Base design advice

Hello all

I need to do some spring cleaning on the rather large Airtable base I have been using for the past 18 months or so which tracks several things relating to a touring exhibition I am working on - and could do with some advice to make sure I get it right. The database has grown organically without much (any) planning so now is the time to put that right.

This may be a long post - apologies.

I use Airtable for several tasks relating to the exhibition. Such as -

Object tracking - keeps tabs on the various objects that are on display at the exhibition. Owner, value, maintenance instructions etc. I have a separate table for condition reports (a report is done each time the object is moved to a new museum) and a separate table for Crates so that we can track which crate each object is in. There is also a loan agreement for each object which are also stored in a separate table and linked to the object. The excellent On2AIr docs then creates Object Info PDFs, Condition report PDFs etc etc

Graphic list - a list of all the graphics within the exhibition. Which crate they are in, size, type, artwork resource etc etc

Schedule - this is my favourite base. Entries per day which is used to keep track of accommodation requirements, truck movements, crew logistics etc etc. Again - the superb On2Air docs then generates all the PDF paper work - trucking schedules, accommodation lists, master schedule etc.

So you can see why it has got rather unwieldy.

My questions are -

  1. I have this split into 3 different bases - as otherwise I would have a lots of tables to wade through. One of those bases is called “Reference” which syncs into the other two bases. This is fixed info that is used across all bases such as venue, Zone within the exhibition etc. It does however mean I am flicking back and forth between different bases which can get tedious. Is there a better way to do this? Should I just have one huge Airtable base or is it just simply down to personal preference?

  2. Crates. Every object is in a crate, but I am struggling with the below -

Some objects are very small, so get wrapped and put into a generic case. That generic case then gets put into a larger crate

Most objects though are large - so they get their own dedicated crate.

My “Crate” table has columns for - Crate ID, Contents (Object) - which links to the object table, Contents (crate) - which links to the crate ID on the same table.

The problem I am having, is giving the warehouse (where the exhibition is currently stored) a clear list of just crates they have. With the way I have it set up - I can only create a view which has EVERY single crate or box - even if that box is packed inside another crate. There is no way of showing that a crate has been packed inside another crate (that I can see anyway). I’ve thought of setting up an automation to check each record and, if it is listed as being packed in other crate - to mark it with a flag or something - but that seems clunky and prone to error.

I am sure I am missing something but just can’t see it.

Anyone have any ideas? Apologies for the long post and thanks in advance!


Hi Andrew,
I assume you are already familiar with the concept of linking tables and doing lookups? Perhaps you could mention how your data is linked now between tables? From the description perhaps it would help if you could list your current structure because you mention “lists” but I am not sure if you mean by that List View or you mean by that list as being a separate table? Also you mention you have 3 bases but you only mention that at the end. I am no expert but have few very large bases with several thousand fields, 100s of tables and 100’s of interactions and I am able to accomplish everything from single base and single table view thanks to linking, lookups and automations, I find that is the most useful and powerful thing about Airtable. So maybe you can provide more details and somebody here would jump in to help.


Thanks so much for taking the time to reply. My initial post was a little rushed, so apologies for that.

I am very comfortable with linking tables / lookups / roll ups etc. Also good with views etc (apologies if I got my terminology mixed up!)

I was going to share a link to the schema for my 3 bases, but realise that reveals the underlying data too, so can’t do that. I will though post a screen shot (as frustratingly - you can’t export from an extension / app). Will add that to this topic tomorrow.

To give a little more context, I’ve tried to split my bases up into 3 categories -

  • Creative and content. This has all the objects, AV content etc listed in separate tables
  • Logistics - this has the truck lists, schedules etc
  • Master - this has only 3 or 4 tables which are sync’d into both of the above tables.

None of these bases has more than say a dozen tables so I am impressed that yours has 100s!

WIll post a screenshot of my schema tomorrow.

Thanks again,