“Do not seek praise, seek criticism.”

-Paul Arden

Left: 1st Attempt at rendering this product / Right: About 10th attempt at rendering

There is nothing quite satisfying as completing a project! My journey with sketching and rendering has been fun, and equally frustrating. But through so many online tutorials and harsh Reddit (r/IndustrialDesign) criticism, I’ve progressed faster at this set of skills than I ever have at anything else.

Hence this post’s quote up top. Seeking criticism, no matter how harsh is truly a difference maker. This rendering isn’t perfect; the glass could be smoother, the staging and photography of the products could be much more engaging and communicative. But it is complete!

Inspiration for my Blender render

This design is a trend I’ve noticed on Pinterest, and served as good rendering practice. The next set of products I render will be an original design.

Learn with me.

Learning Design: Finish the Sketch

Left: Concept sketches I only spent 15min on. Right: 3D model of the concept, I’ve spent 2 weeks on.

Like many creatives, I am easily excited by shiny, new toys. I came up a bright wine glass design to solve a common problem. So I quickly sketched a few concepts, none of them quite capturing the vision.

I then skipped every other step in the design process, and jumped straight to modeling a prototype. I began learning Blender, a 3D modeling software. I made about a dozen unsatisfactory models. I got hung up on small kinks and learning to navigate the software.

But the actual reason none of the models rendered the way I wanted them to is because my vision wasn’t clear. And I should have stuck to my pen/paper until the sketches accurately captured my vision.

The entire effort wasn’t a waste, however. I did learn the basics of modeling and rendering photo-realistic designs in Blender. I’ll just be sure to flush out my design before attempting to prototype.

Learn with me.

In this time at home, I completed a 6 week course on product design. The course was a perfect introduction to idea-generation, user research, sketching, and prototyping for product design. Over the 6 weeks, I developed a product solution for a problem I identified in my own user experience. See my journey through the design process below!

The Problem Statement

Create a durable, yet simple way to attach bike locks to bike frames.

I’m an avid cyclist, as such I have owned many U-Locks. The mechanism which attaches the lock to the frame has always been a hassle for me. It slips over time. It’s a pain to attach. It can be better.

Defining User Needs

The primary needs for the attachment mechanism are as follows:

The attachment is durable.

The attachment is more convenient than that permanently attaching items to the bike frame.

The attachment is aesthetically pleasing.

The attachment is installed easily.

The attachment is sturdy.

! The attachment can be locked to avoid theft of the attached item.

The attachment does not wear or damage the item which it is attaching.

The attachment is compatible with U-locks.

Each of the listed needs break out into more specific needs, totaling over 30 individual needs that the end product should meet. This formatting is quite useful for organizing needs after conducting user research. Click here for the full list of needs.

Weighing Alternatives

There are many different ways to do this part of the design process. The way that was taught in the course was to decompose the problem into individual parts. Then brainstorm many different solutions for each small part. So coming up with alternatives is just a matter of combining the small ideas into one. Click here to see how I weighted alternatives.

Pencil Sketch to Digital Render

Final Prototype

Admittedly, this infographic isn’t perfect. But the focus was to clearly show the digital sketch of the prototype, and clearly describe the problem and the needs. The subpar infographic is a great segue into my next frontier of design; visual/digital design! Applying the lessons from this course, on how to conduct a full design process will certainly help in my next phase.

“Every great design begins with an even greater story.”

-Lorinda Mamo, Designer

Drawing a water bottle.

Left: My first sketch, Day 1. Right: Sketch of the same object, Week 5.

This post marks the start of my formal Design journey. Those words were chosen carefully, to avoid conflating my start on this journey with my start at designing. I’ve been designing for as long as I can remember.

Now, I’m following my own curriculum to polish my innate design capabilities with design fundamentals. The first step in that coursework is designing the tangible, and designing for function. And the first part of designing tangible objects is sketching. I’ve always titled myself, “Bad at Drawing.” But after learning a few principles, such as 2-point perspective, I’ve been able to create clear sketches of basic objects!

While I’m positive I can pick up these concepts and strengthen my design skills, the most important portion of my curriculum is sharing my designs publicly. I’m looking forward to the criticism I’ll (hopefully) receive from more experienced designers and non-designers alike. This running portfolio is a way to share my designs, hold myself accountable, and easily compare my growth over time.

If all goes well, my future self will find these sketches embarrassing and un-recognizable.