Consumer Created Designs

I have to disagree with this. I would argue that “industrial design” has been around far longer than the industrial revolution.

Every profession is under evolution, has been and will be. The rate of change is exponential. New professions will emerge and old ones will die or re-invent themselves to serve new needs and realties that are outside the control of those professions.

Take a look at what every shoe company is trying to do : http://no-retro.com/home/ not very successfully. Take a look at what sweet companies are trying to do : http://replicatorinc.com/blog/

Customers are designing. Now, are they designing to the same quality ? customers don’t seem to care. they are willing to pay 30 to 60% more for what they design than what others have designed for them. Personal Fabrication for Dummies -- Teaching Videos at Replicator, Inc. - Mass Customization & Open Innovation News

Would it not be better for designers participate in this ?

Customer created designs is unlikely to happen without designers. Designers need to think and work differently. Not sure if that is too much to ask.

SK- youre pretty condescending to designers my friend. The reason you are getting any response is that you are here disparaging graphic designers. Most of us are not concerned. Its not a threat really. Whats the worst that could happen? We become lego designers- designers of parts and designs that can be put together and customized by consumers. But even Lego has an ID team and legos come with an instruction manual. The people who were paying for websites before are still paying for them. The tools are easier so more people join in- big deal. Still more coders than ever.

I love industrial design programs, and am constantly thinking of ways to improve interface designs and workflows. Eventhough I have a lot of ideas, I would still need to get a coder to put that into practise. There are too many things to learn along the way that even if I said" I want the curves to be created with a pressure sensitive stroke.", “I want my CAD form to be a set a fuzzy particles that slowly firm up the same way that I detail a sketch” quantifying and designing that feature takes a bit of in-depth knowledge. I would rather spend my time designing products rather than the programs that design them.

User generated product designs are an important factor in the future, but I dont think that RP is the way it will manifest. The more probable method I see is transparency from factories- easily available quotes from factories similar to how protomold does their work. Right now finding a factory is not a very easy thing. I believe that smart factories will make it easier for designers, marketers and consumers to get information and design evaluation.

Even software is hit and miss with open source. I am not sure why Apache is so successful, while Blender has the most gourd-awful UI design in existence. To me it seems like open source does not ever produce new innovation. If ever there was a truly innovative feature, it will always be in a traditional “designed” software. Thats the only way to make money for the person taking the effort of coding and designing a program.

Hmmm… some times I wonder why I write in a forum of people who are in the business of establishing their young professions into some thing that is valued by society and industry. Perhaps I do them harm. But that is not my intention.

I attempt there to point out the significant changes that are now taking place , the challenges and opportunities that it presents. Sorry if I sound condescending. Perhaps this is the wrong forum.

Hmmm… some times I wonder why I write in a forum of people who are in the business of establishing their young professions into some thing that is valued by society and industry. Perhaps I do them harm. But that is not my intention.

I attempt there to point out the significant changes that are now taking place , the challenges and opportunities that it presents. Sorry if I sound condescending. Perhaps this is the wrong forum.

It seems as though you’re trying spark a reaction. Everyone has heard this all before, it’s not new. Like MasterBlater said today, most of the customisable products out there today mostly involve graphics. 3D printing in consumers homes is hypothetical, you seem pretty certain it’s heading that way though…

Nobody has said they’re reluctant to change, they just don’t agree that it’s going to pan out the way you believe it will. I think there are other more realistic issues that are happening today that will have an impact on us as designers that we should consider. e.g. the economy, consumption, sustainability, another industrial revolution.

You seem pretty set on trying to ‘scare’ everyone with your prediction of change, so why not discuss subjects that are a bit more realistic and relevant than ‘so what if everyone had a 3d printer?’

This was so hashed out in this discussion:

No one wants to reheat this topic again so soon. I didn’t even read any of the posts, but I’ll say this. In the movie Star Trek, that have that “replicator” thing where they can get whatever they want whenever they want. Do they ever get anything new with that 3d printer? Nope.

3d printing will go to the masses at some point. The first thing that will happen is that there will be an open source online database of Mechwarrior robots, or Dungeon & Dragons figures and dorks will print them out an paint them.

