The Smart List is a monthly list of multi-media recommendations on everything design, curated by Interwoven Design. In this issue we share the design staples that our team would never be without. These are objects that we carry around and use constantly. If by some tragedy they are not available, we get sad. If we find a store that sells them, we get happy. It is not a coincidence that most of them are office supplies, as getting our thoughts on paper is critical to the design process. We love tools that are a delight to use, and these are some of our favorites.
Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pens
Muji’s Gel Ink Ballpoint Pens are available in a range of tip sizes and a rainbow of colors. At $1.50 each they are an incredible value, featuring smooth writing action, quick-drying ink, and great consistency of color. Get one each of the rainbow and black packs and you’ll be set to sketch your design heart out.
The Field Notes co-founder Aaron Draplin was inspired by promotional memo books that were sent to American farmers by agricultural companies throughout the 20th century, collecting hundreds of these vintage booklets bursting with the charm of old school graphic design. The brand is always releasing limited edition books and changing up their diverse offerings. We like the classic small and medium sizes but find the style that works for you. We always have one of these in our bags or in our pockets, ready to take notes or do a quick sketch at all times!
Neiko Digital Caliper
The Neiko Digital Caliper is our first, our last, our everything. A designer is lost without a precise measuring tool, and this is our caliper of choice. Convert between measuring modes rapidly with one button, measure with accuracy up to 0.001” / 0.02mm, measure interior, exterior, and depth dimensions easily with the various probes, and read the results easily on the large LCD screen. Trust us, once you have this baby, you’ll want to measure everything.
This one kind of goes without saying in the design industry, and there are really good reasons why. The iPhone has superb customer support, gets the best apps first, makes digital payments fast and easy, and pairs beautifully with other Apple products. It has great, intuitive user interface and incredible hardware and software integration compared to Android alternatives, which is the benefit of Apple owning the entire device. Oh, and it’s effortless to upgrade operating systems. Solid camera and video specs, too. If you don’t have one and it seems like we’re judging you…we are sorry in advance.
We especially love funky sneakers for summer so pick your poison, the market is overflowing with fun trainers. Our favorite brands at the moment are embracing sustainability and highlighting the climate crisis, including Thousand Fell, the first recyclable sneaker, and the Adidas x Allbirds collaboration made in part with recycled materials for a low carbon footprint. Bonus item if you need them: funky glasses!
Sticky Notes, Highlighters & Sharpies!
The design industry must be one of the largest consumers of Post-Its in the world. Most of the designers we know look like they are single-handedly keeping sticky notes in business, and we are no exception (especially the orange ones!). While we love a good digital tool, there is no substitute for good old markers and stickies when it comes to brainstorming, concept development, mind-mapping, and so much more. The abundant volumes of Sharpies in our lives is a sight to behold…and yes, we need them all. You know how some people can’t be without lip balm? We are like that with Sharpies. To a non-designer it might seem like we have a problem but other designers don’t bat an eye. They get it.