Archive for June, 2014

Part 3: Design of the Times or “Hmm, is this worth doing?”

Ok, so far we’ve been creative.  We’ve done some thinking.  We’ve noodled around a bit and now we have come up with an inspired idea. What now?  The next step for us is to determine whether it is valid enough to continue with or not.  The ideas I come up with at 3am may seem incredibly brilliant at the time, but not even fun, interesting, or even manufacturable or realistic once we really begin to flush out the concept.

So, what do we take into consideration when deciding to move forward with an idea?

  1. Who would license this?
  2. What part of a store could this sell into?
  3. Would we buy it?
  4. How much would it cost for a manufacturer and at the store?
  5. What need does it fill?

These are the type of questions that most people don’t think through.  They have an idea, they love it, they want it made.  Period.  I get it!  It’s hard to let go of an idea.  An idea always seems perfect to the person who invented it because the vision for the item is in THEIR head.  There is an emotional attachment to an idea that is hard to break.  I will be the first to admit that I am less than pleased when Ryan shoots down my ideas. It makes me a little um…mad, even if it was terrible.  Well, perhaps I didn’t explain my vision thoroughly enough.  Maybe he just disagrees.  He may know more about that category and what sells than I do.  It may never have been manufacturable. Maybe it’s just a plain stinky idea.  More than once I’ve come up with an idea that would use technology that doesn’t even exist.  If only magic were real…

Yes, I double checked the wall at Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station in London.  I didn't go through.

Just to be sure,  I double checked the wall at Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station in London. I didn’t go through it.  Hrumph.


The answers to the checklist above are much easier to answer with some industry experience.  But making trips to the store, seeking out similar items, noting their prices, and turning over the package to see who makes it is a great start.  These days it doesn’t seem weird to have your phone out taking pictures of store shelves.  In the “olden” days before smartphones, we used to get stopped by a store employee to find out what we were doing (the closest I ever came to being a Bond girl) but these days, you could just be Snapchatting or Instagraming and no one would be the wiser and you go home with valuable reference and a gallon of milk.

Once we have talked about the idea, if we feel that we have a sizable list of companies that the item could work for, if there is an area of the store we think it could fit, if we determine that it would sell for an appropriate cost at the store, if a factory would realistically be able to manufacture it, and if it’s something we feel consumers would like, the next step is to make a prototype.

Which, appropriately enough, is the subject of the next installment of my little series which I have appropriately titled:

Part 4: Prototyping or “Making the Industrial Design degree pay off!”

Happy Summer Solstice and thanks for reading!

Nothing encourages creativity like the chance to fall flat on one’s face. ~James D. Finley