After that, a company like Apple will realize they can make money on that database. They will work with Rashid, or Stark to do a specific collection of simple 1 part products like Salt and Pepper shakers, with 101 variations. You will download the file for 10.99 and print it, unmodified.

Manufactures no longer manufacture products. Apple is not a manufacturer, they have vendors do that. They are now a Brand management house. Instead of sending 3d files to vendors, they will send them to you, for you to print out.

I don’t have more to add that hasn’t already been said (great summary, BTW, Yo. I’d put money on that prediction if possible) except the following-

  1. just because you can, doesn’t mean you will. Most people have easy access to build their own furniture ($300 of tools and supplies at Home Depot would likely get you enough for a table and chair) but most don’t.

  2. just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Powerpoint presentations, 1000 fonts in Microsoft word. Nuff said.

  3. Just because you can and you should, doesn’t mean it will be good. Take a look at a SkyMall catalog or your average Walmart and you can find enough crap designed by trained designers that is still garbage. Think the average Joe who doesn’t have the training and skills can do any better?

Design is not about the tools, it’s not about the result (in a way), it’s about the process, insight and thinking that go along with it. These things, all technology aside will keep design in the hands of designers for the most part, IMHO.

No doubt there will be a few exceptions of great things produced by non-classically trained designers, but I certainly do believe in the big picture our jobs our safe.



R

And those non-classically trained designers will probably see this as a way into the design world. That’s a great thing.

Zazzle was brought up as an example. 99% of the stuff on there is shit. Threadless on the other hand has a loooaad of great design and that is because its worth it for good designers to get involved (I.E. they get paid).

When things hit critical mass and there is so much of it in the wild, the act of sorting though to find the good stuff is exhausting. Good Design will always have a place and if you think access to making something is the only prerequisite to good design, then I’m afraid we disagree.

No doubt there will be a few exceptions of great things produced by non-classically trained designers …

Mater artium necessitas; necessity is the mother of invention. Plato is supposed to have said that some time around 400 BC. It is timeless. If “it” does not exist, someone will create it. And there will always be those who improve upon, modify, or botch it up.

… but I certainly do believe in the big picture our jobs our safe.

Ditto.

Not to jack this thread. But, who do I call about purchasing shares of YoWay, a Division of YoBrand Products. Why settle for less? Have it YoWay, ToDay!

yo, sometimes your insight freaks me out. You’d better be doing something to protect this.

I don’t see this as being an either/or issue. Will personal fabrication equipment make it easier for “amatuers” to design and manufacture products? Yep. Will it make designers redundant? Some, but not most.

I think the best analog for mass customization is blogging. We still have magazines, people who write professionally, but we also get to hear from people who would have been silent without a platform like blogging. Great intellectuals “cool hunters” and other interesting people have used this technology to help themselves get known, and when opportunity strikes to move to more “traditional” media like publishing.

I think personal fabrication will be similar. Soon a homebuilder will be able to download designs from a database and CNC machine out decorative cabinets, or a car customizer can 3D print a new hood ornament. I don’t see the Stacks or Rashids being a big part of this, but rather It will help people who are already creative expand their productive capabilities. More and More companies will follow NIKEiD and add some custom component to their offerings.

BTW Yo, the dorks are already well set, a company called http://figureprints.com/ our of Seattle lets you have your character from World of Warcraft printed out using a Zcorp printer.

BTW, if anyone is interested in this market/technology check out my blog http://replicatorinc.com/blog/. All the fun tech with no bothersome flaming.

I forgot to mention, there will be an intermediary step. Before the 3d printers hit the mainstream, there will be centralized 3d printing houses, like FedEx Kinkos ZCorp…

Just when I decide to log-out, this discussion gets interesting. I am surprised by the guess work around intentions and it seems, according to Boogey Man - I am scaring people, but as he advices let us “discuss subjects that are a bit more realistic and relevant “

This discussion was not meant to be about 3d printing – which has a long way to go. I wished the discussion to be about the role of designers in consumer design creation that is now happening.

