TL; DR: Morpholio delivers a suite of apps that helps nearly any image-driven professional, including architects, designers, photographers, and engineers, tap into their creativity using the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Pencil. The company’s products — Morpholio, Board, Trace, and Journal — provide solutions for sketching, journaling collaborating, and presenting work in a tactile way. With regular developments based on user feedback, Morpholio is working to continuously reinvent the creative process for users across the globe.
Computer-based art and design tools have had a positive impact on a range of fields over the past decade, allowing users to manipulate digital media in new ways while expanding creative possibilities.
But they present a glaring limitation when it comes to tangibility. Artistic minds are wired to prefer hands-on activities involving tactile materials, which studies show boost creativity and focus.
Apple helped solve this problem with the 2015 introduction of its first-generation iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, which empowered users to draw, doodle, sketch, and write using a digital pencil that feels like the real thing.
The iPad Pro and Apple Pencil are fine for basic note-taking purposes, but with the right software, these technologies really shine. The architects, programmers, and academics behind Morpholio know this and have been working to harness Apple’s technology to reinvent the creative process since 2011.
“The Morpholio product suite is centered on the ability to reincorporate sketching and drawing in the design process,” said Joseph (Joey) Swerdlin, Community Director at Morpholio. “This has provided significant benefits to our users, as has the ability to access designs tools at your fingertips while on the go.”
Between Morpholio, a portfolio solution; Board, a mood board app for interior designers; Trace, a sketching tool for designers and architects; and Journal, a digital Moleskine sketchbook, the company’s apps run the gamut.
Ultimately, through regular developments on all products based on user feedback, Morpholio is working to continuously improve the creative process for users across the globe.
Harnessing Technology to Enable Tactile Design
Morpholio is the brainchild of four co-founders who met through the Graduate School of Architecture at Columbia University. In their own practice and research, they shared an interest in technology and a curiosity about how the development of the cloud, social networking, and mobile devices would shape the creative process.
The New York City-based architects ultimately came together to create software for the iPad, iPhone, and Apple Pencil that would merge the precision of the touch screen with the fluidity of hands-on creativity. Together, the co-founders experimented with a variety of app ideas before committing to the quartet of solutions it provides today.
Today, the project is supported by an advisory council of 200 prominent designers, architects, programmers, and artists from studios and universities across the globe — including students and professors from Columbia, Harvard, the Architecture Association School of Architecture in London, MIT, Princeton, and the School of Visual Arts.
“Architects make up the core of the company, and we aim to find ways to harness new technology to improve the design process for other architects and designers,” Joey said. “With our suite of four different apps, we’ve been able to bring the tactility that exists within the hand-drawing process into the digital landscape.”
Joey told us customers say the software is also beneficial for those who spent their education and early careers using tools like hand drawing desks.
“A lot of our users who have moved into leadership roles tell us that they don’t always have the computer skills necessary to be directly involved in the digital design process,” he said. “Morpholio provides considerable benefits to them in terms of reconnecting with the process; for example by being able to draw on top of 3D models created by the design team.”
Sketch, Present, and Collaborate Using Morpholio & Journal
Morpholio’s eponymous application provides architects, designers, photographers, and other creatives with the ability to build, present, and share their portfolios via one platform.
The software was designed for flexibility and ease of use with a stunning but minimalist interface and the ability to change titles, covers, and images at any time. In terms of mobility, the portfolio syncs seamlessly with all devices, supports high-resolution images for presentation at scale, and allows users to share work via email and social media channels.
Morpholio’s collaboration tools allow creatives to view curated galleries of work from top users, follow friends and collaborators, and display their own work to the world. With features like EyeTime, users can quickly determine which images and collections are most popular.
Morpholio Journal, on the other hand, is a digital sketchbook created through a partnership with Moleskine Notebooks, an Italian provider of luxury cardboard-bound notebooks with a passionate consumer base.
The application, available for free with optional subscription plans, brings Moleskin’s iconic cover into the digital world, where users can write, sketch, or design to their heart’s content. The product is intended for a wide range of users, from fashion designers and tattoo artists to event planners and real-estate professionals. Teachers, students, and children also use the app to sketch, doodle, and jot down notes.
“I NEVER leave reviews but had to for this,” said customer TessQ in a review on the app store. “It seriously just ticks all of the boxes I’ve been looking for. Clean and attractive set up (not bright or obnoxious like others), flippable pages, changeable backgrounds, AND nothing important is hidden behind a paywall. Any paid features are extras, not necessities, which is a great change.”
Trace & Board: Ideal Tools For Architects and Designers
Described by the company as “dream software” for designers and architects, Morpholio Trace functions at the intersection of manual drafting and computer-aided design (CAD) software. The tool was created for architecture and design professionals but can be used to bring life to nearly any creative design process.
With Trace, users can sketch buildings and objects, lay out renovation plans, mark up construction site photos, draw floor plans and elevations at scale, and easily export drawing sets, among countless other features.
“As with other design fields, a core challenge in architectural design is the overwhelming presence of digital media,” Joey said. “It has helped expand functionality, but it has also removed a sense of immediacy and tactility that Morpholio Trace is trying to reintroduce. There’s something about that moment when pen touches paper, or in this case the screen.”
The company has recently added the capacity to use Apple’s augmented reality features (ARKit) within Trace, empowering users to draw objects at scale using “AR Perspective Finder” or even “walk” around a plan to get a feel of the space with “AR SketchWalk”.
Apple’s machine learning features are featured prominently in Board, Morpholio’s digital mood board and product library for interior designers. The app uses these smart tools to make sourcing and editing easier while effortlessly laying out, collaging, and illustrating inspiring workspaces.
“Our Board app uses machine learning to identify similar objects, such as furniture in a particular color or shape,” Joey said. “We’re always advancing and incorporating these new technologies into these analog forms of designing and thinking.”
Continuous Improvements Based on User Feedback
The internal development process at Morpholio is primarily dictated by feedback from customers. The company actively seeks such input, considering it vital to future success.
“So many of our improvements come from our community,” Joey told us. “We are in very close contact with hundreds of users who are always excited to see the features they suggest incorporated into the app.”
These suggestions can including anything from simple touch gestures that make the software easier to use to transformative features altering the way users interact with the software. Of course, Morpholio also follows Apple’s developments with a close eye.
“Apple continues to be at the forefront of AR development and we’re excited to keep promoting and expanding our AR-related features. We’re always working to innovate the design process and bring it to the next level,” Joey said.