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Why We Emphasize 2D Design over 3D Renderings


As technology surrounding 3D renderings has advanced, many design companies have begun to abandon the emphasis on an initial 2D landscape design phase--and the reasons for this are obvious. 3D designs offer clients an incredible level of detail, and bring their new space to life in a way pen and paper cannot.


While Water and Earth is well versed in the best of 3D rendering software, we are hesitant to overlook the importance of 2D landscape designs in the project process. Renderings of a space are great once our clients know what they’re looking for, but in the initial design steps, can be more of a hindrance than a help in allowing an overall vision for a space to take shape.


In fact, during the beginning of the design process, we will almost always present 2D designs first before a digital image is ever composed. Why is this our standard practice? There are a few key reasons.


Design Without Distraction


To us, the first few stages of design are about laying the groundwork and conveying the overall direction of the design. In order to do this efficiently, we feel it’s important not to distract or confuse clients. 2D renderings allow us to give our clients a great idea of what is possible in their outdoor living space without getting them caught up in minute details.


2D designs have the ability to create beautiful visuals of what an outdoor living space can become, without suggesting inflexibility. In the first stages of design, it’s important for us to work with clients during viewings of design concepts to modify large focus areas, or redirect critical elements of the design. Minimizing distractions with 2D concepts is a great way for us to streamline this process, and provide our clients with designs that signal mood, intent, concept, and direction before proceeding to 3D renderings.


Navigating The Space and Infrastructure


Part of understanding your new space is being able to visualize how you will travel through it. Experience has shown us that the broad aspects of a 2D presentation allow for our clients to better grasp how the design is laid out. They’re more easily able to image scale, see how each part of the space works together. This is especially helpful when making changes.


Water and Earth will always enter consultations with two design concepts (A and B), each containing variations on different elements. The broad view of a 2D design gives our clients a better view of how these designs differ, how space is being used differently, and an easier scope of reference for picking what they like and don’t like.

Between the two designs, they can choose what parts work, and which don’t. The simplicity of the infrastructure conveyed by 2D designs allows for easier modification and blending of design elements, giving our clients more control over their final product. A great example of the 2D design process can be seen in the walkthrough of the design process for this San Jose modern Spanish revival.


Accessibility Allows For Feedback


Water and Earth’s mission with every project we take on is to create a space that is a reflection of our clients wishes. We truly value every space independently, and want to consider the lifestyle and preferences of our clients as they apply to these spaces. For this reason, we put a high level of emphasis on feedback, and great feedback is easier to give when a client isn’t overwhelmed.


We’ve found that entering initial consultations with an immediate 3D rendering is a double edged sword. While it’s incredible to see a detailed rendering of what your space could look like, today’s models are often so detailed, so specific, and so refined that it can be hard for clients to process what they’re looking at.


We believe that the simplicity of leading with 2D designs gives every new project a greater opportunity to evolve. Clients can see the potential in their space, without feeling as though what is being proposed has already been finalized. This creates room to create a dialogue about what parts of the design a client is excited about, and which they are unsure about.


As a whole, when the first stage of design remains accessible, our clients are able to understand what they are looking at on a deeper level. This leads to a scenario where clients are empowered to give constructive feedback, and we’re enabled to provide them a space that is truly tailored to their individual wants and needs.


Client Centered Design


While 3D renderings have their place in the design process, we feel that place is not in the initial designs steps. Once 2D designs have been presented, and clients have been allowed to get a good grasp on the direction and style of their new space, then we will move into digital renderings.


We feel this approach allows us to center our mission to prioritize our client’s vision for their space and make modifications without pushing through an overly completed design.


For a look at some of our ongoing projects and a peek into the design process, visit our Instagram!



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