Analogies for product development/design…

Dick Powell (from Seymour and Powell)) once said: “Product design is like an explosion in reverse” i.e. lots of tiny bits floating around and over time they all come back together to form the finished design.

I quite like the idea of this, as I’ve found a project will ‘snowball’ and start to come together very quickly towards then end…where everything pieces together in perfect harmony.

I’ve often seen product design as several other analogies:

A Maze……you start off on the outside not knowing where to go but build up information and you make your way through to the prize.

Cracking a combination lock….attempting to find the all the right solutions that will match all the objectives.

And the classic

Juggling…you have all this different facets to the design and you go to manage them all and with out dropping them of course.

I think there is also something to be said about achieving the balance between all the different factors of a design……maybe trying to true up a bent wheel by tightening and loosening the spokes, until it runs true.

Has anyone else got there own analogies for product development/design? Or any comments views on the above?

I’ve always thought of the product development cycle analgous to musicians producing music.

An album is like a product line – different tracks all related by a style or theme.

They work in a ‘studio’, prototyping different compositions, melodies, rhythms…brainstorming new sounds and structures.

Sometimes initial songs are sampled with a focus group of the potential market for feedback.

They work in a team of specialists (drummer, guitarist, producer) to refine.

After months/years of development, they manufacture the product (record the master tracks) and mass produce many CD’s.

The albums and mp3’s are distributed via multiple retail environments to reach the end user.

Finally, the artist goes on tour to promote the new work and generate press about their latest creation, similar to a new design making the rounds at the design shows, blogs, magazines.

Then? Return to 1 and start the cycle again.

Take out music above and replace with design.

Hollywood movie production hits the nail on the head for me.

Not that I would know, because we haven’t had kids, but it’s kind of like having a baby… a couple of hours of intense fun, followed by months of careful nurturing, preparation and growing discomfort, capped off with some intense pain, leading to relief… and the strange desire to do it all again…

I like the reverse explosion though… hadn’t heard that one…


Good Design is when you know for a fact that you found the right solution and actually put the solution in the product…when the end user can quickly understand that you have just solved a problem…I think?

Like baking a nice 3 layered cake with the right filling :slight_smile: I’m hungry!

a couple of hours of intense fun

Hmmmmmmmm…maybe this is part of my problem. A couple of minutes?

I will let you decide if I am talking about design or not.

Maybe you missed out a step…finding the lady first? That could be the breif?

I find it interesting that some of you compare it to music/film production because that begs the question:

Why are there no producer roles in the US design industry? That role does exist in Europe. Is there another capacity in the design/product development world that does the same thing?

Why are there no producer roles in the US design industry? That role does exist in Europe.

A design “producer” ? Would you elaborate please.

It looks like a Product or Project Manager would be the equivalent in the design/PD world…

or design director. management of the process and the administration/resources with a creative angle but not necessarily doing the final creative.

personally, (and not sure you can call it a true analogy), i find the design process like tuning an instrument/singer. when everything is “right”, i just get a feeling or auro of “in tune”…

maybe im nuts, buts i find its the “out of tune” feeling that drives me to work on a solution more until it “sings”.

hard to describe, but maybe someone else knows what im talking about.

i also find the same thing when im out trend forecasting. i could be looking at huge wall of shoes (im a shoe designer), and just find some sort of harmonics in my head that make the important trends/features stand out to me. its like everything else is out of focus except for what i need…

…now i sound like a psychic/psychopath hearing voices in my head :slight_smile:


I’ve been watching the Food Network a lot lately,

The research and the solutions…are the ingredients…

The Designer is the Chef…

Sketches, CAD, Models…are you pots and pans…

Finding the right Form and Aesthetics…is the presentation and plating.

Finally…watching someone chomping down the chow…is the satisfaction that someone is thoroughly enjoying all of your hard work.

Then again…what if you added to much salt? Or overdid the pasta…DAMN

yes certainly, this sense of everything being in the right place…working towards that harmonic, nice thought.

ooh have you ever heard of ‘flow’? (which could be said to be the state of harmonious development)

“Flow is a mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields.”

From Wikipedia