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Design Visualization

Design Visualization was one of the courses that I attended at Umeå Institute of Design, one of the worlds best design schools. The course goal was to get the feel of how to convey characteristics and emotions from ones design. It consisted of one individual project with three assignment that helped the project along. The project was to take an already existing product and through the design process, re-design it and give it three new attributes.

Our first assignment was to give a certain attribute to a given object. We then had to do several perspective sketches of our designs and hand them in. By this point, we still hadn’t been given our project missions, and so this assignment was just to show us that different designs give off different impressions of the object. The object I received for this assignment was a stapler, and the attribute was “heavy” and the result is shown below.

The sketch process when coming up with the designs.

After our first assignment we finally got the focus of our projects and with it, the second assignment. Our second assignment was to analyze out given product and hold a presentation on all aspects of its design. Focal points were questions like “What type of product does it seem to be?”, “What does the form/material/color tell us?”, “How does it seem to be used?” and “What form do the competitors use?”.

My given product in its casing.

A close-up of the front.

For those who gave up on guessing what it was, it’s a soldering iron. Our third assignment was to create a persona to work with within a given target audience. We then had to extract three attributes that the persona might look for in our project product. My given target audience was middle-aged women and through that I created my persona, Eva Lundin, a 48-year-old craftswoman and artist that supports herself by selling hand-made jewelery and sculptures. In order to help with the assignment, I also created a image-board on my persona that eventually led me to choose the attributes creative, flexible and precise.

The image-board on the persona and her craft.

After the third assignment everything was set up to begin work on the project mission. The project demanded several sketches of the new design, a 3-D rendered model, and a 1:1 foam model. I began by gathering inspirational material on products that I considered possessed one or more of the attributes I was aiming for. From that I started to sketch until I felt I was satisfied and could make a choice on the design. I then ranked the design on what attribute it emitted the most, creative (K), flexible (S) or precise (P).

After careful consideration I chose the following design as the design to follow-up on. The design borrowed elements from weapons and more advanced tools to give the impression of a technical and precise tool.

After locking in on the design, all I had to do was to decide on the exact measures in order to create the foam and 3-D model.

I chose the colors black and red since those are common colors for this type of tool.

The model is made up of two parts, a needle and the base.

I made several needles for the foam model, this is the longer version.

A friend posing with the foam model.

A light on the tip of the base indicates when the iron is ready to use.

The iron is run on batteries and therefore cordless making it more flexible. There's a compartment that holds the solder.

The iron then melts the solder and runs it through the needle and out of the tip.

The idea for the iron to melt the solder inside came from observation that the process of soldering could at times require more hand on the work than humans possess. To try to illustrate the problem I drew a scenario where the user uses a regular soldering iron and on where the user uses my design.

A common sight with a regular soldering iron.

With my design one can increase the precision and quality of the soldering since the second-hand is freed up to stabilize the model.

The course was really fun and we got to focus on just the design and let loose a little of the responsibility of the technical aspects. The running joke when attending courses from the Institute of Design was that each student got “future”-cards that they could play whenever a technical question arose, as in “In the future that problem will be addressed.” As engineers, we had a hard time adapting to a more free way of thinking that looked past the current technology and let the crazier ideas loose. While it’s fun to let loose once in a while, I’m more comfortable when my designs are backed up by actual solutions and current technology.


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