatile. I can use it for a wide variety of things which is really great. I often ask myself:

Shapr3D is only 1 year old, so if the version of today enables me to achieve all this what will the versions help me do in 1-2-3 years?