The Design Process
Getting Started : PeopleInventive Design is Focused Creativity!
Be it for a System, a construction, or artifacts; Inventive Design starts with asking pertinent questions:
Concept ---> Development ---> Commissioning
There is however a stage, often unrecognised, that precedes this:
Approach ---> Concept ---> Development ---> Commissioning
What we mean by 'Approach' is the fundamental attitude, or way the designer has of seeing things. Design often seams to be some sort of compromise between the two poles of 'Form' and 'Function'.
'Form', meaning the style or aesthetics of the design, and getting towards the territory of the 'Industrial Designer'. While 'Function' concerns the practicalities of manufacture, use, service and repair, and more towards the domain of the 'Draftsman'.
Here at Jameela Designs.co.uk we have a different approach;
'People Centred Design'
Still paying great attention to both Form and Function, but 'people' are what the 'design' is all for!
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For example; Our involvement with Solar Power first started when I was working abroad in the Middle-East, and was about sourcing a free supply of energy to drive irrigation pumps and machinery for the remote village people there.
Upon returning to the UK, a thorough investigation was made into the current 'Solar Power' options available, but then I started to notice something in the literature that I had a problem with; the inappropriateness of the basic design objectives:-
Unlike petrol or diesel engines, this sort of efficiency doesn't necessarily have any relation to the cost-effectiveness of the system! Current Design Objectives in solar power therefore tend to aim at minimising specific cost;-
This is fine if the end user is purchasing in £ or $, or for foreign aid charity gifts, but hard currency is extremely expensive for the arid third world farmer: it is still "technocentric" !
The greater the proportion of the system actually designed to be made in the end user's own country, the more affordable the device becomes!
The consequence of this is that turnover will rise, bringing its own mass production savings and further purchase price reductions. We envisage that designing for a high proportion of the solar device to be made abroad, will actually increase our business rather than reduce it!
A maxim might be:
100% of a thousand units|
10% of a million units!
The latter involves some hundred times more business! This approach can be summarised by a new Design Objective:|
This profound Design Objective setoff a completely original course for our work in Solar Power;
People Centred Design!
Rational thought is needed to focus the mind onto the precise problem in question, with all its needs, constraints and implications. However, the designer has then got to switch hats and enter a creative frame of mind, like that of an Artist. I can describe it as being very relaxed while being very awake at the same time. Creative thought though, has no direction to it! the mind just jumps in any direction making its connections.
Now the designer must change hats back again and revert to Rational mode of thought, to accept the parts of the creative inspiration that are useful, and re-focus the mind again in the right direction. With many alternations like this, a completely original design scheme or option is moved forward step by step. With practice, the mind can be made to alternate between the Rational and Creative modes of thought faster and faster. On a good day! I can sometimes manage this in about 20 minutes each. It feels most weird, almost like being two completely different people with opposing characters!
To assist ones creativity, there are a number of techniques;
It is most important to be completely non-judgemental as this impedes creativity, ideas that at first may seem far-fetched must not be dismissed too early, as they can lead to our solution. Sometimes hybrid ideas emerge out of these different design schemes or options, which evolve into very practicable designs.
Design ideas, schemes or possible options now need to be developed somewhat, in order to see their potential or failings. This must be done with all the contending design ideas, including those that will later be dismissed, for at the moment we don't know which is the best! This is done by;
Assessment of optionsNow that a number of design options have been created, and each one has had some development work done upon it, the best option needs to be selected for further development into the finished design.
There are many criteria to the selection process, and each criterion has varying degrees of importance depending upon the nature of the project, for example:
Now as each criterion has varying degrees of importance, they must be 'ranked' for the project in question. We normally use a scale of 1 to 10.
The Designer now has to assess each design option for each criterion and give a score, again we us 1 to 10. The score is then multiplied by its ranking (or weighting).
For example, if we set the ranking for 'Production Cost' as 7, and a particular design option only scored 5 with this criterion, its assessment value would be:
7 x 5 = 35
This is done for all the design options against all the chosen criterion to build up a table, (Microsoft Excel is very useful here). The multiplied assessment values are summed for each design option to reveal the winner. However, in the course of this exercise, hybrid designs can often emerge taking the best features of different design options!
In this example table, Design Option C is assessed as best, this would then be developed into a finished design. The rigor that is applied to the assessment process depends upon what is at stake, it could be simplified down to almost a mental exercise with a note book, for example over some detail design of one part. If the decision is very critical however, great care and sophistication needs to be taken in choosing appropriate values for the Criterion Ranking and Design Option Scores:
Develop the Old or Create NewWhen as many design options as possible have been created and explored, fundamental opportunities may well arise requiring a collaborative decision combining great skill and foresight: The existing "designs" could be developed and refined, or something completely new may be given the go-ahead.
Good design requires a knowledge of:
Putting together: Just how much confidence we have in our new design proposal, The current state of the market, What the competition are producing, and the production position, the "Develop the Old or Create New" decision needs to be taken. The timing of when to jump forward with a new inventive design, rather than steady development, will have major consequences for a business! i.e. Quantum Leap Solutions
Intellectual PropertyDesigns are progressed to the stage of a set of detail and assembly drawings, even though 3D-CAD files can be used directly by some CNC production tooling, having the human interface of a 2D drawing is very reassuring! Note: 2D drawings can be automatically produced by the 3D-CAD system, needing only hand re-arrangement of dimensions and annotations
Here at Jameela Designs.co.uk we mostly use the convenient A3 size printouts, and for security reasons, post them through the Royal Mail. The drawings may also be sent as e-mail attachments, either as CAD files or in PDF format, but security of the finished work is very much a concern.
Designs are intellectual property, and this may well need to be protected. This can be a very expensive activity, but might be essential for investors to take a project on. There are however, a few negative points to intellectual property protection:
With Patents, you tell the whole world the intricacies of your invention in its (published) description. If somebody has got a patent on their design, then don't let them tell you it is secret, just go along to your local patent library and look it up under their name or its title!
The Patent Office doesn't 'police' your intellectual property for you, if somebody copies your idea, then you have got to take him or her to court and sue them yourself. If you have foreign or international patents, you would have to do this in the offending party's own country with translators and all the costs!
It only takes a surprisingly small difference to an existing patent, (your patent!) in order to get another patent.
Professional Patent Agents are there to help, but expensive, also Patent Insurance is available, but yet another cost. Until you are ready to, and have filed a patent application, KEEP YOUR IDEAS SECRET, only reveal to anyone with a written confidentiality agreement.
'Registered Design' concerns the artistic style of an article that is in production, ie. not for one-offs or prototypes.
'Copyright' on the drawings is potentially a very effective low cost tool, but you must be able to prove the date of the drawings existence, for example by depositing a copy in a bank vault, and having the bank officially date-stamp and seal it. You would still need to insure against the costs of suing any offending party though.
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