Sketching ≠ Designing

To my fellow Industrial Designers,

PLEASE don’t be that guy, you know, the one who draws pretty pictures of totally unmanufacturable products and calls it Industrial Design. It gives us all a bad rap. I had another beautiful “unicorn rendering” handed to me today and was asked when we could produce the prototype. The designer made zero recommendations for materials and processes. Gorgeous swoopy curvy lines, dude. No clue or care what the tooling cost would be or impact on the final product price. The customer paid good money for this design, and they think it’s all good to go into production. And the scale was just F’ed. Folks, MEASURE the stuff that goes inside and make a cube in Solidworks or something so you can at least draw the skin to scale. Questions on materials and processes, and even basic functions, produced akward silences. Now we get to be the bad news bears: “Sorry, but that needs to be twice as large and totally different proportions, and cost $200K in tooling…” Nice picture, bad design.

Sketching is fun, but please be responsible and think through your designs!

Oooooooh so frustrated, so please excuse the rant.

I’m sorry. I’ll do better next time, but don’t you dare try to take my swoops away from me.

This is not a post about sketching well. It is a post about designing poorly.

Yo, I think it’s easy to read this post as ‘good sketching excludes good design’*, but the point is as I see it sketching is just one of many skills and many considerations needed to achieve a good design. So as you said, there’s a difference between designing well (a process that includes sketches) and designing poorly (e.g. just sketching with no thought behind it).

Good sketching alone does not give you good design. No sketching at all will not give you a good design either, I would add.

*as in yet another sketching vs cad thread

You can design poorly without being able to sketch well, which is my point. Why put sketching well or poorly into the equation at all. I know plenty of crap sketchers who are also crap designers. Adding another skill into the equation just muddies it, like saying great model maker does not equal great designer, or great thinker does not equal great designer…

I agree and I think we’re very much on the same page here as it was :slight_smile:

Absolutely, you ideally need both a good idea & the visualization chomps to communicate it and sell it well.

The problem with a pretty picture of a bad idea is that is LOOKS good enough that people trust it. They assume a beautiful design is realizable. The handoff I got… it was nowhere near the level of completion the client believed it to be. Half baked concepts perpetuate the boardroom talk about Industrial Designers as expensive artists who are out of touch with reality. It hurts our collective credibility.

If the client wanted a style guide, the guy did a great job. If they wanted something that could be handed to a manufacturer… um, what material is this again?

Just saying, think it through, and present it as what it is.

I think CAD is actually a worse offender here. People assume because it is in CAD it all fits and works, and that is not always true. A sketch is obviously not real, no matter how pretty the lines are. It is the visual manifestation of an idea. A step closer to being realized, but not the final design.

Cool. The culprit is bad design no matter what outsized skill it hides behind!

Another one of these discussions :unamused:

Yes it is frustrating when a nice sketch or a clean rendering hide all of the flaws and weakly thought out parts of a design, but as designers it is part of our job to help the client learn about the intricacies of designing a product. There seems to be a lot of anger towards renderings. I wonder why they are getting all the hate lately?

The problem is people not specifically stating or having enough knowledge on what they are selling and people not having enough knowledge to know what they are buying.

I think everyone has made some great comments and all are pretty true. And as i see it there is so much education that need to be done on all fronts. Designers at all levels learning to properly communicate design and follow through with more then just some up front sketches no matter how nice they look. keeping in mind at times it is a two way street, i.e. many times there is not enough time or the client doesn’t want to spend the upfront money to have the ID phase fully detail out the concept. And then again sometime it comes down to the fact that the designer doesn’t have the knowledge yet to go further. I partially blame schools on this were in the teachers are not pushing the students to dive deeper into the design and to get past the exterior sketch.

Now with that said about sketches it stays so true when it is then taken to the next level and a 3D model / rendering is made based off of the "surface " sketch. All of this to the untrained observes makes the design look that much more complete…

But don’t get me wrong, this type of work flow has been great to keep me employed and in the money, as one of my specialties is taking designs and making them manufacturable and match costing needs, while maintaining the design intent as best as possible. I have just been handle another project were in the product’s cost has been set, and then a ID sketch provided that is so far off I will need to spend time refining it to match the customers needed costs.

