Time spent on concept development and styling?

How long do some professionals spend on styling their designs? Is 8 hours enough? Is there actually a guideline for how quickly one must find a solution to stay in business and not get fired;) ?

I just want to know how quickly a professional must arrive with a good styling solution, not how much sketches one must go through to get to the final concept. Of course, I know that there’s automotive, consumer products, industrial sectors, etc. It would be great to find out how much time is allocated for styling/image development in each of these sector.

It depends on what you’re designing, but I don’t think 8 hours is enough to do anything other than some quick concept development. I usually can’t even fully wrap my head around a design without a day or two of just understanding things, identifying problem areas, and then spend many many more days to refine the design in 2D and 3D. Then it’s on to rapid prototypes, human factors evaluations, design reviews, and back to the drawing board to refine even further.

I don’t think you can ever quantify time spent on a design. I say they spend as much time as they can on it. I don’t think designers ever stop thinking about styling. It starts from day one and lasts until production. They have to consider aesthetics from the sketches, to the 3d models, to the manufacture (materials, joining, finishes, etc). And I believe that you can never finish designing something, so you can only spend the amount of time the client gives you.

Sometimes its 10 minutes, sometimes its 10 months. It’s not accounting. Sometimes 2+2 does not = 4.

The short answer, you spend as much time as it takes to get it as good as you can within reason.

I find a few things help me to expedite the process.

  1. and always 1, think about who is using this object
  2. create a mood board of aspirational products for these people
  3. create a moodboard of un related, tangental forms as inspiration

It’s hard to cook a meal if you don’t have your pantry stocked with good ingredients.

For me, the amount of time spent is directly proportional to the budget.

Several months in my experience. That include a credible wall-full of research-based mood boards and sketches plus a handfull of models and renderings, and 3-6 group crits, downselects and variations.

That said, I don’t see why your first round of thumbnails couldn’t take 8 hours.

Automotive Design can be years, although I think the Chevy Aveo was done in 8 hours.

haha… zing! :smiley:

not enough :wink:

Seriously it is the most important part of the design process. It all starts in the initial phase. If you f*** up there you’ll never get a good product in the end. I find it strange that many people don’t get this. Sketching and idea-generating is time consuming but not as expensive as making molds for a crappy or bad styled product.
But hey as usual creativity doesn’t sell and therefore most designer don’t get the time to do it right. I’ve heard of a famous japanese designer that demands a half-year incubation period of his client after he received the assignment. After that period of time he’ll show his first ideas in sketch-form…I wish I could do that :wink:

I’m somewhat afraid you think 8 hours is enough to define roughly a project.

Think about it : the total development time is easily one year. Can be somewhat like half a year to 3 years, or more. So this all important time were you get the right napkin sketch can, must, be extended far more than 8 hours. It really matters to obtain enough time to think it right.
If even you think a handfull of hours is enough you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

As everybody says it greatly varies.
But when I have a consultancy work for us I have a rule of thumb. I propose a first meeting (that is a the initial brief meeting) after 4 to 5 weeks. Eventually settle to 3 if the marketers are particularly annoying.

I don’t really care how much time they will actually spend on the project or working for other clients. They’re professionnals I’m used to work with I trust them to deliver on time. But to me it’s important to give an idea time to gestate. To rippen, or mature.
I’m persuaded that for a given project
-A 4 weeks deadline, including 2 weeks of actual work
-Or a project with 2 weeks deadline and 2 weeks work
the first will be better. No more work hours but more brain iddling possibilities.

Of course don’t get me wrong. In hardgoods (I guess it’s faster in softgoods) the whole process takes a while so it’s not over in 1 month !

There is one exception : when a student you’re there to learn so you should work the whole duration !
This iddling theory works better with trained minds !

What do you guys think ? Iddling works for you or if it’s not pen and paper time it’s just lost time ?

[The actual number of days given in my exemple isn’t really the point as products varies greatly in complexity and deliverables varies too. Is there Research ? Mood boards ? Concepts boards ? Established brand identity or not ? Many options, few options, “give us your single best proposal” ? Modeling ? Rendering ? I know you were asking for a certain phase and in my example they have to deliver more]

I think your client’s decisions will dictate the scope of each project. Do they have a brand identity established? Can they envision the final concept? That being said I still haven’t seen this phase take less than 8 hrs.

I think the key mistake in your question is the word “styling” - I pretty sure I know what you meant, but of course you can’t categorize what we do as styling, it’s one dirty word in my design world experience. We do problem-solving in every sense of the word, including making whatever we’re designing beautiful, also in every sense of the word. And there is simply no way to ever put even a rough time estimate on concept ideation/refinement, due to the very nature of such creative process. Budget and deadline constraints dictate when you’ve got to get it done - and of course in the real world there’s virtually never enough time allocated for design.

Eeeeee… :neutral_face:

If the budget was low I would still give them the best thing of whatever it was I was making that I could. That is sort of our job. I’m not trying to flame your method, but I just disagree. Maybe I’m reading it all wrong.

I’ll try to be more clear, but I am not the most eloquent writer.

I run a business which is based on billable hours. I make a recommendation to the potential client on what it takes to complete a project with a proposal. That proposal is very clear on goal, objectives and deliverables. That budget = time x rate. Some clients accept it, some have limited budgets and may need to cut in some areas. I always accomodate the client, but the amount of time spent on any given project is directly proportional to the budget. That is just good business.

My projects are rarely, if not never, only a styling exercise. Most, if not all, include primary & secondary reasearch, strategy development, and product development. All of my clients expect innovation. That innovation rarely comes from styling alone and mostly comes from user experience and strategy. I am fully aware that styling enhances the user experience, but so do a lot of other factors and all get a thorough exploration based on the amount of time budgeted. Again, I consider that good business.

Are you suggesting I should give my clients free work? On some cases, I do. But they are few and far between.