- What materials and processes have you worked with
Most materials spanning low volume fabrication to high volume production, including additive and subtractive processes. This includes natural materials such as cloth, wood and fibre, sheet metal bending/forming/finishing, metal milling/turning shaping, plastics forming/injection/blow/rotomolding and large scale fibreglass composite work.
- Largest and smallest items you have designed
Railway coach interiors and driver’s cabin design, with toys and tableware at the small end of the spectrum.
- Most complex project and why
Front end of railway engines, railway coach interiors and drivers cabin. The sheer number of parties involved span from Government entities mired in bureaucracy, rivalry and decisions not often not following logic, to vendors and supply chains. Besides, the multiple use of materials and processes mean handling vastly varying tolerances which show up at the joints. Design here is an intense exercise of speculating what could go wrong and cleaning up all the joinery.
- Most enjoyable project
Greenfield projects where clients have a clear vision you can associate with, such as the automated visa-kiosk for B-towns to avoid rush at cities. The punkah was a self starter which was adopted by Crompton fans, in response to many interior design requirements with elegant retro criteria. In terms of exciting new material application, the genset canopy using the rotomolding process opened new possibilities, while an indoor hydroponic system felt perfect for current times, bringing the art of growing food into mainstream consciousness.
- What are the critical steps in the design process
Brief assessment and user observation – Ideation and concepts – 3D CAD Aesthetic detailing – Physical mock-ups or part prototypes – Review and 3D CAD Techno-aesthetic detailing – Design drawings – Physical working prototype 1 – Review and documentation – Handover to client engineering and manufacturing team
- Does every project follow the steps of the design process
In principle it is best practice to do so, a user study and brief assessment can bring direction to the desired solution, for instance. It is possible that the client’s marketing team has already defined a segment that requires incremental aesthetic intervention on a well defined product, or has an internal R&D team ready to take on a less formed outcome, in which case shorter portions of the process can be adopted.
- What are the payment terms practiced
The clearer the brief the more accurate the design fee assessment. Payment is split into stages based on deliverables of the design process, starting with an advance which is a statement of intent. Physical mock ups and prototypes are treated as separate cost heads with a coordination fee attached, simply because this requires a different set of coordination skills. Daily charges or monthly retainerships are also possible if project outlines are not clear or a consultant/association is required.
- How does one ensure a successful design outcome
The best design emerges from a good brief, and 70% fails are because of an inaccurate brief. It does help to revisit and possibly re-articulate the brief with a quick user study from the designers perspective as they are trained to spot nuances often missed by mainstream criteria. It is also imperative to look at on ground experience of the designer hired, discuss criteria and motivation in cases of interest. Designers need not have worked in a clients particular sector, however an assessment of aesthetic sensibilities, experience with project handling, materials and processes provide a good foundation for hiring the same for a successful outcome.
- How do you judge good design
Successful design usually carries an inherent understanding of the target audience, it’s value to industry based on success rate across a large ( profitable ) demographic. More specifically to design speak, a successful design may have any shape or style, however needs coherence in its styling elements to convey its message correctly in the quickest possible way. Just like the most persuasive sentence employs economy of nuance and semantics to great effect, so too does the most persuasive design. Bad design can usually be called out with too many style elements, dissonance between style and function where one is overemphasized, ill fitting or unsafe ergonomics and often ( but not always the design fault ) bad finish.
- What is the difference between design and aesthetics
In common IT parlance today this is broadly UX ( user experience ) and UI ( user interface ), inseparable parts of the whole. A good design for an engineer is technically sound machinery, while for a designer it needs to go a step further and fit well with people’s behavioural patterns as well as be exciting to behold. Design needs socio-cultural sensitivity integrated with a sound technical base.
- Is good design always commercially successful
Not necessarily, there are numerous examples of excellent design ideas consigned to the dustbin of history. Design may be ‘ahead of its time’ as seen from Leornado Da Vinci’s visionary aeronautical sketches, or overlooked by ‘ corporate myopia’. An example of Xerox that saw itself as a copier company, failing to appreciate the brilliance of its R&D inventions of the computer mouse, user friendly graphic interface and micro-internet for communication. Steve Jobs reportedly noted this on one of his visits to the R&D and used this realization to the advantage of his further ventures. Design for ‘political ego’ is also fraught with danger of failure, an example of this is the immediate postwar ( Perón ) Argentine government attempting to design the Pulqui fighter jet, an expensive flagship exercise which failed due to lack of logistical support. While concept and inspiration are individual quirks, successful design is a team sport with many players. Maturity on all levels definitely bolster success, weakness in more than one layer can collapse even the best products.