Best Equipment Set-Up for Designers (Updated 2022)
Modern designers have more access than ever to gadgets and devices that are designed to increase productivity and provide value. If you’re looking to work smarter and not harder, small investments can go a long way to allow you to focus on what you do best, design, instead of wrestling with technical aspects or even worse, suffering from poor posture or unsafe working conditions. The following are some of the best accessories and devices that can provide you with a safe, comfortable, and productive workspace.
A great asset to any designer in today’s day and age is a computer capable of handling most modern graphic design tasks, the latest iPad Pro delivers in spades.
Tablets used to be a lot less functional and powerful, and consequently weren’t good replacements for a reliable laptop or desktop computer. The latest tablets however are starting to show performance and reliability on par with and sometimes exceeding that of much bulkier laptops.
Apple’s newest iPad makes use of Liquid Retina display technology and has built-in functionality with the Apple Pencil. You can sketch freehand and add a level of personalisation and customisation to your designs just by using the Apple Pencil and Apple software.
With its signature AX12 Bionic chip under the hood, this tablet is capable of handling nearly any design work thrown at it. With over 10 hours of battery life and an extremely light weight, the iPad Pro offers great performance at a level of portability second to none.
Pros & Benefits
- High portability
- Solid specifications
- Light weight
A second monitor is a must for any serious designer. Having the ability to keep your working space on your screen neat and tidy is only possible with additional monitors, because you’re going to ideally have your design software occupy one without interrupting your work flow.
The ASUS MB169B+ 15.6″ Full HD monitor works with only a single USB connection and offers a vibrant 1920×1080 resolution.
This particular monitor has the advantage of being highly portable, something which should appeal to you whether you’re a digital nomad working out of coffee shops or shared working spaces or whether you’d just like to have an additional monitor set up quickly in your office.
One feature that’s becoming a must to combat eye fatigue and strain from continuous screen time in our modern lives is a blue light filter. This monitor comes with a blue light filter so that you can put in those extra hours without the excessive fatigue caused by many modern monitors.
Pros & cons:
- Single USB connection
- Ideal for travellers and digital nomads
- Built-in blue light filter
Working at a desk bears its own set of dangers. Whether it’s poor posture or non-ergonomic work spaces, your comfort and safety should be major considerations.
A good wrist rest for your mouse and keyboard are necessary to maintaining proper comfort and for avoiding the risks of developing wrist pain or carpal tunnel.
The Gimars Superfine Fibre mouse and keyboard wrist supports offer the great comfort of memory foam with a durability designed to last for long hours of continuous use. The rubber base below is non-skid and provides a solid grip so you don’t engage in unwanted movement whilst working.
Any investment into your home office setup should budget for a good quality wrist support system. They are often inexpensive options that can pay off in dividends, since you’re maintaining good posture and comfort, thus allowing you to continue working for longer hours when needed without damaging your wrists.
Pros & Benefits:
- Encourages good wrist posture
- Strong grip
Often when you’re preparing designs on-screen, you’ll notice that your colours will have a different effect than when they’re printed. A good quality Pantone Colour Guide can help you quickly have a look at how 1,845 colours look in a coated print form.
Whether you’re designing posters or other adverts meant to be printed, a coated colour guide can serve as a starting point for mixing and matching your palette so that it comes out looking just like you want it to.
Organised in a chromatic format, a good colour guide can also give you a quick way to visualise hues and contrasting colours that you may not have originally expected.
If you need to work with neon or metallic colours, you may wish to consider purchasing the full reference guide. This colour guide should be sufficient for day-to-day use, however, and makes a solid addition to any designer’s office.
Pros & Benefits:
- Quick and easy reference
- Contains RGB, CYMK, Hex codes
- Allows you to sample printed colour palettes
No doubt you’ve surely heard that sitting is the new smoking. With more and more jobs and lifestyles becoming sedentary, often for extended hours, maintaining a proper posture is key.
Back problems and improper posture go hand in hand. Sitting properly in an ergonomically-designed chair is a must if you spend any amount of time working at a desk. Luckily, the market for ergonomic office equipment, and especially chairs, has grown commensurately with our changing lifestyles.
This ergonomic office chair is made of a breathable mesh material and therefore promotes good air circulation. Whatever the season, you’ll find that you’ll get proper air circulation and a comfortable sitting experience.
Equipped with a headrest for those extra long sessions, this office chair maintains functionality without sacrificing a clean and simple form.
This chair is adjustable and can be moved forward and back as well as up and down, meaning that you can easily adjust it to your preferences while maintaining good posture at all times.
