(Need help) Starting a new project

Hi all,

I am really inspired by the projects everyone is doing and have decided to get moving myself. Now that I have a lot of spare time on my hands, I want to commit to a design project from research all the way through to a working prototype. Only problem is I’m having trouble deciding on a problem to solve.

I’m interested in athletics and sports like basketball and tennis but I don’t want to do another footwear project. Other areas I’m interested in are music and film. However I’m open to ideas outside of these areas.

If you have any suggestions of problems I should base my research around I would really appreciate it.

What is this project for and at what stage in your career are you?
Student, recent grad, mid-level designer with experience?
This might help frame your approach and think about the audience you want to present the project to.
Or is it only for your own development?

Since you are interested in athletics and are willing to spend some time and effort on research, maybe you could look at prosthetics and health/injury related products. With the inclusion of technological advancements, you might come out with a really interesting project that goes beyond a trendy styling exercise without forgetting to make it also attractive.

Hi Bepster,

Apologies for not specifying this, I am a 3 yr industrial design student at university. The project is really to help me build upon all the skills I’ve learnt and give me a strong portfolio piece. I will look into those suggestions, my only concern with health related stuff is proving that the product actually works for the body. I want this to solve a problem but also be fun to work on.

Thanks for the suggestions

Great! That seems to me like the perfect time for a personal project to help strengthen your portfolio in a direction that you might not have gotten out of your studies.

You might want to check out Emmanuel’s (Sain here on the boards) shin guard project. It’s a good example of where you could take a theme and idea, use current technology and come out the other end with a cool contemporary product.

Notice the holistic product pitch. By turning something rather mundane and hidden into a personalized product with character, I bet it was fun to work on.

Hey Fresh_meat,

Props for starting a personal project. My biggest piece of advice for picking personal projects is to pick a topic that you are genuinely interested in learning more about. Do not pick a topic that is trendy/something you think other people will want to see. The biggest hurdle to personal projects, in my opinion, after getting started is finishing.

I wouldn’t worry about doing “another footwear project”, because ultimately any topic can be “another” if you let it be just that. If you’re interested in footwear then find a way to elevate it to something more interesting then styling and aesthetics. If you’re not interested because you want to round out your portfolio with other stuff, that’s another thing.

Also is there a specific skill that you want to develop through this project? I’ve found that some of my favorite personal projects are one’s were I spend 20% of the project working on developing a specific skill (maybe using Photoshop for the first time to render, learning to use Keyshot, conducting in home interviews, learning to weld etc.) Answering this might spark some ideas.

There’s a pretty good skillshare class called “Expressing Yourself with Personal Passion Projects” might be worth signing up for the free trial to check it out. Trailer: Expressing Yourself With Personal Passion Projects - Kevin Lyons - YouTube

Good luck picking the topic!

  • Matt

Wow, thanks for the example Bepster. I see how this approach could be applied to health/sport related products.

Thanks for the help Matt, I want to develop my whole design process. I spent the summer doing footwear internships so ideally I would like to diversify my portfolio. You’re are absolutely right about picking a topic that involves more than just styling. I think health/sport related are areas of interest for me.

Such as:


Thanks for the link I’ll give it a look

[ Deleted ]

Thanks for sharing that skillshare class Matt, it’s extremely helpful and inspiring!

Hi Keno,

Thanks for your thoughts, the ice pack idea is interesting. I have a lot of friends who use ice not only to treat injury but to prevent injury as well. I also like the idea of the humanitarian twist, it could add a different perspective to the project. I’m going to continue to research these areas before I have at least three good directions. I’ll let you know when I reach that point to decide which direction is best. Thanks again

Whatever you do, design it where you and your friends are NOT the targeted user group. As a potential employer, the portfolios that stand out are the ones where projects are not for some college kid.

If you are going to bite off something as large as performance/training/recovery/, please have a portion of your project dedicated to user evaluation of your ideas. And not having them look at pictures. Pictures can only get you “If it works, I like it.” Get user evaluation of how it actually works, get to prototypes quickly. Performance/training/recovery requires physical use.