model building

So I am a relatively new designer…as in I am designing something for an interview with an art school. I could probably ask a lot of questions but I will start with this one. When building a model, what is expected? What materials are acceptable. Paper and glue? Or do they want the actual materials? Right now the final product will most likely be in metal and glass. I don’t have access to any workshop and I have few tools and little money? Any advice? directions? websites? would be very appreciated…

whatever you can use to clearly communicate your idea, is an acceptable material.
The important thing is that other people easily understand the idea.
Anybody can learn to build a beautiful finished model. Most of the time, it’s the thought process that matters.

Some of the best ideas are communicated by puting together found or common house hold materials. This is what you need to think of. Don’t be afraid to use what you can find in you garage or in the kitchen. I don’t know if they are trying to get you to give them a full finished model or just an “breadboard model or Sketch model”. These are models that communicate the idea and the function of the product with out diving deep into the specifics of the materials.

I guess what I am trying to say is just try to be creative with it. Don’t be affraid to use you imagination.

yes, this is all helpful. I know they are interested in the process and then they also ask for a “model/design/product”…the specific question asks that I “…work (the idea) out in 2D and make a model of it in 3D”. I suppose I will do what I can, use what I can find to make a clean model. This is the idea I am getting. Should it be to scale or just approximate dimensions?

Depends on how detailed your design is going to be. If you are just communicating an loose idea, a rough concept, than it doesn’t need to be perfectly scaled.
If you come up with a finished, detailed design and you’ve got all your dimensions figured out, than it might be wise to build it perfectly to scale, so you and your client can get a better idea of how the design looks (and feels) in 3d.

Then again, it all depends on why you are building the model in the first place and what you want to do with it. If for instance a product needs to fit in ones hand, than it might be wise to experiment with form and models in an early stage of the project, to test if certain ideas fit ergonomically.
If you wait untill your design is finished, and than afterwards you build your model and come to the conclusion it doesn’t fit in your hand, than you can start over again.

Models can be built in all stages of a design project and generally they get more detailed towards the end of the project.


I feel like you are getting a bit ahead of me here…it is not clear whether I need to be considering a potential client or not, but then again I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to do so. The knowledge that models are built at all stages, however is very helpful. This is exactly what I was just about to do and knowing that professional designers might go through this process many times makes me feel a bit more secure. All of your help has been great!

I have already made a complete design with dimensions and details, so I might try to build a miniature “scale” model (since it is rather large). Again I have little experience to go on that aids me in knowing how ‘possible’ a certain design is. Which brings me to the next question. I am not sure if the materials I want to use can be used in the way I would like… I have been researching like mad through out the design process (i even contacted a physics professor at MIT a few days ago to help me with certain questions…and he did!)…now crossing forums…is there a way to figure out how certain materials can be used (specifically metal and glass, or similar)…or going the other way how to use certain materials? And as well the strength and weight of final forms?

Yes, I am looking for a quick solution to something I know I wil learn in time. But I really don’t have a choice. Is there such a solution?

anyone at all…? I am sure you all know something I don’t…

…in my experience, prototyping has almost replaced sketching/rrendering in the communication of concepts throughout the design process…starting in foam-core board and hot melt glue or sculpted from a solid block of foam or clay…these models cam be created in hours and any finishing is more a matter of how much time you have or the stage of concept development…a little bondo and paint can transform these early form studies into decent looking protos…as far as production materials go, you can get good feel for this simply by examining existing products using these same materials in similar ways or you can contact suppliers for guidance…most have application engineers or others who do this sort of thing all day long.