Harris Kalinka

Imagery + Animation Golf + Architecture

Monday 9th May 2016

The top 13 cliches in architectural visualisation

We’re not suggesting any of these make a bad render, or you should avoid them, because if you look through our own work you’ll find we’re just as guilty as everyone
else in the industry.

This list is just a bit of fun and shows some of the methods we (the industry) resort to when we need to fill some space or indulge a client.

A few of these could be considered old school cliches and are seen less frequently, but they’ve made the list because we still smile when we see them.

So here they are, the top 13 cliches in no particular order.

1. Mac book

For an industry that predominantly uses PCs we have a strong preference for placing Apple products in our renders.

2. Apocolyptic weather

Some renders are so moody it looks like the end of the world is near. We personally love this and are delighted clients are moving away from insisting on blue skies.

3. Lemons

It seems sometimes the easiest way to make a kitchen look better is to add not just one, but a whole bowl of lemons on the worktop – everyone must be making a lot of lemonade. If you want to make your render look really classy ditch the lemons and try figs or artisan bread.

4. Bottle of wine

The token bottle of wine and half empty glasses, suggesting someone has had a very good evening.

5. Eames chair

This is an old one, but you’ll still see it now and again. If it’s not Eames then it might be the Model 3107 or Barcelona chair. Just remember if you are going to show the Eames lounge chair don’t forget the Ottoman.

6. Birds

A flock of birds (or sometimes butterflies) conveniently flying past. We don’t think this one will ever go out of fashion.

7. Coffee table books

A stack of architectural or contemporary art books on the coffee table. Sometimes one will be open which spoils the entire render, because we all know no one ever looks at these books.

8. Fallen leaves

Fallen leaves would suggest it is autumn, so make sure the rest of the render tells the same story.

9. Super car

It always makes us smile when we see a Lamborghini parked outside an affordable housing scheme. Having said that, the way the property market is going if you can buy an ‘affordable’ house you can probably buy a super car too.

10. Balloons

The addition of children running around with balloons (or a kite) is guaranteed to produce the feelgood chemicals in our brain and make us feel happy about a project.

11. Impossibly beautiful people

Who would have thought everyone was so good looking in the architecture industry. There’s also a good chance the impossibly beautiful person will be practising yoga.

12. Light trails

This is one borrowed from our friends the architectural photographers. No dusk render is complete until you have added the luminous streaks of red and white.

13. Lens flare

Last but by no means least the lens flare is the grand daddy of all cliches. They used to be almost mandatory but the industry has really cut back on them. We feel proud.


Let us know if we missed any and we’ll add them to the list.