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Ways of increasing creativity when designing automobiles

31 Jul

Courtsey of Lars Falk from Volvo Cars, who tutored one of my industrial design projects while I was studying in Jönköping.

  1. Select a time during the day or night when ideas come easily.
  2. Sketch in side elevation.
  3. Make each design different than the one preceeding it.
  4. Use a sketching technique you are comfortable with.
  5. Do not make variations of a design theme until you have exhausted your original idea sketches.
  6. Sketch when you are relaxed and there is no pressure to produce a design. (Some designers work better under pressure.)
  7. When you run out of ideas, take a break and try again later, or work on anther assignment that does not require creativity. (Give the right side of your brain a rest.)
  8. Change proportions, wheelbase, perspective, or location on the body mass.
  9. Have a specific goal or theme to work to.
  10. Re-arrange the basic components: engine, passengers, wheels (2-3, or 4)
  11. Define the problem you are trying to solve.
  12. Share ideas with your peers and seek their opinions.
  13. If the assignment is unpleasant, don’t procrastinate, do it now!
  14. Change your basic approach: If your designs are soft with curved lines, try some ideas that are angular, crisp, light, linear, organic, modular, asymmetrical or crazy.
  15. Look for good design in other modes of transportation: racing cars, motorcycles, racing boats, aircraft.
  16. Do not be afraid of being laughed at. All great ideas were laughed at when first presented. Any idea that is truly original will look strange at first.
  17. Do not be discouraged if no ideas come. The best of designers suffer the same experience.
  18. If none of the above suggestions works you may want to consider another profession that is more suitable to your strengths and skills.

Reassuring words for beginners

30 Jul

And how to get out of a creative rut

Original source:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.

– Ira Glass


What skills does a young industrial designer need to develop?

30 Jul


Make things with your hands. Especially sculpture.

If you have the technical skills but lack the artist’s eye, you will never be a great designer.

However, it is necessary to have technical skills. The best designers know what is impossible with current technology, what is possible at high cost or with low yield, what is safe and easy, etc.

Learn how your objects are manufactured. Talk to machinists, watch a CNC mill, visit a factory assembly line, feed an injection-molding machine, etc.

The technology is always changing. It is important to be aware of the latest developments — the best methods, the newest processes, the most advanced tools, etc. — even if you can’t use them yet.

It is also necessary to have an intimate knowledge of your materials. Have you noticed the way that accomplished woodworkers talk about wood? On this forum, SDR, SPD, Heath, and Tktoo are good examples (and there are others, of course). They have a deep understanding — deeper than “knowledge”, more like “feeling” — of the density and strength of various species, the way wood shrinks and stretches, the way it takes stain and other surface treatments, the extent to which it can be worked, the strength of glues, the effect of moisture, etc.

You should understand ABS, polycarbonate, aluminum or steel alloys — or whatever materials you use — in the same way. You should know how those materials feel, how much they weigh, how sharply they can be bent, how they cut, their thermal properties, how they flow in a mold, the surface finishes available, elasticity, strengths, weaknesses, how they’re produced, how they wear, how they age, the cost, etc., etc., etc. Learn about fasteners and adhesives, too.

You can learn a lot of this from books, but you won’t instinctively KNOW it without experience… So get as much experience as you can: Make things with your hands, but also just HOLD things in your hands, and LOOK at them. Think about WHY they are designed as they are, and WHY they use the materials that they do.

Also, be a critic. Analyze every manufactured object you see; try to find at least one thing wrong with everything, and think about how to fix it with a better design.

Talk with other designers or design students. Try to meet mechanical-engineering students, and talk with them, too. Search the web for “human factors”, “ergonomics”, and “usability”. Read Donald Norman’s books, starting with “The Design of Everyday Things”. Read

Industrial design sketching… the why and how to use sketching to design products

30 Jul

How to move from drawing to designing – Design sojourn

After that take a conscious effort to not just look at objects around you, but to see it in its elements. Ask yourself when you see a beautiful object what sort of elements (line, shape, composition etc.) makes it a beautiful object. When you look at an ugly object, you ask yourself the opposite, what elements don’t work on this design.


Sketching: Approaching the paper with purpose – Paul Beckett

One of the things I ask my students to do before sketching is to build a design theme: a set of carefully curated products, attributes, materials and details that tell a clear story. It explains, for example, whether the product should be engaging and approachable or refined and technical; bold and powerful or so subtle it blends with the environment. Properly constructed, it becomes a designer’s ‘go to’ when sketching, setting up a brainstorm session, exploring form and refining details. From early on, design students should be in the habit of having one or more of these themes in front of them while they sketch, to reinforce the idea that sketching is only useful when it’s helping to realize an idea.


Top skills an industrial designer needs

30 Jul

Notes from a lecture given at Umeå Institute of Design from an industrial designer (forgot to write his name down unfortunately).

Top 10 Professional Skills
1. Sales. Networking
2. Process. Design method
3. Form. Aesthetics
4. Form. Semantics
5. Form. Verbalizing it
6. Technology
7. Politics
8. CAD
9. Man-machine interface
10. Graphics

Top Personal Skills
1. Learning
2. Radical thinking
3. Clearness

Reading list

30 Jul

What’s on my To-Read List:

DESIGNING FOR INTERACTION Dan Saffer (LIU Norrkoping on hold) didn’t finish – rather basic
Universal Principles of Design (LIU Norrkoping reserved)
Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age
The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design (LIU Valla bibliotek)

Thoughts on Interaction Design (Kolko)

Thoughtful Interaction Design (Lowgren/Stolterman)
Humane Interface by Jef Raskin (TekNat PU)
Information Visualization: Perception for Design by Colin Ware (TekNat 152)
Social Psychology & Exploring Social Psychology by Myers (HumSam 302, Norrk, Hälsouniv 302)
Essential Cognitive Psychology by Alan Parkin

Architecture – Francis Ching (Hum Sam)
The Art of 3-dimensional Design – Louis Wolchonok (Hum Sam)

Bauhaus 1919-1933 (Hum Sam)
Design for the real world Papanek (HumSam Plan 2)
Design for the Digital Age by Kim Goodwin (HumSam 745.2)
Universal Principles of Design (Tek Nat)
Cradle to Cradle (TekNat)
The Laws of Simplicity (e-book)
Graphic Design: The new basics (e-book)

*Don’t make me think – Steve Krug (Norrkoping)
Envisioning information – Tufte (Norrkoping)
Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst (Norrkoping)

A list of interaction design books from the Experience Design MFA program:

A list of usability and interface design books:
About Face 3. The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann and David Cronin (ebook)

The Semantic Turn
Geometry of Design
The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garret
Web Anatomy: Interaction Design Frameworks that Work by Robert Hoekman, Jr and Jared Spool
Designing Interfaces by Jenifer Tidwell
UX Design: For User Experience Designers in the field or in the making. by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler
‘Designing for the Digital Age’ by Kim Goodwin (HumSam-biblioteket & TekNat 005.43 & ebook)
About Face 3. The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann and David Cronin (ebook & HumSam 005.43)
The Inmates are Running the Asylum