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What’s ‘LIVE’ and Ongoing in this blog now:
1) Pictorial Idea Generation and Development [last update 28 July 2017]
2) Beefing up Student's Work - Tackling Common Mistakes [last update 7 July 2017]
3) Phone Holder – Drawing Ideas & Grid Method [last update 14 July 2017]

Disclaimer: All information posted in this blog are original unless otherwise stated and remains valid for as long as I have not yet thought of a better way to present them. They are not meant to be prescriptive and used rigidly without forethought.
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24 April 2012

Idea Generation - Focusing on Alternative Functionality

Here is a simplified presentation on how I meant in class when I say,

"Generate ideas focused on the functions first. i.e. think and sketch different ways to make it work. Make use of your list of design specifications that mentions functions. Generate alternative ideas. Assess them. Evaluate them. Combine, modify and improve the ideas that you have. Do a quick mock-up and test out your ideas. A certain point of time, draw the hand in; draw the target user in. Remember to draw your more or less refined idea to be used in context to get a feel of how it may work. Use various drawing techniques to present your ideas. Annotate them to communicate how the idea is intended to work, etc.".

The example above shows you only two alternatives to secure cables to a table. The first one was in fact... well... literally my first thought of using a little blob of blu-tack to simply 'stick' the cable to the table. That was nevertheless an idea wasn't that? Then later what seems like a 'hook' idea came to mind and you have on the right side sketches of how a 'hook' may be used to secure the cable. You should notice that in all cases I sketched in a cable. 

Continue in a clockwise fashion, you notice some development going on. I have started to stretch the hook and make it slightly longer so that now I can secure up to three cables. Addition features at the ends of the hook to provide stability, etc.

At the bottom, assuming the idea was sort of developed, I began taking a step back and sketch in hands interacting with the hook cable securing idea. Sketching the hands in is a good way to visualize and appreciate how large (or small) the product may be. Good for sizing at the later stages. Good also if I decided to disappear in the workshop for a mock-up or two cause I have a good idea on its possible size and the diameter just by looking at my sketch. I could have further modified the hook's diameter and lengths so that it looks more proportionate or asymmetrical or 'balanced'. 

So you see, the idea generation process is very lively. Its very free. It doesn't condemn a bad idea. In fact there is no bad idea. If an idea doesn't look good, it can always be modified so that it works.

Notice also that every proposed idea is extended via presenting them with a) additional perspectives and b) human interaction to show success of functionality and usability, i.e. shown being viewed in different angles and using multiple drawing techniques, e.g. a combination of 2D and 3D drawings and exploded views when necessary. 

This important step serves two purposes: 
  1. It helps to present the proposed solution clearly by helping the designer (and the reader) 'see' the solution in an all rounded manner. And
  2. Because the proposed solution is shown sufficiently in as many views as necessary, any problems or 'faults' can be easily picked up and that enables the designer to make effective improvements or propose alternative solutions to make it better.
(Included and updated on 28 August 2013)

One common problem in a student's attempt in idea generation is to sketch an idea. Somehow it either looked funny or will not work. Then make a comment that it doesn't work. Then move on to another entirely different idea. That is not the way to work with ideas. 

You just killed one potential idea that could have been modified and developed so that it will now work instead of abandoning it.

The second example above show another idea generation starter. This time is an attempt to start generating ideas on the different ways to connect individual photo frames vertically and how they can be detached and add on easily. Not much detailing but you do see some development going on. For example you may see some details on how a magnet may be fixed into a 'cap' like structure for the magnetic connection idea. This is sometimes necessary because I would need have a 'feel' how how that might work. And one way to do that is to sketch them in exploded views and 'visualize' how each parts interact.

If I chose this concept for refinement or development, then I will move on to generate better ideas that works, decide on materials and making methods, etc.

(First edition of this post on 24 Arpil 2013)
(Second edition on 20 August 2013)

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