Yo suggest a scenario:

After that, a company like Apple will realize they can make money on that database. They will work with Rashid, or Stark to do a specific collection of simple 1 part products like Salt and Pepper shakers, with 101 variations. You will download the file for 10.99 and print it, unmodified.

Yes, this will be happen. But what happens when an even smarter company makes Joe feel like “Rashid” . Joe may end up being voted well above Rashid. Its very unlikely that Joe will want to pay a premium for the squiggly bit of dysfunctional design when he can do his own squiggly bit.

Not sure if the user generated era is going to be favorable for media artists – who will most certainly fail to impress Joe. What is called Kitsch may rule the roost . “Rashid” may not be able to take the heat.

But who are we to Judge ? Online communities and opinion making will radically alter the way the Starks of the future are created. The structure that re-distributes annual design awards may vanish altogether.

I am not claiming here, that I know what is going to happen. But Rashid is a smart guy, I heard recently that he is into user generated design. So if this thing takes off he will certainly share that SixPack with Joe.

Rkuchinsky makes an interesting point :

Just because you can and you should, doesn’t mean it will be good. Take a look at a SkyMall catalog or your average Walmart and you can find enough crap designed by trained designers that is still garbage. Think the average Joe who doesn’t have the training and skills can do any better?

Now again the way social communities work in selecting designs – is closer to how echo systems work. There is the act of creation (Sage Vastyana classified 64 methods) and there is the act of selection – which what old man Darwin figured out as the competition of the fittest – which makes the method of creation completely irrelevant. So Darwin wins. An echo system of a social network is a competitive design environment in itself. It is capable of generating a lot of possibilities and choosing design solutions that are most popular amongst its participants.

Asngo makes a very interesting observation :

Zazzle was brought up as an example. 99% of the stuff on there is shit. Threadless on the other hand has a loooaad of great design and that is because its worth it for good designers to get involved (I.E. they get paid).

When things hit critical mass and there is so much of it in the wild, the act of sorting though to find the good stuff is exhausting. Good Design will always have a place and if you think access to making something is the only prerequisite to good design, then I’m afraid we disagree.

Here too, most social communities sort this problem out by floating the more popular ones on top. So with 99% junk, a site can be very successful – as Zazzle is and UTube is. The 99% junk is important in creating that 1%. We should not use old yard sticks to asses new situations. We have to recognize Zazzle as a highly successful company that is able to deliver what consumers want and make profit – ask your boss if he wants anything else from you.

according to Boogey Man - I am scaring people

Woah, misquote! That’s not what I said at all. Re-read it, you seem to enjoy the fact that you THINK you’re scaring people. You’re not though.

SK…if I am taking what you’re saying correctly…basically you’re applying the Long Tail theory to design.

“User Created Design”…is more often than not garbage. Waaayyyy down the long tail. There’s money to be made, sure. But the percentages of misses will significantly outweigh the hits. This is proving itself out very well in the music industry.

The flaw in the Long Tail, and what I see as the flaw in User Center Design, is that there is a very distinct line that is crossed and the “hits” are still collecting the lion’s share of revenue.

What this adds up to is that the entrepreneurs that set up the Zazzle.coms, uTube.coms, Threadless.coms, etc. will be making the money, not the “Designers”. The top 10 - 20 % of the designers (aka professionals) will make some good coin off this.

Because remember, that first User Created Design that makes the person a hit is likely not a fluke. They’re good at design and suddenly they’re professional (think American Idol).

So, at the end of the day, should we as professional designers be getting involved at that entrepreneurial level? I believe so. The only “professional designers” that might have to worry about their job are the one’s whose skill, drive, insight, whatever, isn’t enough to push them into that top 20% at the head of the Long Tail.

Nothing happens because even if Joe feels like the next Karim, he probably isn’t. He’s also probably too busy watching on demand movies or HD cable. Have you used Garage Band lately to edit your new symphony? Or published you next novel through web publishing?

I think one thing you are missing, design is a damn competitive world.

If we were all so terrified of someone else being better (hint, there is always someone better out there) no one would design.

If someone is a good designer then they deserve to get the opportunity to create.

The exciting part of RP and digital tools is the fact that they give MORE control to the creators and less to the bureaucrats.

