In life there is always a tension between rules and freedom; how much do you restrict freedom in order to preserve it?
The same tension exists in the product design and manufacturing process. If you don’t have some ground rules then there’s a probability, actually a really high probability, that you won’t get anywhere meaningful with the design, let alone get something made at the end the process.
The trick is that the rules have to facilitate the freedom – and no more. You could say that so as long as whatever rules or systems you have don’t get in the way of your end objective then that’s OK. But that’s not good enough, your rules and systems have to have a really positive benefit and not merely not be neutral.
Here at Makersmith one of our main services is to design and make special products and projects for Built Environment specialists – that’s architects, builders, interior and landscape designers. To do that really effectively we have a process, a framework, that we go through in order to ensure that we get the design- and the end product – right first time.
Working within a defined framework means that designers have more freedom to focus on being creative without having to think too much about the overall process and whether they are on the right track. It’s a bit like going out for a walk and going from waymarker to waymarker. You can explore and admire the view but when you get to the next signpost you know you are on the right route to reach the end.
What we do isn’t radically new but, because we do it every time, it works. So if you are our client our waymarked process goes like this:
- We listen to you and find out what you really want to achieve with the design – or project. Sometimes we realise that what you really need isn’t what you are asking for – in which case we’ll tell you!
- Your objectives are embedded in a complete specification that will roll all the way through the project and includes every factor and influence.
- You get to sign that off.
- We then indulge in our freedom to design – within the rules of the specification – and come up with viable design concepts. These are always 3 dimension computer models so that you can really see what the design looks like.
- In a meeting with you we agree the best option and you sign it off.
- The detail design is then worked out to give a really efficient and cost effective end product.
- Just to make sure we sit down with you to make sure that you are entirely happy and then you get out your pen again and sign the design off to production.
- There’s not so much freedom now but instead we focus on cost effective manufacturing processes; we make the project.
- Finally of course, we ship, or deliver and install the project. Unsurprisingly it looks just like the computer model and matches the specification.
- You are very happy.
That’s it in a nutshell, it works, and better still, it means that you know throughout the process how things are going and what your project is looking like. We don’t go off into a corner and suddenly produce a finished product that isn’t quite what you wanted.
So – that’s why design processes are better than sliced bread…