Developing the form & order of operations.

I’m sure that all designers have their own goto process when developing a form (especially freelancers). These change significantly when working with different types of products. Individuals have their own strengths, which are surely capitalized upon.

In school I was taught:

  1. Market/field research
  2. Mood boards
  3. Initial exploratory forms/thumbnails
  4. Step back, reflect
  5. Develop selections into a larger selection of concepts
  6. Pink foam models
  7. Cad Model
  8. Cad Refinements/color selection

I like to take this and:

  1. Improv
  2. Improv
  3. Improv

What does your process look like? If your approach differs, what product types do you work on and what makes it different? Why?

Do you skip a typical step all together? What do your clients like to see the most?

It’s a generally similar process, but my preference when possible is to skip from step 3 to step 6, when possible jump into CAD and then 3D print, then refine and iterate with sketching and 3D. Tangible designs are always the most valuable, and keeping that design tied to a 3D database keeps you more honest then the foam route.

I like being able to flesh out a basic form, validate in 3D that it works, then work on adding the details in 3D, vs creating lots of detailed concept sketches then finding out they won’t translate into 3D.

I tend to work steps 1-3 in parallel.

I do 1-8 in parallel unless I’m severely constrained by time. I find CAD to be as powerful a tool as pink foam for form building. Sometimes a little mistake or an earlier state in the modeling ends up sparking new ideas. Sometimes it forces me to re-examine my mechanical layouts. I think the insights I get from sculpting in foam tend to be smaller and more detail oriented than what I find in CAD.

No matter what stage I’m at though, paper and pen is next to me. I always find I have more ideas while building a mood board than when it is finished. I can’t afford to lose those ideas!

Truth is, it is not a linear process, more of a spiral in toward a solution.

Correct. And runs in parallel.

I don’t care much for the narrow focus of the list of 8. It also implies an equal weight, which is completely incorrect.

I see the process as 3 steps that do have a relatively equal weight.

  1. Discovery - What is going on with the customer/market?
  2. Strategy - What are we going to do about it.
  3. Implementation - Get it done.

As for OP, his #1 falls into discovery. But discovery also includes exploratory, directional and confirmatory research. It should be happening at all times, while you are doing the strategy and implementation. As they are done at all times too. Makes for a hectic process :slight_smile: .

The OP’s #2 sort of falls into my #2, but it is really a tool to be used in my #3. Strategy is really defining the problem. The customer cannot define the problem, they can only say what is their current practice. They may say my horse eats and craps 10 pounds a day, does not like the cold and takes 2 hours to get to town. Strategy defines the problem as the customer needs less maintenance, less cost and greater efficiency.

The OP’s #2-8 falls into #3, solving the problem, but again, leaves out so much. What’s the business case? How to manufacture? Does it fall withing the company’s brand identity? etc. Implementation solves the problem created by strategy as a car, a “better” horse.

Honestly, I see the process outlined in the OP as a styling method. Which is a very small part of implementation. Most of what we do day-to-day is in implementation, but you cannot be walled off from discovery and strategy. If you are walled off, you stand little chance of being innovative.