Pros & Benefits
- Ergonomic and comfortable
- Simple yet functional
A quality graphics drawing tablet is an essential companion for your laptop or desktop. Whether you’re sketching or want the ability to operate your cursor via stylus, the Huion H420 USB Graphics Drawing Tablet Board Kit provides the functionality of both in a small and compact form.
Similar to the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, having the ability to draw freehand to your computer is necessary and can be a lot more comfortable and natural than using a mouse.
Furthermore, these devices are great if you’re doing presentations on a blackboard, like Khan Academy. Maths equations, rough sketches, or just jotting down the occasional notes can feel much more natural and executed much more quickly with a styles than through other peripherals.
This drawing tablet works with most major graphic design programs and doesnt skip a beat in terms of quality.
Installation is a breeze, as this device is Plug & Play. Take it with you on the go. This device is small and compact, yet big enough to feel comfortable using for sketches and design.
Ideal whether you’re a digital nomad and always on the go or if you just want something clean, simple, yet functional, this graphics drawing tablet is a solid addition.
Pros & Benefits:
- Easy installation
- Natural yet functional
Your online privacy has never been a bigger concern. Keeping yourself safe online and minimising opportunities for outside threats can be done in large part by a good VPN.
Especially for those that are on the go and make use of airport or cafe networks, your privacy is at a great risk of exposure to hackers and network monitoring. A VPN can give you peace of mind when using public networks and more importantly allow you to browse the internet without worrying about your data being compromised.
Unfortunately, many free VPN solutions do not offer the quality and protection that a paid solution offers. Furthermore, many supposedly free VPN solutions have little to no customer service or support.
Luckily, NordVPN has a solid industry reputation for offering an easy-to-use and robust level of online privacy and protection. The NordVPN Internet Privacy & Security Software contains an 18-Month VPN subscription for up to 6 devices, and supports a wide range of operating systems including Mac, PC, and iOS.
Customer support is available around the clock via email, live chat, or over the phone.
This subscription offers a high level of VPN encryption and can protect you from hackers and outside monitoring. Sensitive data, including your design work, can be compromised without a VPN. In the age of GDPR and other such regulatory frameworks being put up to enforce data protection and prevent breaches, a good VPN is no longer a nicety but rather an essential product for everyday use.
Pros & Benefits:
- High level encryption
- Essential for travellers and digital nomads
- Protects your sensitive data and designs
Document and data storage on the cloud is becoming more and more fashionable and convenient for many users. There are times, however, where you want to have a reliable means to access your data offline. External hard drives are a solid go-to when you want to access your files without a reliable internet connection, such as on the train or when you’re travelling in an area with spotty connections.
The WD 4TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive is designed with portability in mind, meaning that you can pack it comfortably in your carry-on. Weighing nearly half a pound and with a capacity of 4TB, you’ll have plenty of storage for your data in a small and lightweight device.
Data storage used to be costly and had miniscule capacity. Even by today’s standards, 4TB is plenty of space and can handle plenty of high-resolution video files. Graphic designers can rest assured that 4TB can handle plenty of files.
This latest version of WD’s external hard drives takes advantage of USB 3.0 technology, meaning you can transfer your data over in a jiffy.
The WD industry standards of quality and reliability mean that your data can be kept safe and sound.
Pros & Benefits:
- Light weight and portable
- Huge capacity
- Reputable brand
No, it’s not the widely-recognised industry leader that the Adobe Suite offers. The reality is that for some folks, it’s just not always the best option.
Whether your foremost consideration is price or you don’t expect to make full use of what Photoshop can do, Paintshop Pro 2019 Ultimate is an affordable alternative built on user ideas and requests.
While it’s possible to find many completely free alternatives such as Gimp and Inkscape, these software applications can be daunting and overwhelming for newer users. Furthermore, they each tend to target a specific need and lack the flexibility offered by a more complete package such as Paintshop Pro 2019.
Paintshop Pro 2019 contains a solid package of software applications for most of your graphic design needs. Whether you need photo editing, image correction, creative content solutions, and more, you’re well-covered with the Ultimate package’s robust software applications.
Pros & Benefits:
- Affordable alternative to Photoshop
- Built with users in mind
- Great introductory product with great flexibility
A good stylus can be just as crucial as a good mouse and keyboard. Good grip, comfort, ease of use and reliability, and adustable stylus tips can make your stylus your most flexible peripheral.
