Objective Form Development

I am currently designing a table with a very special purpose, and am sketching out different forms and such.

I never really got this, because I always just form sketch until my deadline is up for school and I NEED to start building, but my question to you guys is:

When I am designing something, say a chair and start out by ideating forms through sketching. When do I know a form is “objectively” better? Or how do you guys decide if one form is better than the other?

Perhaps a better way to phrase this question:

Where do I start in sketching forms, and where should I end up and how do I get there?

Hi there.

I think it helps to construct some kind of selection criteria or objective framework and process to give a little structure to what is ultimately a very subjective thing.

For example, you can start very General: what is this table for? who is it for? For what environment? For what tasks?

With the answers to these questions you can start to build image boards for each.

From there start to develop descriptive language. Should the form feel technical or casual? Should it feel solid or light? Things like that.

Now you have some verbal and visual parameters to sort your exploration sketches into themes. Now that you have themes, name them. Which themes feel lost appropriate compared to your image boards and verbal cues? Within those themes which ideas seem most successful.

It helps to bring other people into this process. You can do the verbal part with other colleagues. And bring them into the review as well.

YO has good points, you must define what is “right” (what you’re going for) in order to have something to judge your design by. This should not only be words, but also visuals (moodboards/image boards/collages… many names for basically the same thing).

Your post reminded me of this article on core77: Sketching: Approaching the Paper with Purpose, by Paul Backett - Core77 (approaching the paper with purpose). There should be something for you in it.

my process to bring objectivity is this-

1.Create visual mood boards. Use lots of visuals people can understand, but also tag groups of things with labels so everyone can agree, “yes” these 5 things all say “strong” (or whatever) to all stakeholders.
2. Create an x-y matrix with two sets of opposing values so you can group competitor or other products into quadrants. For example “casual vs. athletic” on one axis and “contemporary vs. classic” on another. Picking the labels is the hard part. You’ll know it makes sense when all four quadrants have meaning. Or. Classic/casual or athletic/technical…pick a quadrant or position on the matrix to focus on.
3. Draft a brief that puts into words the labels from the losers and quadrant target. Here it helps to actually write sentences and have them meaningful. Breaking it into sections that focus on different things is good. Ie. Mood may be strong, complex, etc from the inspiration board, but function could be classic/casual.
4. Pull out key words from the brief as scoring factors. Give each one a weight of importance 1-10. Ie. Mood is “complex” this is most important so rated x10.
5. Score your concepts on each factor multiplied by the weight. Different stakeholders can do the same rating and you can average the results.
6. You can then have a total score for each concept that is objective and graph it. Any big differential in score for a factor will be obvious in the graph and identify an issue where you and someone else have different understanding of what a factor means. If so, go back tonight boards and matrix to ensure you are on the same page (ie. If you rate a concept 8 for “strong” and they rate it a 1 you see something different then they do. If you all agree on the factors and weights, the process is otherwise objective. Top score wins and hits all the most important factors the highest.

Sounds complicated, but better than saying "I like concept A. Because. "

R

Sample scoring matrix-