Are whiteboards dead? - Chirography in the age of digital

Updated: Aug 11

A case for the traditional writing board

Whilst penning down this post I found myself going back to the drawing board more than once. And yes, the irony wasn't lost on me, as I was in fact sat in front of my MacBook, no pen or writing board in sight.

Now why is that relevant? Well I am exploring if there is room for the traditional writing board in our futures, or even our nows.

Devices such as the Microsoft Surface Hub, Samsung Flip and many more digital alternatives have already proven an effective replacement, offering a host of added features such content sharing, video calling and portrait mode to make the traditional writing board seem almost silly.

And these devices even take advantage of the benefits hand writing has on our brains by mimicking the familiar feeling of the writing experience. So does that mean we just move on and say goodbye to the days of felt pens, magnetic erasers and powder residue on our shirts?

And the answer is, no.

We have not had a single commercial project where the traditional writing board has not been on the list of must haves. People want them, but for a completely different reason than we realise...

Creativity is messy

If you have ever jotted down a thought, chances are it wasn't in calligraphy or even a straight line, and there is something forgiving about a writing board when it comes to creative chaos. In the same breath there is something very annoying about things that are not perfectly aligned on digital.

Offline, no problem

Having one less thing in your life to plug in is a good thing. Aside from the on-trend retro appeal, being able to engage with something that is always on, always ready and doesn't have blue light and electric signals bouncing about has a certain primal draw. Whilst slate finish black boards date back to 1801, we were writing on cave wall long before then.

Going, going, gone

Writing boards are wonderfully forgiving. There is no digital footprint of those awkward spelling mistakes, nothing gets recorded or archived, leaving you to simply be free and put down your thoughts. Even when collaborating with team members, writing boards have this wonderful ability of blending into the background when they are not needed.

Magnets, magnets, magnets

Maybe someone has figured this one out for digital displays, but being able to pop a magnet on a writing board is wonderfully satisfying, especially when it comes to physical items that are better engaged with in real life. Making yet another good case for keeping whiteboards around.

The more I think about it, the purpose of the writing board has never really changed. It was never meant as a pristine presentation space, a place to wow and impress, but instead a mental sandbox, to place ideas and thoughts on that were always going to be fleeting, and evolve. Having this coincide with something quite simple and non-tech feels completely appropriate.

Now all this being said, as designers we must point out that not all writing boards are made equal and there are a couple of things we look for in the perfect writing board.

1. Choose metal or glass

Plastic cover particle board is never the answer. Whilst inexpensive the durability and tactile feel is almost distressing, Opt for writing boards that are made from ceramic steel or glass for the best writing experience. For those who love a bit of old school nostalgia slate writing boards with chalk are ever so much fun.

2. Care about the finish

Writing boards take up vast amounts of space on any wall or floor. Picking a fixed or mobile board that is aesthetically pleasing elevates your space and we are convinced your ideas will be better too.

3. Double up

Writing boards are also great opportunities to achieve better sound management. Products that have sound absorbing properties will help keep noises contained especially in smaller meeting rooms or open areas. We have also used mobile writing boards to double up as room dividers when not in use to help keep distractions to a minimum.

So in conclusion, and a happy one at that, writing boards are here to stay. And thanks to amazing designers and manufactures they need not be ordinary and boring either.

Please feel free to reach out should you need help with picking the right options for your space.

Siblingz Design Studio

Copyright 2022

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