This rechargeable stylus pen is compatible with most modern smartphones and tablets. It’s highly sensitive and precise, offering you greater control whether you’re taking notes or just sketching your designs freehand.
Charged in 1-2 hours via micro USB, this stylus can give you 8-10 hours of continuous use before being recharged.
It’s easy to use. Just click the button on the top of the pen to turn it on and start writing. The pen automatically turns off after 30 minutes of not being used, or by clicking the top button once again. No bluetooth or app are required, just turn on and begin using immediately.
This stylus is made of superior quality and is designed to be used comfortably for longer periods of use. Comfort should be one of your primary considerations when looking for a stylus, as you’re likely to be using it for extended periods and need it to be reliable and precise.
This stylus offers both reliability and precision with its 1.4mm super fine copper-pointed tip. This is important for detailed work. An imprecise stylus can lead to sloppy work and frustration. Save yourself the headache and invest in a good quality stylus.
Pros & Benefits:
- Easy to use; no bluetooth or app required
- Great precision
- Compatible with most modern smartphones and tablets
If you find yourself doing a fair bit of printing or would like to showcase your portfolio, a good quality laminator can help protect some of your more important work.
Being able to laminate photographs, collages of your design work for your portfolio, or physical card-sized adverts adds a tactile and protective layer that can keep your important documents safe and lasting longer.
The AmazonBasics Thermal Laminator is able to heat up in less than 4 minutes and laminate documents up to 9 inches long. This includes business cards, photographs, and normal documents.
Any designer knows the importance of being able to showcase their portfolio work. Whether you’re trying to retain more clients or applying to graduate school, a clean and well-designed portfolio is sometimes handy to have in printed form. Lamination helps keep your work in good condition and durable enough to be used for multiple occasions. Printing less helps the environment and reduces your ink consumption.
Its small and compact size means that it won’t take up too much space in your home or office and can be tucked away if you only plan to use it occasionally. Weighing less than 3 pounds also means that you could take it with you if necessary.
Pros & Benefits:
- Two different thicknesses of lamination
- Able to laminate documents up to 9 inches long
- Great value for money
It’s a habit for many to have their smartphone at their side at all times. This includes whilst working at the office.
Wireless chargers can be a great addition for those that just can’t leave their phone more than an arm’s length away. If you haven’t used one before, it’s very straightforward. Place your phone on the charger and that’s it, your phone will charge without being plugged in.
The Yootech Wireless Charger Qi-Certified 7.5W Wireless Charger works with most modern smartphones, but be sure to read the product description if you’re unsure if your phone is compatible.
This charger incorporates temperature control technology, which will control the charging temperature of your phone and provide surge protection as needed. Newer Samsung phones seem to have corrected many of the heating problems created by their old phones, but it’s always nice to have an extra layer of protection.
Wireless chargers don’t generally charge as fast as a direct port connection, but the tradeoff is convenience and the ability to quickly access your phone without worrying about cables and cords.
The clean and minimalistic style will help to keep your work space tidy and free of cable clutter. If you’re checking your phone every once in awhile, you probably won’t notice the sligthly slower charge time but will surely be thankful for the convenience provided.
Pros & Benefits:
- Clean and simple style
- Ease of use; place phone on top and that’s it
- Keeps working space free of clutter
A good surge protector is a must for modern electronics to stay safe from excess voltage.
The AmazonBasics 3-Outlet Surge Protector with 2 USB Ports has a clean yet functional design and occupies less space than traditional bar surge protectors. 3 North American outlets and 2 USB ports should allow you to comfortably attach your home office electronics all in one place.
Power outages and spikes in voltage can be damaging and result in a loss in data. Even if it happens rarely, all it takes is one major spike to fry your expensive electronics.
This surge protector provides 900 joules of protection and a green LED indicator is displayed when safely plugged in.
The 2 USB outlets provide 1.0A and 2.4A of charge, which is ideal for most modern tablets and smartphones. It’s also helpful for charging devices for which you don’t have or want to use the wall outlet.
Pros & Benefits:
- Compact and minimal design
- 2 USB ports
- Keeps your electronics safe
Whether you’re just starting to build your office for design or are looking for great quality accessories to assist you in your day-to-day work, these tools can help you focus on staying productive and comfortable.
Products are being designed more and more with users in mind as well as comfort and ergonomics, so there’s no shortage of solutions that are tailored to keeping you focussed and getting your work done efficiently and comfortably.
Not only are many of these accessories great investments, but you’ll often find that they won’t break the bank yet provide you with value for your dollar.