Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
You’ve recently completed your Product Design Degree. You feel over the moon.
You feel confident in yourself and believe that you’ve made it in life. In fact you’re so confident, you convinced yourself that the design industry is going to welcome you with open arms.
“Goodbye university, Helloooooooooo design world!”
Yep, that’s what I said with such assurance. Until one day I had a reality check.
I can remember a few months after my graduation; I wanted to create a product design concept to add onto my design portfolio. I just couldn’t resist.
Doing product design in university wasn’t just for achieving a product design degree. It was much more than this… Product design is a way of life for me.
I missed the whole design manic that I experienced at university and the pleasure that it gave me.
At the time, I was receiving numerous job rejections. Knowing after all the hard work yet I couldn’t get anywhere. It was too disheartening.
And the only way to pull myself out of this misery was to design product concepts. It was the only way to emotionally and mentally feel better. To feel normal again.
You’re probably thinking to yourself how hard could it have been for me to design a product concept from home?
Mmmmmmm let me see…
Well I only I had to substitute machines (i.e. rapid prototype printers) for my hands. Marker pads for scrap paper. A set of marker pens for the good old biro pen. And transform my mind into a 3D software.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention that I also didn’t have SolidWorks.
I literally had ‘bits and bobs’ scattered around the house. I had to work with what was available to me at the time…
Minimum Resources. Maximum Creativity.
And here is how I created the Dyson Glider product design concept:
#1 SPECIFIC DESIGN BRIEF
I knew if I wanted to experience an exciting design process, I needed DIRECTION.
Direction to help me organise my design thinking. As product designers we all sometimes get carried away, especially in the initial concept design phase.
I for one let myself go bonkers in the early stages of a design project. That’s when the innovative and cool concepts emerge.
However it’s great to be in this zone of creativeness…
But without having purpose and vision in your design project, you’ll fall into the trap of creating a wishy washy concept.
You see, by putting the time and effort in creating a specific design brief you’ll stick to your objectives and goals, which can guide you throughout your project.
However, don’t over think it and get yourself stressed out. You’re already stressed out on how you’ll design your concept with a low budget.
So create it as short and specific as you can. It can be like mine; a couple of sentences to begin with just to get you started and get you in the zone…
Remember, in this moment in time your focus isn’t to create a brief for a company or a client. It’s for you to get started in designing an awesome design concept. Just treat the brief as a plan. A plan that can reassure you’re on the right track.
From my experience, I found that by choosing a company who are ranked top in what they do i.e. Dyson Company popular for their vacuum cleaners, and basing your concepts around their product line is an effective way to begin a design brief.
For example, at the time I had this idea of a roller blade vacuum cleaner. I needed vision for my design project. That’s when I had to use what I had and imagine that I was given a specific brief Dyson.
Why? Because by researching and understanding the company’s…
- Brand values
- Visual language
- Material and Manufacturing
- Ergonomics and aesthetics
- Existing products
- And so many more information…
You’ll begin to specify your design brief and be considerate before you start designing anything. You’ll have clear direction and vision.
#2 A GOOD OLD BIRO PEN TO SKETCH
Yes the inexpensive plastic pen that we all through behind our shoulders (binned) when we owned the colourful marker pens, the fine ink pens, the white gel pens for light effects and so many cool sketching equipment.
Five months after graduation these so called ‘fancy pens’ had run out on me and I was just left with a biro pen. (Well I can’t blame them for doing so, final year was a tough on both of us).
I used a biro for most of my sketches. Even when I was doodling on napkins…
I had the one or two marker pens that were nearly running out. That needed shaking, dipping into water and squeezed to death to get the last drop of colour.
But apart from these sketching tools, I had nothing fancy.
So do not underestimate the good old biro, because you can still achieve great sketches by drawing…
- Side views of your concepts
- Cool perspective views
- Manipulate arrows and annotation
- Capturing light and shade through ‘etchy’ lines
- Thick and thin lines
- Curving a surface/ cross section
- Leaving initial rough pen lines
- Details i.e. buttons
You may find through reading books such as Sketching by Koos Eissen and Roselien Steur will help you improve your biro sketching SKILL.