One early example of this is what is happening with design entrepreneurs.
Check out Astro’s gaming headphones.
Designers. Contract Mfg. Online distribution.
Swap out contract MFG with RP.

Agreed. Right now, one of the biggest things holding us back are development and manufacturing costs. Tooling is damn expensive. If we use RP processes to manufacture products, we’ve essentially gotten rid of tooling costs (once the machine is amortized that it).

Things can be essentially manufactured to order. Consumers can select from a wider array of options, those with the technical abilities and motivation can learn how to do it themselves (maybe 1%), but also, people wealthy enough can contract a private designer to have custom products made.

That is changing…fast.

I can’t believe some of the pricing I am getting out of Asia for tooling.

There is, and I don’t believe it will disappear quickly, a significant lack of trust when it comes to quality. Meaning people in North America don’t trust that an Asian vendor will produce a high quality part/tool for that low price.

Which…in many respects is true. You get what you pay for.

Glad to see this discussion taking a positive turn.

SK…if I am taking what you’re saying correctly…basically you’re applying the Long Tail theory to design.

Not sure if I am. The long tail is about the significance of the many small entities that collectively account a large proportion of activity. As far as design and manufacture is concerned things were produced this way in the past, but the industrial revolution put an end to this. There may be some minor tendency in the reverse direction. But the majority of the goods continue to be produced by industrial entities - which employ industrial designers.

Competitive pressure is pushing these entities to allow customers to create their own stuff and promote it and co- brand it. Many are trying and doing a bad job at it. Designers seem to be uninvolved in this and from what I sense in this forum - see it more of a threat to the profession.


So, at the end of the day, should we as professional designers be getting involved at that entrepreneurial level? I believe so.

May be they should. But I am not recommending this :


The risks are far too great. The technologies that will one day radically change the industrial and manufacturing infrastructure are in my opinion not there yet. Also as IP points out crowd sourced design - drastically reduces the pay out to designers. So these are issues that need to be grappled with.

There are far thinking companies like ponoko and shapeways trying to make this happen. They can benefit from positive support of the design community.

Nothing happens because even if Joe feels like the next Karim, he probably isn’t. He’s also probably too busy watching on demand movies or HD cable. Have you used Garage Band lately to edit your new symphony? Or published you next novel through web publishing?

Let me share a story about my friend Naga, whom I know at school and college. He studied anthropology, though smart , he had god awful taste. Last month he asked me to take a look at his flicker album, I did not bother. The distance between him and photography I felt was greater than that between the sun and the moon. Last week, a highly respected photographer suggested that take a look at what Naga was up to. So I did.

I was shocked to realize how wrong I was. When I dug through to find out how he became so good at it, with no formal training he said “I just put stuff out on flicker”. You know, he said - people comment on it. I realized that my friend Naga was the beneficiary of an unpaid dedicated global crit panel. I see similar stuff happening in many 2D and 3d forums and I believe that Joe too can learn by participating in such forums.

The internet is unlocking human talent with phenomenal efficiency. The distinction between formal and informal will diminish in time. This is perhaps not a bad thing. I do not hear any photographer complaining about people taking photographs.

You have a disparity that I think you need to resolve here. User created design that doesn’t do well or requires “the assistance of a designer” falls into the shallow end of the long tail. If that same “non-designer” hires a “professional” to pull it out of the Long Tail, that is called consulting…unless you’re implying those pros shouldn’t get paid which I don’t think you are.

It is about money. Whether it is to make money by creating the design, or to save money by creating it yourself. The metric has to be $$.

A user can create a design, but it doesn’t make money, or it saves them some money. That is the shallow end of the long tail. The same user hires a designer to help, makes a LOT of money or saves themself a LOT of money, that starts moving up to the deep end of the Long Tail. That same user makes a LOT of money and continues to make a LOT of money and creates MORE designs.

So, I don’t know. I guess at the end of the day, I find the question to be moot. We’re rehashing and attempting to find a problem that doesn’t exist. Design is design. People do it and always have. Some will be good at it, some won’t. Some will be “formally educated” and some will learn by hard knocks.

So, however they get there…who cares?