Design the life you want: JJ Acuna’s key to a nomadic creative life is an iPad Pro

This is what it takes to go from being tethered to your desk to productivity on the go according to the Hong Kong-based architect

After 10 years of toiling the corporate grind, most times architect/interior designer and other-times teacher and blogger, JJ Acuna upped and left without looking back.

He now does his own thing, living the freedom of being his own boss life and yet finds the time to blog about how he’s doing it all as theWanderlister. Without an expensive set-up afforded by a full-time corporate gig, how does he stay nimble without compromising on the quality of his work?

The answer to his freedom lies in the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, armed to the teeth with an arsenal of creative apps.

“No longer is the practice split between studio and field work, with these location-agnostic tools, the studio can be set up within the field and right where the client wants you to be. As a design startup working in the overall Southeast Asia region, this flexibility is necessary because productivity happens wherever I am at any moment.”

Even though his practice is still underpinned by work that he does with the usual software suspects like AutoCad and SketchUp on his laptop and desktop setups, he finds freedom in the cloud with the mobile versions of Dropbox, Autocad 360 and SketchUp.

“As soon as i've walked through projects in a simulation 3D in real time with my clients via the iPad Pro. My technical team in Manila can get updates as soon as my client gives them on the spot.

I screenshot the 2D and 3D models, and use the Good Notes app to markup comments with Apple Pencil, any changes or updates requested by the client, I email these JPGs or PDF exports to my design team.”

When the iPad Pro first made its appearance last year, it didn't receive the best reviews given that it was packing iOS instead of macOS (or OS X as it was known at that point). However, what is perceived as its Archilles heel is actually what makes it so popular with the creative industry - a vast landscape of apps that make it easy to create backed up with enough horsepower to keep everything running seamlessly. 

And it seems that JJ Acuna would agree: 

"Being an entrepreneur is hard, especially when we all worry about set-up, operating costs, mobility and ease of presenting to clients in any and every environment. I felt that a mix of the iPad Pro and the MacBook Pro would cover all bases when it comes to productivity and ease of use as a start-up.

And so far that’s proven to be the case."