Nike industrial drafting table
Words by Steve Gresham
When I first set up my design business in 1989, I acquired a Nike industrial drafting table, made in the Swedish town of Eskilstuna in the 1950s. I have used this table every day I’ve been in my studio for the past 27 years — I estimate that I’ve spent in excess of 30,000 hours sitting at it.
It came from the Alvis Car and Engineering Company, which made cars and armoured vehicles. When the factory closed, the board was on its way to being scrapped. I spied it in a workshop, half wrapped in a tarpaulin and covered in dust. I was told that if I didn’t take possession it would be in the skip that afternoon. I couldn’t believe that such a fine piece could not have a value, and I’m so glad I rescued it.
The physical act of drawing on paper is an integral part of the design process — I do my thinking at the drafting table as I develop the design, analysing and refining seamlessly. Even as computer technology gets more impressive, the information still has to come from the designer.
I do use computers, but I use my laptop sitting at my drawing board. The board moves in all directions, thanks to a hydraulic central leg, so that I can get a different perspective of my work — I can tilt the board to the vertical and stand back to check the proportions of a new design without having to pin the drawing to a wall.
Having such a generously sized board means that I can fit a 120 metre yacht at a scale of 1:100 – with room to spare. In fact, I could fit a 150 metre yacht but any bigger and I would need to reduce the scale because I couldn’t replace this old friend. I just love it as an object and piece of engineering.