6 Fun Product Designs for This Week

Terraced Bowls. Who knew soy sauce could be so beautiful.

The PIPO chair. (by Alejandro Estrada) Probably the most elegant chair I’ve ever seen.

This foot hammock.

This honey packaging

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This clock, where the frame also moves with the hands

This dynamic piece of furniture

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Good User Experience

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Look up to see what books the different floor hold. Vancouver Library. Source

2010 Erica Velasco Photographers
2010 Erica Velasco Photographers

Dancing shoes for when you’re tired of your dress shoes. Source

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Glasgow architecture school shows you where the bathroom is with descriptive icons.

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This armchair knows what you really need. Source

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Yes to not hollering over people’s heads at the restaurant. Source.

Simple and Practical Product Designs

As a former student of industrial design, it’s often fun to go back and study how other people are currently designing everyday objects around us to be easier to use. Below are a few good ones that I’ve stumbled upon recently.

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The Bare Chair (Leano) by Nik Lorbeg – Design Boom | Ridiculously portable. Easy to make.

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The Sticky Feet Flex Mount aka Gekkopod by Gal & Boaz Zucker | Works on any surface.

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The 160 deg. Socket by Zhoucun Yu | Great for large plugs.

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What Art School Taught Me (not what I expected)

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No one expected me to go to art school. Not even I did. I was a bit of a conformist back in high school, taking tons of math and science classes so that I could please my parents and impress my peers. Painting was fun, but art school?

Now that I think about it, it’s probably because I had no clue what art school was actually about. People mostly see and hear about RISD through the media, which means they only get to know it as a place where kids with purple hair draw naked people (albeit, you do see plenty of that as a freshman).

What they probably don’t know about RISD is that it does the most amazing job of taking away fear – the fear of starting, the fear of trying something new, the fear of fear

Art and design push boundaries like nothing else, which is why RISD actually ended up being perfect for me. It made me do a lot of things that I was really uncomfortable with, which in hindsight ended up the best thing I could have ever done.

During my first semester as a freshman at RISD, I was given the assignment to build a violin from cardboard (FYI it didn’t have to work). I immediately started making calculations and measuring angles. The girl beside me simply traced an actual violin on cardboard, building each side as she progressed. Guess who finished first? Not me.

While high school taught me to be methodical about decisions, RISD taught me to hack things together until they worked.

RISD taught me to just start. Make something rough. Make it imperfect. Just make it, because it’ll get you further ahead than the person who’s still “measuring” the perfect way to do it.

I had never worked like this before in my life. Grade school never taught me how to make, so it was my first experience of getting my hands dirty and toying with creation.

During my time in the industrial design (ID) department, I learned how to use a vacuum-form machine, a metal lathe and a blowtorch. If you had asked me high school whether I wanted to play with these machines, I would have probably backed away pretty quickly.

But the courses I took in ID required me to use them again and again, and as a result, they broke my fear of them. I practiced and practiced, until I realized nothing bad was going to happen to me while I used them.

By the end, I had hand-machined slider cranks, built foot pedals for sinks and soldered hollow-construction rings together.

RISD made me comfortable with fear. I became adjusted to trying new things on a regular basis; instead of being risk-averse, I became very risk-tolerant.

When you do this enough, it becomes more than a habit; it turns into an attitude, a mentality that you carry with you whenever you approach obstacles at work or in life. Instead of hesitating and worrying about whether the outcome is going to be perfect, you just dive in and see what it’s about.

While I’m not saying that art school does this for everyone, I am saying that sometimes, you just have to let go. Go and jump into something you’re afraid to do. You’ll look back and wonder why you ever feared it in the first place.

Note to design students.

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Image by Mark Skrobola

Professor Eppinger, one of the instructors of the Product Design and Development course I took at MIT asked us one day during my final semester of college to sketch a new concept that would bring new technologies and existing products together (we were given specific options, which were written on the board). Everyone – engineering, business and design students – took about five minutes to come up with something. He then asked us to show the class what we had just sketched via overhead projector.

Nearly everyone who ran up to the projector was an engineering or business student. The sketches were (from a designer’s point-of-view) poor and the ideas were vague, but they were confident about their concepts.

Very few of the design students went up to the projector. Why?

Most likely, it was because many of them didn’t feel like their ideas were presentable (along with the additional fear of public speaking). Design students spend an awful lot of time perfecting their work. The director of RISD’s Career Center even mentioned to me once that he sees lots of students perfecting their portfolio, but never really finishing it or taking a ridiculous amount of time to finally put it online. Designers prefer to show their work when it’s reached a certain stage, and five minutes isn’t that stage when there are seventy-five other people looking at it.

Therein lies a problem.

If you don’t present your idea because you don’t think it’s presentable enough, your AMAZING idea will be bypassed for someone else’s so-so idea, because they spoke first.

In school, you’re often given an assignment in school where you can thrash out ideas by yourself first before you discuss them with anyone. You then form a way to visualize your idea and you “present” it in the sense that you already know what ideas you’re offering before you speak. You make sure everything looks perfect. Sketches and models, are they stunning? Good.

Real life involves coming up with ideas on the spot and communicating your concepts effectively to people who might not understand exactly what you do. You can’t wait until midnight when everything starts clicking. You don’t have a lot of time to digest everything.

So what do you do? You have to practice thrashing your ideas out around other people, with other people. You have to accept that not everyone is a visual person. Some people are primarily verbal and understand through words alone, which is why they feel that powerful words alone can do the trick. You have to put yourself in situations that you might fear at first but will grow accustomed to with time. You’ve GOT TO SHIP YOUR IDEA, because everyone deserves to see what awesome things you have to offer.

I say this, because it’s true. Show your work. Show it loud. The real world is at your feet.

MIT/RISD Product Design and Development

We made the front page of MIT news yesterday. The product design and development class at MIT held its final presentations last Saturday. I was a part of the tablet computer backpack group the writer mentions at the beginning of the article.

Here’s the link.

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