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From Problem Solving to Market

How do you get from problem solving to a product? To get some inspiration on how it can be done, here are eight Creatives who share the creating process of one of their works.

Fung Kwok Pan

Singapore based designer Fung Kwok Pan give background information about his "Fluid Vase": a vase you customize by simulating fluid action.

What were the main problems you took into account when making the Fluid Vase?
When I first got started on the project, I was experimenting a lot with materials, with the goal to present some of the marks of the production process on the object, in order to connect the consumer with the story behind the product. For example, I would leave some of the heat marks on a metal table at places where the pieces are welded together. So I was really interested in process and its relation to the user, something which I feel is lacking in urban societies where we (mostly) do not make our own things.

I then applied these thoughts to rapid prototyping/3D printing, which by its nature produces no obvious marks. What then? The foundation of this process is a virtual 3D model, which is essentially code. So to bring out some of the possibities of code-driven design, I came up with the story - 'Action becomes Object', where everyday actions are translated into objects, and in the case of Fluid Vase, the pouring of water becoming a vase using simulation algorithms. So the story is the process, and the interface communicates the story, where the user gets a say in the final shape of the object.

How do you think it benefits people?
I think the main goal of this project is to demonstrate what is possible in this whole process of allowing the user to customise the product via a virtual and online interface, produced on demand, and at the same time telling the story of the object/product.

How do you see your designs evolve a couple of years from now?
I am currently very interested in the Internet and apps, and the possibilities for users to customise or make things, no matter if it is a physical product or a virtual space (like a website or a blog). So during this period, I will be busy trying to strike a balance between passing on some of the options to the user/consumer and achieving a coherent result, and between the ease of customization and the point at which the consumer can get a sense of connection.

Minwoo Lee

Minwoo Lee is a product designer who have recently launched his "klassiker chair". This is his process.

What were the main problems you took into account when making the klassiker chair, and how do you think it will best benefit people?
The biggest challenge was to make natural structure that people can sit without feeling pain in their necks or backs. Through many design corrections, it was no longer the problem and it became the characteristic of Klassiker chair.

Chair is one of closest furniture to people. Of course, appearances or structures of chairs are important as well, but the primary goal for chair is the comfort that it provide to people. Providing the ultimate comfort to users was the main goal of this project and [I] also wanted to give classical look within modern structure.

How do you see your designs evolve a couple of years from now?
Present can only exist with past. As a designer, I have been aiming to connect past and present and this has become a motto of my design. I want to establish my own modern classic based on my motto in the future.

Joel Escalona

Designer Joel Escalona shortly describes the purpose of his "Mydna bookcase".

What were the main problems you took into account when making the Mydna bookcase?
People behavior, production feasibility and commercial relevance.

How do you think it benefits people?
Yes is my main goal, as every people's work should be, most of my efforts are in trying to make people think, do and react differently.

How do you see your designs evolve a couple of years from now?
Probable large scale, less size, so more and more people find a way to enjoy my work.

Sabine Staggl

Italian designer Sabine Staggl Design shares what she thought about when working with her "Twiins". Twiins is a series of cars that can be divided in two equal parts and are held together by magnets.

What were the main problems you took into account when making the Twiins?
Nowadays, we have to take more and more the consequences of the crisis.
In fact, Twiins is a project born and thought for a period of crisis, and during these periods there are less goods available and this affects also children and their toys. Analyzing the world of children you can see that parents have often to deal with uncomfortable situations, such as your child is meeting another child in the park playing with a nice toy, and your's not simply because you couldn't afford it. Even if the other child wants to play together, one child will always remain without nothing in his hands.

Moreover, there is always the problem that if someone has something, the other wants to play with it too.

How do you think it benefits people?
The project aims to solve some of these problems and therefore it can be divided into 2 equal parts. One part of the toy should feel right in children hands while the two parts togheter should feel as a surplus, as something added that is not necessarily needed to play well.

I wanted to help to educate children by making them sharing their toys in an easy way, without sorrow but by showing them that playing together and sharing can be even more fun that playing alone. Everybody will play with an equal part, nobody is favoured, but the simple gesture of sharing will hopefully help children and parents to face the hard times of crisis.

