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If you are a designer or an architecture student, we believe you must at least have some modelling experience! Some may see it as a tedious task because creating a 3D model requires patience and meticulousness, along with dark under-eye circles and back pain as a bonus. But for three partners from the Faculty of Architecture – Silpakorn University see it as one of the most enjoyable steps.
One day, they decided to become full-time architectural modellers. Despite the fact that their Facebook page ‘adoorstudio’ was only created four years ago, they have a diverse client base that includes designers, notable architects, and homeowners who wish to collect replicas for display.
Start on a path to a new career
from Architecture Student to Model-Maker.
Since they were young, these three have had a fondness for miniatures, dollhouses, and trinkets, as shown on prominent Japanese TV shows such as TV Champion. They were good friends in school, studying and working on projects together until they started to notice that they all really enjoyed the model-cutting process.
“We feel excited when we see our designs for a house, or any other project come to life. We love that process and think we could do it well. After we graduated, we decided to talk about what these hobbies may lead to.”
Adoorstudio page was created in 2019 as COVID- 19 expanded throughout in Thailand. The first uncertainty we faced was budget control in many companies. It was unclear whether there will be any orders. Fortunately, with the opportunity from friends and seniors in the faculty, we were widely known in the industry through word of mouth. Today, the breadth of adoorstudio’s work ranges from architectural to building, structure, landscape, Surrounding, and interior design.
“We believe a designer or a Model-Maker has more in common than differences.”
“A designer or an architect may design based on the customer’s needs. To generate design work, they must start from scratch and consider context and law. A Model-Maker also designs. Instead, they design the presentation method. That is, how should they create the model so that they can communicate the work most effectively? What materials will respond to the customer’s needs? The model maker may be less pressured because the designers have to take into account the reality and the impact of space utilization.”
Designers must first discuss their demands with clients before creating anything. The Model-Makers themselves are no different. All three partners agreed that the first step was to properly identify their customers’ demands. What kind of model do they want, what scale do they want, and what material do they want to utilize with the model? Do they want any lighting or any special functions such as an opening roof to expose the inside space? These will have an impact on the mood of the work. By doing so, the model maker can ensure their work meets the customer’s expectations as much as possible.
What makes model-making exciting is that sometimes customers come from fields other than architecture. For example, one homeowner would like to have a model of his house as a souvenir. He might not have any specific knowledge in the field of design. So, the trio had to provide recommendations on the desired mood and tone or develop a model that best fulfils his expectations. Then, they will study the plan utilizing the construction plan and the rendered file or 3D model file (if applicable) and will carefully arrange which parts should be produced first to make the work as smoothly as possible.
“Normally, we do the hand-cutting work. Although the laser cut is neater, we found the hand-cutting technique more attractive. It gives a smooth finish, without laser scorched markings. We only use laser cutting with delicate works such as texture making or very detailed works. So, if there is no 3D file or not a very complex task, we need to understand the work as much as possible and review the plan in the first place, because 90% of the work is a hand-cut job which makes it quite difficult to make changes along the way.”
“For medium-sized models with little detail, it normally takes a week or two depending on the material the customer selects, ranging from a model that utilizes only one material to a model that requires colouring to be realistic. The latter will take more time because we will need to choose different materials and colours for different components to match each other.”
Designer signatures are more important.
Designers must seek inspiration or references to employ in their work. So, we wondered if the model makers themselves followed those processes. The three model makers responded as follows:
“Yes, we frequently watch a YouTube channel. He’s an architect from another country who employs models in his presentations. In our opinion, there are more modelling alternatives than in Thailand, and they like to experiment with those options and adapt certain materials to what they have, such as using a tile sample as a model base or a brown short-haired rug as grass.”
“However, a famous designer typically has their unique signature on their work. Our work must present the signatures of those designers. Although we aim to include our signatures into our works through material selections, we don’t go overboard since we want to highlight the designers’ work and make it stand out.”
In a technological world with cutting-edge presentation techniques,
can a hand-cut model survive?
” If presentation technology becomes more sophisticated in the future, we think that people may be paying less attention to models. But on the other hand, we think it could be a more budget-friendly option, and more catering to those who do not have access to those technologies, or even in terms of sentimental value, we sometimes see models as more than just a presentation but craftwork that can be exhibited.”
The trio also added that they planned to make a miniature model house for customers who like to collect trinkets or handicrafts, and for people other than designers who want to collect model houses but don’t know where to find them. We should expect to see some of these model houses in the future if they don’t get overwhelmed by the time and the increasing workload.
“The model is something that is more accessible and more tangible to people. A 3D image or something on a computer is sometimes intangible. But when there is a model, the customers will see the real space and can visualize and understand the plan more accurately. In addition to being utilized for presentations, sometimes it is also a souvenir for customers or can be displayed at the office as a portfolio. Sometimes the architect would bring it to the project site to allow technicians or contractors to inspect the design or even use it as a presentation for contractors or technicians at the job site, making it more convenient than opening the computer to check the plan all the time.”
The Challenges of Becoming a Model Maker
“Most of the problems are the plans because the presentation process always comes in the latter stages. This means the designer has perfectly designed the plan. Sometimes, among the same plans we received, some positions are not the same for instance the pillar positions on the floor plan or the side plan are not the same or even the plan and the 3D are different. We have to recheck these details. Sometimes the project owner is not a designer. We have to understand and conclude the work as we deem appropriate.
In another scenario, there is urgent work whose design is not 100% finished. The difficulty is that we must have better time management or better work planning, constantly coordinate with the designer, and update the design according to the set timeline. If the design changes, we must figure out how to modify while causing minimal damage to the model.”
Since making a model is not an easy job and not everyone can do it well because it requires refinement, perseverance, patience and understanding of the plan, this profession is therefore regarded as a speciality occupation and a component of design that many may have overlooked.
“A lot of people say that Model Makers do not design anything. They’re more like labour. Some people expressed regret and asked why we chose to do a model after graduating from the faculty of architecture. However, we believe that it is more advantageous that we graduated from this faculty. We comprehend the designers. We can predict what they want. This allows us to better deliver work to our customers.
We believe that this career must go hand in hand with designers because we are the supporters who assist to fulfill their job. We may call designers our clients. But at the end of the road, the final consumer is the homeowner or the building owner. In the end, it is that we strive to do the finest job for the same set of consumers.”