With a product concept in mind, business owners should seeking out an industrial designer to help create it. What should you expect on their side of the process?
Robert Tiller, an industrial designer and the CEO of Tiller Designs, says the first step is to determine whether the idea has the potential to be successful.
“[The] first step is to go through that distillation of, ‘Is this a nuts idea?’ or ‘What is the true potential?’,” he says.
“We have a very basic filter and if the idea is solid and we feel like it needs proper research, we'll then step into a more formal structure than the initial filtering process, if you like.”
Following this, industrial designers undertake research and development (R&D) to assess the feasibility of the concept.
“You get the pre-work, which we call feasibility, [then] R&D, and that will be the science: ‘Can you actually make this chemistry do what you want it to do?’,” Robert says.
“Then it will switch to design and development, which is, ‘OK, we've proved the chemistry works, now let's put it into something a human can interact with’. There's a big blurry line between R&D and design.”
After the R&D and design processes, the industrial designer goes back to the client to see whether they believe the product is acceptable for prototyping and manufacturing.
“Quite often they're not, so we push them back into design and R&D or we push them back into feasibility or proof of concept,” says Robert.
Robert is quick to point out that expectations need to be set at a certain level, as not every product can end up looking as sleek and stylish as high-end products such as those created by Apple, which champions “integrating design into every mortal step they take”, according to Robert.
“[The design process is] countered by capacity and resources. Not everybody can be Apple. It's great to aspire there. We practise this philosophy: ‘You don't have to make things acutely expensive to have high quality’,” he says.