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Product design? Why?


This is my final semester in graduate school and I have decided to shake things up. I am taking courses in areas that are quite new to me, for instance, Product Design. This is particularly interesting because it’s odd to see a software engineer take a class in the school of architecture.

I have always been a software engineer but a creative at heart. Since I was little I always loved seeing cartoons and I often marveled at the way the pixels moved to create shape, people, and form stories. They fascinated me in many ways. Growing up, I made my own toys, I would take copper wires and make them into little wire men. I would climb the roof of my parents’ house and play with these toys, often refining their look and feel by making joints move more easily and adding other materials to the wire coating. This I guess was the beginning of my ‘interest’ in product design.

So why product design…now?

I watched a video of the creation of the Google Home device and I fell in love with the creation narrative of the process. How they made the device to look soft yet firm enough to ensure a message of trust was passed.

This semester, I have already learned about one-point and two-point perspective. I also learned that I have always drawn in one-point perspective. The foundations of technical drawing were challenging and I was shocked at how easy they looked but how complex they were to implement. Easy looking things that time to create, and I’ve always wanted to create things that are easy on the eyes.

The process

I was completely bamboozled when we were told to work with Foam-core. I was tasked to come up with a desk organizer, and most importantly make sure I was not the consumer. I was to interview three people and design a desk organizer item that holds 4 items, pens, paper, pencils, and odds, based on their varying tastes. My final idea was a minimalistic stationery holder.

The process was a steep learning curve for me because this was not object-oriented or machine learning, this was me using my hands to do the Lord’s work. I often stayed up to 3 am cutting and refining my foam core model.

After many hours and many failed attempts, my first attempt was born. It was a good attempt at the desk organizer, but it showed I had a long way to go.

Foam core attempt one

My first attempt at Foam-core

Practice… and more practice

…in practice, quantity vs quality, quantity always wins.

The more I tried, the more I failed, I kept falling short. Then I remembered in practice, quantity vs quality, quantity always wins.

Multiple iterations image

Multiple iterations

Don’t get me wrong, quality is good but in terms of practice, the best quality is achieved by quantity. A professor in a class once said this as a story. Two teams were given a task to come up with a perfect pot. One team was allowed to submit multiple pots and another only one perfect pot. The problem was which team will produce the most quality pot. The short answer was, the quantity team will always produce the most quality pot. The long answer is that due to the many iterations and failures the quantity team will refine their pots and end up producing quality pots. Practice makes perfect

I took this approached to heart and I kept on failing but learning from my failures. After many iterations, I got something considerably cleaner.

It’s not perfect, but for someone who has never done product design, used foam core, or an x-acto knife. This was pretty impressive for me. I will definitely be able to speak the product design language.

A big shout-out to the inspiration behind this post. Thanks for believing in me! ?

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