All designs start with a problem no matter how simple that may be. So you want to design a chair, what's your problem? Your current chair might be ugly, uncomfortable or just plain boring. The first step is to put pen to paper and come up with a problem statement.
It's time to do your research. Yes you can trawl Pinterest, but try to get out into the real world. Go to a design museum, work out how your everyday items are made. Ask your friends and family what they like, listen and write it down. There's a fine line here between getting good research and being overcome by tunnel vision. Keep an open mind.
You have a problem and a little bit of background, now you're going to define the solution. We're still not sketching but rather writing some constraints so that we can design the right thing. We'll also use this at the end of the process to check we ended up with the right product. This is often called a specification.
Now for the fun part. Find a clean space, a large piece of white paper and a black pen. How you do this bit is entirely up to you. Scribble, sketch and fill your paper up with ideas and notes. Once your pen hits the paper don't stop. Let yourself go off on tangents and don't worry about feasibility. Just scribble. If you're doing this in a group then ensure a "no critique" rule. No idea is a bad idea at this stage and critical comments hinder the creative process.
It's time to find out what's feasible. Prototyping can take many forms and this is dependent on your project. Pens, cardboard, glue, tape and scissors make great prototyping tools. This is a rough and ready way of producing multiple prototypes. Produce a handful of prototypes from your better ideas. Start noting which ones have potential and which don't make any sense.
No is the time to get critical. List a dozen of your best ideas in a row as table column headers. Have a look back to your specification statements (part 3, define). Underneath create rows for each of your specifications. Go through each design and give it a score for each point in the specification. 10 if it meets it perfectly, 0 if it doesn't. Sum up these scores and the highest could be your winner. If none of them score highly it's time to go back to the drawing board with some added direction.
With a great idea to work from its time to start refining that prototype. This is an iterative process and you'll go back and forth between physical models and sketches. Repeat until your product satisfactorily meets the majority of your specification.
You now have a prototype that offers some of the functionality of your final product. Test it in its desired environment and with fresh faces. Record this process through notes, questionnaires or similar. I personally like to leave the object in a public space and watch the interactions people make from it from a distance.
Implement your learning and iterate to presentable technical drawings.
You're nearly there. Keep testing and comparing against your original specification.
The design process is iterative and cyclic. Keep going back to your specification and checking that your product meets it. Check that your specification is still relevant as it may change as your learn more about the problem.
Ideate, Implement, Test.
Good luck! This is just a quick introduction, if you feel like anything should be added to the list or expanded upon - tweet us @Huxlo_UK.
Interested in having a go?
This was a small side project during which we experimented with hiding fixings inside the piece of furniture.
As a regular user of the Strava cycling app, i'm used to the regular email from them. Usually it's to tell me that another cyclist has stolen my hard earned King of the Mountain (cyclists will sympathise with this pain). This time however, I hadn't just lost my KOM's. The Bristol Strava office were looking for a way to brand their contemporary office space.
After an email exchange Huxlo provided them with an artist impression of the chosen design and materials. We were also able to show how the piece would fit with their existing furniture.
With the OK from the client, the design was sent for fabrication. We used 18mm Birch Ply to offer a solid but natural aesthetic. The logo would be offset from the background to create a shadow gap around the edges.
Using a prepared template the sign was fitted within the hour.
Want to transform your work space? Email us at email@example.com to get your project started.
The Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship runs innovation courses for people who want to pursue their academic specialism in a way that enables them to apply it - to become innovators who can change the world. The centre wanted an original bespoke suit of furniture with an innovative kick. As a centre for studio-based learning, the furniture had to be dynamic, flexible and inspiring.
The process started with an initial consultation to chat through the customers goals.
With the requirements clear we drew up some artistic impressions of a few different concepts, these were displayed to the customer as quality renderings. Together with the client we narrowed down on the concept designs, leaving us with a clear picture to take towards detail design. A detail design was delivered to the client alongside a quote for prototype manufacture. The design was displayed as a 3D model on a tablet, allowing the customer to view and interact from all angles.
A set of 4 prototype chairs were manufactured in just two weeks after the detail design stage, made possible by Huxlo's in-house rapid prototyping capabilities. The prototypes were reviewed by both the customer and Huxlo designers. Multiple improvements were made to improve both ergonomics and aesthetics. The designs were updated and a new 3D model was issued.
A handful of updated parts were manufactured and fitted to the prototype chairs. With the OK from the customer we moved the design towards batch manufacture.
The batch of completed chairs were delivered on time and to specification in September 2016. The entire process from initial visit to delivery spanned less than the academic summer holiday.
“Huxlo was fantastic to work with. They really understood our needs as a centre for studio-based learning, and they created a great suite of bespoke furniture, unique to our teaching space. Huxlo’s rapid prototyping allowed us greater insight and input into the design process and the project ended in a great result.”
Dr. Kirsten Cater, Academic Director, Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Stools that double as display stands. That was the brief from the Innovation Centre, University of Bristol. The stools would be modelled on our very first classroom chair design and work alongside them.
A range of concepts were created in collaboration with Travis Baldwin, a teaching fellow for the Centre of Innovation. Maintaining structural rigidity whilst fabricating a sturdy slot was the main consideration.
The stands would support 5mm foam board and the stools were also required to stack.
A 3D model was generated after arriving on a feasible concept. Quality renders were created to show the finished article. This included in-use views to show the foam board and stacking capabilities.
A selection of colour options where created to allow the client to visualise the product before work commenced.
The work commenced at our Bristol studio. Rapid prototyping machines were used to machine component parts. These were assembled and finished by our skilled fabricators.
Upon delivery the client could instantly see how useful these pieces would be to them. We look forward to seeing them in use!