Product Design: The Product Sketches

The conceptual development of a product is expressed in ideas that make up the beginning of each project. Everything starts from the white sheet – with several movements and lines on it, driven by the imagination and laying the foundation on which everything is built. The answers to many questions and unknowns are looked for, through product sketches. A cycle in which the designer must feel that he is part of the product because it is a completely individual approach. In each project, the stages after the sketches are extremely constructive and the unknowns decrease. When building the core structure of a product, answers to different issues and development options are needed. I have always kept on conceptual development in the form of product sketches, and the processes are moving in a consistent and focused way. The feedback between me and the customer is far better and more flexible because the designer is not only involved in the project. Communication is a prerequisite before selecting specific ideas to work on.

It does not matter whether it is a designer, an engineer, an architect, a designer engineer or a craftsman, each one of them goes through this essential stage, because by drawing their ideas, quite often they find the answers to a lot of their questions. The ways and techniques to do that are unlimited; a wide variety of appliances and special materials can be used – pencils, stylo sketch pens, design marker pen; sometimes experiments with paint and ink can be conducted, as well as aerography techniques and many others. The subsidiary drawing tools can also be various, and they get into use in the final stages of structural drawings with a bigger number of details in them. The stage in which I always use the conceptual drawings is not limited to a certain number of ideas. The stage I always go through with product sketches is not limited to a certain number of ideas.The aim is to extract the essence from them in order to choose the direction of the product – structure, functionality and styling. The idea behind the conceptual development is to make clear which are the potential opportunities for the further development of the project. Words are often used in product sketches, main accents are marked with short descriptions and explanations of functional areas, ergonomic principles, engineering techniques, manufacturing technologies and materials.

When moving through the product sketch, the changes during their development are radical. In the product, the foundations of its structure, function and ergonomics, are built. In each sub-step of the overall conceptual development, ideas are reduced and selection is made. Product sketches are selected and the priority is chosen to clear the main idea. All of this is a reference point for moving to the next stage of development. Frequently, descriptions and explanations of functional areas, ergonomic principles, engineering techniques, production technologies and materials are used in the sketches. You should always go out of the common and go to the detail until the process reaches the finishing touch. It is only then that a more detailed development is made in the sketches. I usually go a long way, but I never skip and ignore the product sketch. All this is to clear the idea from the superfluous and to convey it to the concept level before passing to the next responsible stages in the project. This cycle is invaluable and comprehensive in itself, because it asks questions, gives answers, and determines the direction. The purpose of product sketches is to lay the foundations and identify potential development of product opportunities.

The cycle with the product sketches in “Stage: Conceptual Development” – in the project process “Product design & Development”:

Stage: Conceptual Development – Product Sketches:

Discussion of the product analysis and project priorities. Develop concepts that are under analysis and determine the direction of development. The next step is the selection and development of several selected conceptual options – there are basically four. From the conceptual variants, two designs are selected and then developed. A main design is selected to make the final development of the structure and details before moving to the “3D Modeling” stage.

1.Product analysis:

Discussion and analysis of product characteristics – technical, marketing and economic characteristics of the project. Thorough analysis of competitive products, market niche, market segmentation – client’s target group, potential development of product range, etc. Discussion over the priorities set in the project and the desired product, after completion of all project process stages of “Product Design & Development”. The information is provided entirely by the client – team, company and others.

2.Development of concepts:

Concepts are developed to lay the foundations of the project. The substage is not limited to a number of concepts, as it aims to search and determine the direction of development for the whole project. During the development stage, the designer makes decisions on what the number of concepts will be. The aim is to extract the essence and to lay the basis of the product – at the following substages to to develop structure, functionality and styling. After the completion of the concepts, a view, analysis and selection of selected conceptual options for subsequent development are carried out. Every single concept is discussed, before choosing the right options with potential opportunities for further development.

3.Dеvelopment of selected concepts:

The development of selected concepts is the substage, where several of the best concepts resulting from a previous substage – “Development of Concepts “, have to be selected. They have been selected after a view, analysis and careful selection from all concept designs, only then it sounds more rational. Mainly, four concepts are selected and undergo a development process. This is followed by a view, analysis and selection of two competing designs for subsequent development.

4.Development of two main designs:

Intensive development of the two main designs is done to develop variants of the structure, components and some basic details. Both designs evolve in a direction to show their main features. Their development must create a competitive choice in every aspect. After detailed development of the two designs, a view, discussion and selection of the main design are made. All this contributes significantly for the qualitative choice of the main design. All the efforts will be focused on the main design during the last substage.

5.Development of main design:

The development of the main design is the last and final substage of stage – Conceptual development. The design is developed, where the focus is over its composing elements – the main structure, all the components, details and elements. The overall structure is developed and finalized – the functional characteristics are developed, the basic ergonomic zones are specified, the basic components and the details are made; the visual characteristics of the styling, etc. are improved. Often in the product sketches of the main design, as well as in some of the above subtopics, text is used – words, short descriptions and explanations related to technical and visual characteristics that contribute to the further development of the project. Upon completion of the development, a review, thorough analysis and discussion is performed before moving to Stage: “3D Modeling”. Only after approval by both parties – a client and a designer – are finalized Stage: “Conceptual Development” and will be transferred to Stage: “3D Modeling”.

IMPORTANT: Prior starting the project process – “Product Design & Development”, the client have to state what other potential participants in the project will be – team, partners and potential specialists, participating in the main communication and feedback during the discussion of each stage and substage. The transition from one stage to the next stage, as well as the successive completion and closure of each substage, will take place after a basic view, analysis, discussion and approval between the two parties involved in the project – designer and client. The stage is developed using product sketches. The stage is developed with product sketches – spatial structures, axonometric projections, structural sections, and more. The development is done with the purpose of laying the conceptual foundations of the product, developing a structure and characteristic styling, building the basic technical characteristics, creating a product identity, etc. At stage “Conceptual Development”, it is possible to make changes – partial or complete, in the direction of optimization, improvement and development of the overall concept of the product.

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