Trust me you can always rely on a good old biro when you want to express your ideas on paper. It’s always around.
#3 SCRAP MATERIAL
Although I had conquered the visual and technical side of things of the design concept (Dyson Glider), as a product designer it was difficult to sit back and avoid the modelling phase.
I could’ve made all kinds of excuses not go any further. But I didn’t.
Why? Because I would have contradicted myself. I would have gone against all I’ve believed in. I have always said and believed that one of my qualities is ‘thinking outside the box’.
And designing my concept with minimum resources and from home was the right time to put what I believe in to the test.
Everything was put to the test. My product design skills, my creativity, my design thinking.
And most importantly my self-belief and determination to create a respectful design concept.
I had to apply all that I believed in against the hundreds of challenges that were waiting to defeat me. I rolled up my sleeves and was ready to drive my creativity where it hadn’t reached before.
And this is how I began creating models, the secret…
Work with what you have!
I worked with anything and everything that was available to me at the time…
It was difficult at first, but when I got in the zone, I felt unstoppable.
(Apart from the burns that I had on my fingers from melting glue sticks without the glue gun… well I had to do what I had to do guys).
You see, when you’re doing what you love (designing and solving problems), nothing gets in the way. No matter how hard it is and how long the project drags…
It doesn’t matter. You’re doing what you love and the so called ‘pain and struggles’, well is part of being a product designer.
Having ‘nothing’ can amazingly turn your design experience into something special. It made me push my design talent where it hadn’t even been before.
#4 REVERSE ENGINEER BROKEN PRODUCTS
To thoroughly understand how something works and to take a design concept to the next level, I believe that a product designer must dismantle existing or similar products.
Well, I couldn’t afford any of Dyson’s product line… but this didn’t stop me moving forward.
I was going to dismantle my mum’s vacuum cleaner. I’ll advise you now; it’s a no entry zone.
Nevertheless, just my luck a few days later my uncle’s handheld vacuum cleaner broke on him. Its not a Dyson but its still a vacuum cleaner right.
Having the broken handheld vacuum cleaner was a great opportunity for me to understand all sorts of technical details…
After researching the manufacturing details it was time to apply what I had studied into my own design concept. This made me…
#5 LEND SOFTWARE FROM A FRIEND
One of my friends had Adobe Illustrator, so I used this for a couple of weeks to help me underpin the aesthetics…
But also to refine and be assured that the components will technically function…
I went back and forth to overcome the technical challenges of the Dyson Glider. The process wasn’t just sitting down for days on Adobe Illustrator I had to transform my mind into a 3D software, and make models alongside 2D visuals.
Like this one here…
I had to keep going. Even through the days that I had a ‘designer’s block’. I had to keep moving forward.
#6 BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT
As Theodore Roosevelt said…
‘Believe you can and you’re halfway there.’
And this is true!
My Dyson Glider project taught me two important values:
- You must believe you can do it well before you start anything
- You must believe in yourself
If you don’t. Well, all the challenges and issues you’ll face will be twice as hard. Sure I didn’t have SolidWorks, a workshop in the back garden, materials, design resources, and the list goes forever.
But why would you let negativity stop you from doing what you love when you can deal with it with an open mind. Its not going to be easy but its going to be worth it in the end.
It’s going to be your story. Your achievement.
You’ll look back and say to yourself… ‘Yes I designed this. Yes me. I did it’.
And let me tell you this, it will feel damn good, because most would have given up.
Most would have given in at the first challenge. But not you. You will see solutions, just like what I did. I’m just saying if I can do it so can you.
Be positive, be persistent, be determined. Trust me the challenges that you’ll face in your design project will feel like a problem solving game.
So the next time you think ‘I haven’t got the right resources bla bla bla’
Well now you know that you have more than enough.
Just enjoy the design experience and remember work with whatever you have!
You’re probably thinking to yourself right now…
Hang on a minute, how did she end up creating a CAD model of her Dyson Glider Concept?
Well, all is revealed in the Dyson Glider product article… Click on to the link below to see the full design process from start to finish.
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