Develop ideas and descriptions for several new consumer products that are legitimate enough to be produced and promoted but are certain to fail miserably in the marketplace. Examples:
• Inflatable dartboard
• Silicone hip implants
• Fire alarm with snooze bar
• Nuclear hand grenades
• Jarvik-7 artificial appendix
• Salted bandages
• Dyslexics edition of Scrabble
• Mobius strip toilet paper
• Lobster Helper
• Pocket Wasp & Hornet Teaser
• Spray on mildew
• Flavored ear drops
• Hookless fishing lures
Inventing a new product
Creative people see in new ways. George Bernard Shaw once said something like,
Some people see things as they are and ask: Why?
Creative people see things as they could be and ask: Why not?
Designers (creative problem solvers) see connections that didn’t previously exist, transfer information from one problem to another, see possibilities that are not immediately obvious, and are constantly honing their analytical ability to solve problems. Though we are all bothered by the little annoyances caused by products or systems that we know could be done better, designers are the ones who respond with “there must be a better way”. They then set out to find such a solution, sometimes just in their own minds and sometimes for actual production.
Good designers are constantly redesigning their environment. They hone their problem solving skills by practicing, often subconsciously, the process of design wherever and whenever they seek problems. And great designers do seek problems - they don't just wait for them to present themselves. Sam Walton strove to make something better every day. Henry Beck scratched the itch by redesigning the diagram for the London subway system. Great designers have passion about problem solving and they have the courage to do something about it.
Sometime recently you were probably somewhere and felt a bit uncomfortable about the design solution to a product or process. That itch should be slightly annoying. Your more sophisticated sense of aesthetics, sequential order, and efficient communication of information sets you apart from non-designers. This project allows you to practice your creative problem solving skills by responding to the designer's curse: that desire to make things better, find a better answer, or produce a better solution.
Analyze the itches that bother your sense of design, practicality, and convenience (if there are none, practice being more analytical and more aware of products and systems that could be done better). Create a new product (or products) or develop a new system that satisfies a need in the marketplace, makes something better, and benefits a segment of society. The product or system must be original/novel and practical/useful. If it is not original then it is not a way to make something better. If it is not practical then it will be too hard to promote in the marketplace. Use the worksheet as a guide: conduct background assessment, develop the product or system, and formulate a promotion and marketing plan.
The Design Process
Assessment: recall where the itch last struck or now be aware of when the itch strikes. Visit the object or place: store, restaurant, office, school, etc. Analyze the current situation. Determine the specific design problem. What objectives were achieved (or should have been). What are the primary and secondary target markets.
Feed/input: learn about the situation and the place: observe the users, take notes, and conduct research. Assess all aspects of the problem: materials used, arrangement of elements, information communication, interior use of space, architecture, traffic flow, etc.
Incubation: let your mind explore, create, and solve.
Retrieve/output: sketches, ideas, brainstorming, concepts, roughs, design decisions, compromises, fine tuning, and final decisions.
Presentation: make a presentation board that includes a critique of the existing design(why does it not work?) and recommendations to make it work better. Be thorough and specific. You may use maps, charts, photos, renderings, models, or anything else that will help communicate clearly your improved solution.
All specs are open: do whatever it takes to clearly and appropriately communicate your improved design solution of a new consumer product or system.
• Thorough critique of a consumer item or system.
• Valid, thorough, and specific recommendations to make the design more successful.
• Effective, useful and innovative solutions explored, clearly communicated, and presented.
• Presentation materials neatly executed and presented.
• All deadlines met.
• Experience and enjoy the designer’s curse.
• Practice scratching the itch.
• Become more aware of the environment.
• Objectively critique design quality and execution.
• Develop the courage to feel comfortable reworking someone else's design solutions.
• Work through the steps of creating a product: assessment, research, sketches, concept, and comp.
• Practice communicating a concept and solution with clarity and ease of comprehension.
• Grow as a problem seeker and problem solver.
El Lissitzsky’s equation for design
Problem, Invention, Art