Friday, June 27, 2014

Design Education

If you ever studied, did reading for lectures, did any kind of case study, then you have had to read a lot of useless junk. Things that were designated to be useful, but end up going into your head and being pushed out by the next paragraph; or end up being recited very loudly with a pint in hand.

This can be linked to the education many of us must go through to achieve certain status in this world. So that we can be recognized for the jobs that this ever changing world provides.

When obtaining my Bachelor is Product Innovation, I was forced to read a lot of crap. There were readings each week that were often unrelated to the lectures. Nevertheless, much paper was wasted.

Back in the old days, if you wanted to make things (be a designer) or work in a factory, you just went to the factory under your parents instruction and became an apprentice. Over the years you would build up your skills and learn the tricks of the trade until you're either injured from repetitive a stress injury or die from the fumes/industrial revolution smog. But people found a problem with that. With so many people doing the same thing all over the world, there were bound to be differences; most factoring from available resources, technological progress, financial situation etc etc etc.

 Nowadays, there are still massive differences. Even though we still do all that 'old stuff', there are a whole range of issues that must be taken into account; issues such as cultural, political and social topics. Design schools across the world are teaching methods of design that vary greatly from one another, each claiming to be more beneficial than the other. To a large extent this is valid, but for the few that are lacking, this simply can't be tolerated.

Their argument stems from the problem that many designers as well as other disciplines face as we all attempt to embrace the fact that no one is ever one 'job title'; it's simply too expensive.

Designing today is never just the basic design process where a designer must employ their knowledge of form, function, materials, processes and manufacturing to reach a goal, they must employ a plethora of widely poorly taught skills. To achieve 'good design' one must follow these 10 statements.  

The list was populated by the accomplished 'Industrial Designer' Dieter Rams who outlined that we as designers are not the fine artists that we are often confused with. We also know a lot about people, their behaviors and how they react to certain stimuli. Here lies the problem with design education. Many schools of design are simply not teaching their pupils about people, their behaviors and how to emotionally connect with a person through a product. Without a deep understanding of people, can a 'true' Industrial Designer emerge.

This same argument, to some extent can apply to engineers. (Not speaking from experience) They are taught in a more scientific, mathematical world where problems can be solved by doing enough math. I'm not saying they are taught to be robots, but they are deprived of the knowledge they are often required to utilize when applying their knowledge in this world. Knowledge such as behavioral and cognitive sciences that can provide perspective to make more informed decisions about what they're making. 

Now I know it's a lot easier to complain than fix a problem, but it had to be said. Designers and engineers alike are required to do things out of their depth. Not by their fault; but by the various institutions that provide 'knowledge' and certifications. Their argument would be to come back and study said topics, but of course this isn't a viable option for all.

Design education needs to change if we want to eliminate poor design and poor engineering from this world. In my position today in China, it has never been more urgent.

Friday, June 13, 2014

PayPal Card Reader

All hail the consumer's best online friend Paypal!

Now I know I'm a little late to the party; two years to be exact. But when a clever idea such as this comes across my view, I must share it. I am surprised I only just came across it, maybe it hasn't been as successful as hoped, or maybe I'm just a little slow.

Introducing Paypal's portable credit card reader which allows merchants of any interest to charge peop
This snazzy little gadget comes with a free app, in sync with an integrated thumb-sized card reader to turn any average Joe into a business hero. You can also set up a live connection using QR codes as well as manually entering the card info into the app. Sounds pretty good, but they charge a 'competitive' rate of 2.7% for every card swipe. le for their goods and services.

PayPal card reader is available by online order for iPhone and Android.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mindsparkz June Promo: Product Sketch Presentation

Initial ideas are,in most cases, the root to all leading developments and final ideas. This is why it is vital that in some form of way, either scribbled or constructively sketched, they are put onto paper for future use and revisions.  To draw is to think, to sketch is to create. Sketching leads to physical product creation.

Wether the idea has been drawn in pen,pencil, chalk or even coffee stains, the idea is not only a visual concept, it displays the raw thinking process and initial idea that came into the head, expressing what your first intent of the design was, to which can be built upon and developed.

Sketching allows your creativity to expand and broadens your visions and imagination. What someone may visualize in their head could be completely different to how someone else sees it in their own mind. Which is why it is vital to illustrate the idea physically so everybody can view, process and understand the idea in the same way as the creator visualized it.

Have you ever had a concept in your head yourself, but no way to illustrate it?

Here at Mindsparkz, we've decided to put ourselves out there and offer you our services for a discounted and limited time. We are offering, for June only, a dedicated session with our team of designers to sketch-up your creative ideas.  We'll translate your thoughts into real concepts and bounce ideas around and present it under your personal branding in a presentation.

Sleek alcoholic beverage utensil

Creating the perfect fusion between traditional and modern design can deliver a fantastic final product design, especially when combining a mixture of classic materials and forms with modern day minimalist aesthetics.
This week I stumbled across a very simple but smart household item built to contain BaiJiu, a traditional and very popular Chinese alcoholic beverage.  Made delicately from smooth Chinese porcelain ceramic and crystal clear glass, the beverage flask/container is the perfect item for yourself or a gathering of friends and family to enjoy. So what is so special about this flask?

The product is made up entirely of 3 components- a ceramic base, middle body and glass top stored, but the special thing about this container is that it has a function allowing you to heat up the stored beverage if one chooses to consume the drink warm, rather than cold. How does this work? The middle body part is filled partially with water and placed on top of the base part, which has a platform for a small candle to be fitted, allowing heat to rise and eventually heating up the contained water. Once heated to a certain temperature, Bai Jiu or a chosen beverage can be poured into the glass tube of which can then be allocated inside the middle body part, resulting in a warmed up drink.

This is a great example of traditional material selection and classic raw material usage in order to heat up a liquid. The choice of ceramic can be subtly heated, but not burnt, by taking advantage of the flame in the lower partition of the device, proving that you not need excess electronic components in order to produce such functions, but purely the use of classic raw materials.

In terms of form, the flask has a minimal but elegant visual appearance, consisting purely of smooth spherical shapes and crispy, clean curves. Whilst this helps to promote an elegant aesthetic, it also supports the function of heating the alcohol as heat can travel around inside the entire container. Furthermore, this assists with the handling of water when serving the drink, providing a smooth pour. Rather than applying added surface decoration and artificial finishing, the flask has been left in its raw material state (With a slight varnish for ceramic protection) which really gives off an organic and crisp feel for the product, contrasting with the modern way it has be manufactured.

Rather than the traditional hand crafted way in which you would have expected the product to be made, a more technical /high-end approach has been applied, to deliver precise curves, cut-outs, smooth edges and overall accuracy. Methods such as machine blow moulding have been used to produce the glass beverage container, whilst machinery has also been used to create ventilation cut outs in the base for smoke to fumigate.

From assessing this product we can evaluate that a mixture of traditional materials can really work well with modern minimal forms to produce sleek, elegant aesthetics, whilst maintaining the raw/organic visuals and providing a fully functional device.

Creating New Products this Christmas

Christmas is coming! This season is filled with love, joy and most importantly, gifts! During this period of time, our designers begin desig...