How do you see your designs evolve a couple of years from now?
My way of designing in the future will change simply because I myself will change and my approach, my style and my way of thinking will evolve with every experience.

Therefore it's difficult to predict what and how it will be but it's easy to say, and I'm speaking for myself, that design should not so much go with time and trends but with the people that use our objects. The observation of our society which is evolving continuously and which forms their needs is fundamental for me and for the creation of projects that could make life easier and contribute to peoples life.

I am also observing the evolution of technology and science to see if they can help and guide us towards an ecological and sustainable design for the future.

Nevertheless I am very close to the artisanry, its value and history that may influence new objects.

Bart Nijssen

Creative designer Bart Nijssen talks here about how he came up with the "Houvast", which is a product that connects any object to any surface. Houvast is Dutch for 'hold steady' of 'hold tight'.

What were the main problems you took into account when making the Houvast?
In many of my designs I get inspired by social and cultural issues. By doing research and gathering insights I come to a problem that I want to be solve, or a story to be told or even a lesson to be learned to an audience. In the case of the Houvast design, I was very focus on problem-solving. Houvast became an allround solution which enables the user to create functional furniture by combining left-over materials or objects (also see introduction).

How do you think it benefits people?
As a result of the investigations I formed a personal manifest for design, containing 4 design principles;
(I) Products should be functional, (II) Products should be produced in an efficient manner, (III) Products should have no negative impact on the ecological / environmental situation and (IV) Products should be affordable for the group of people who need these products. By staying true to those principles I believe that all products anyone will design, people, the end users, will always benefit.

How do you see your designs evolve a couple of years from now?
I want to keep working in this design-based-on-research manner. Investigation, research, diving into real situations and field experiments form a great input for any design challenge. I truly believe this will enrich also my future products. So in the end people can benefit..

Oliver Boulton

Industrial designer Oliver Boulton explains the process of creating the "circle lamps".

What were the main problems you took into account when making the circle lamps?
For 'Geo Lighting', the main problem I encountered was trying to design a product that maintained functionality whilst achieving the aesthetic I wanted for the product. To do this I had to understand the technical processes, understand the technology involved and also to take inspiration from other areas that may help me find a solution.

The key to the design is the central sphere that allows complete flexibility whilst allowing electricity to pass through it. Only by understanding the technology and alternative methods to transfer electricity could I achieve the desired result.

How do you think it benefits people?
The thinking behind the project was to show a product that could remove the excess attached to it whilst still maintaining functionality.

How do you see your designs evolve a couple of years from now?
I believe my design work evolve a couple of years from now. It will contain some 'typical' product design [plastics, electronics]. However I feel there will be more of a focus on experiences and understanding how the user interacts with the product. Designing experiences as well as the product itself will be important in creating better products.

I have learnt that the skills a designer has are applicable to many different fields.

Pu Tai

Pu Tai, with a background in product design, shares how he worked in the making of "Woody Wonderland".

What were the main problems you took into account when making Woody Wonderland?
I ran in to actually quite a few problems while designing Woody Wonderland. Most of them were related to the manufacture process of natural materials. For example, the factory that I worked with was able to shape the wooden parts precisely as I designed, however after several different processes to protect the wood and also make it safe for kids to use, the dimension can change dramatically. Therefore the compress tolerance of the silicone joints had to be enough to be able to adjust the difference in dimensions. However, soft silicone cause the joint to loose its construct stability, which results in that a big structure, like a robot, won’t be able to stand up. Problem like this came out many times during the process of making this toy and because of this I actually learned a lot from this project.

How do you think it benefits people?
Woody Wonderland is designed to improve hand eye coordination for the target users, 3-6 years old children. By linking wood parts with silicone joints, children can express their creativity.

How do you see your designs evolve a couple of years from now?
Some new components that I have designed are being tested right now and my hopes are that these will expand the usage of Woody Wonderland in the way that many more shapes and creations can be formed. My plan is also that you can extend your Woody Wonderland with more components and that these sets have different themes and stories like “in the jungle” or famous folktales(ex Town Musicians of Bremen by the Brothers Grimm).