Chevis W.

I don’t think it is hate, but instead frustration… You see this pretty picture and the client falls in love with it and as mentioned before because it is more then a sketch they think it is fully thought out. Then when they get told they can’t have it someone has to deal with the repercussions… or if you are the designer that has to change it to make it work you sometimes get an earful from the designer on how “you butchered” the design intent. And we don’t always get to say “yes well you should have spent more time ensuring your design could be made”

I have often been told by designers that I missed opportunities in the ID phase or I don’t push the boundaries often enough. But I pride myself on how little design changes from the time i finish the ID and the client approves it to the time it goes into production. And I usually do 2 pretty renderings, 1 for ID sign off before it goes to full engineering, and then 1 using the completed engineering data base that is for production.

Chevis W.

I do agree with you that it’s more frustration than hate, but I was just wondering why there have been so many posts revolving on this topic over the past few weeks, is it just that time of year where this problem comes up for most companies? This problem isn’t that new is it? Even so I guess we need a reminder every now and then that there is more to being a designer than creating amazing looking pictures.

I think with all the advancements in the software end and how quick and fast you can turn out a rendering… We are seeing much more 3D images being used in up front presentations more often. Thus there is an increased exposure… I remember when 3D renderings were used as a sales tool ONCE THE DESIGN WAS fully thought out. Now they are used to show images at the upfront early concept stage in place of sketches at some time. I have also seen were designers spend more time polishing a rendering concept the they do actually designing the concept.

All of this falls into a category that i have yet been able to define but spans across so many areas were in Technology is far out pacing social boundaries and best practices and as “children” we are over eager to play with the new toy and forget about the old “box”

This all directly relates to a influx of people expressing their negative views on the board.

Chevis W.

a nice sketch of a bad product doesn’t make it a good product
my motto : KISS: keep it simple stupid !!!
the design should suggest de purpose of the product

The design itself is either the problem or the solution. The visual representation should fit the situation and be as effective as possible at describing said design. A good designer should be able to deliver sketches AND renders.

Whew…I’ve managed to limit my sketches vs. render response to three sentences. A new milestone for me. :slight_smile:

Good sketching is one thing, but design is not another.
It is one part of design.And not any good design can be producted.

It’s not the tool (sketching, CAD), the designer/engineer or the perceptions and misconceptions of stakeholders, but a complex mix of all three.

The ways in which a design idea is represented and communicated does depend, to an extent, upon the character of the design tool (sketch vs. 3D CAD model). However, the designer’s manipulation of the ‘tool’ will also influence the ways in which designs are represented and communicated. Idiosyncratic use of tools comes from the skills and experiences of the designer, BUT is also influenced by the requirements of practice - that includes stakeholder expectation and the outcome of industrial design - specification for manufacture.

The problem comes when the designer is less aware of/chooses to ignore? These related principles, goes away and comes back with a sketch/CAD model/rendering which is more about ‘this is what I did at the weekend’ than it is about ‘design’…See it all the time with design students…I’m not sure if evolution in digital and hybrid design tools has compounded this tendency or not. But I think it’s about awareness. Awareness of the strengths and limitations of the design tool and the ways in which it may be used to represent and communicate design intent at various stages and for different purposes during the design process.

Sketching is part of the design process. Sketching is, in a way, “thinking out loud” and exploration. Some don’t sketch well because they don’t think well or enough.

I would argue this point… if i am understanding your comment you are associating a good sketch with a well though out design. And if the sketch is poor it is because the design thought is poor.

I have seen horrible sketches that represent great designs. And beautiful sketch that are no more then that, with the design being poorly thought out.

So many young designers are getting caught up in the skills (sketching / modeling / rendering or what ever) and are missing the point that a bad design is still that no matter how great you present it. the old saying no mater how much you polish a turd it will always be a turd.

I can write out a paragraph that describes a design and it can still be a great design even if only presented in written form…