Pedro Gomes

Product designer Pedro Gomes both talk about the work and vision that went into the making of "Architect Stylus".

What were the main problems you took into account when making Architect Stylus?
At Pedro Gomes Design, the design process is defined by 5 essential steps: Understand, Envision, Identify, Develop and Communicate.

In our first stage we analyzed - what does it mean to use a stylus? Why do people use it and what are major problems? But, when we talk about products, these go beyond the interaction User - Object and become a more intricate relation where the object reflects the user´s personality, desire or taste. During the process we analyzed not only the physical needs as ergonomics, but also the psychological needs.

Having all these restrains / opportunities in mind our challenge while designing the Architect Stylus was to create a unique design. A tool that feels natural in your hand and provides you the perfect tool to work, browse or play on your tablet. Much thought went to calibrate the stylus weight and length so that you can use for a long period of time. Durability and precision were key factors, and solved by including a cap in the design which allows to protect the silicon tip.

When it comes to portability, the design development considered all possible ways to use and transport the stylus. Therefore the black loop allows the user to use a lanyard and the protective case provides a more luxurious protection for your stylus. In a new, digital, wireless generation people want to feel unique, they want to have unique products that stand out. Here design is a key element to bring great products that can succeed in such a big market. Looking at market, I questioned my self: Why do most stylus have to look like an normal pen? During the Envisioning process, the focus was to create an icon, a unique design language!

Architect Stylus takes the stylus experience beyond the touch screen interaction. Architect stylus is your special accessory, the perfect companion for your tablet where functionality and aesthetics meet together in one iconic design.

How do you think it benefits people?
The Architect is a capped, 9.5mm thick stylus engineered from a solid block of aircraft grade aluminum. Its surface is anodized to a smooth, matte finish that gives a pleasant, tactile feel. The dual purpose cap protects the silicon rubber tip from the elements for lasting effectiveness.

The 7.0mm smooth silicon rubber tip is designed with accuracy and ease of input in mind. Together with the extended body length, this small tip offers the user more visibility of his work, a vital factor for note-taking, sketching or playing games. At 16g, the Architect has been ideally weighted; just enough to guide each stroke the user makes, and not fatigue the user with excessive weight.

How do you see your designs evolve a couple of years from now?
The design process of the Architect Stylus was an amazing experience. Collaborating with Arctic was a great experience and the final results are extremely satisfactory. The feedback from the design community has been very positive and we are already working on a new design. Looking ahead the strategic direction is focused on two complementary directions:

Product Design and Strategic Envisioning.
One of our core business is Strategic Envisioning. Here we are collaborating with companies / industries in the envisioning of products & services for the future. We help our clients to understand and identify strategic emerging business areas and develop visionary products / services that will succeed in the future. Our ambition is that, in the next year, we are able to expand our envision clients and partner with more companies that are looking forward to explore, with us, what the future might hold for them.

On the Product / Industrial Design side, we are now working for E.U.A, Luanda, Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Portugal in a variety of projects. In the near future we are aiming to increase our collaboration with international companies but also to apply our expertise in Portuguese territory and create new strategic connections with Portuguese industries in the development of services and products.

We look at the current crisis in Portugal as an opportunity to show how Design can be a tool to create business and to competitively develop new systems of collaborations. We hope that some Portuguese industries change their perception of design and embrace a new generation of design entrepreneurs that are looking to create change.

Here you can find the Architect Stylus.

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  1. Aman says:

    There is not much difference between Architect stylus and Pogo and grifin stylus.All are similar.
    I can say with no doubt that Architect stylus makers are a good salesman,a good marketing team interested only in bussiness and not in real innovation unlike plai,By-Zero ,Cragle Inc Pen and Adonit Jot.

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  1. [...] about:blank So to bring out some of the possibities of code-driven design, I came up with the story - 'Action becomes Object', where everyday actions are translated into objects, and in the case of Fluid Vase, the pouring of water becoming a vase using simulation algorithms. [...]

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