Tuesday 29 November 2011

Prototypes (and how not to polish a turd)

As designers and brand strategists, we are constantly working with ideas, toying with visual metaphors and facilitating greater knowledge sharing through new technology.

During the initial stages of a design project, our design team will adopt the use of a prototype of one sort or another. Since Minale Tattersfield works across 2D and 3D design, there are a number of different routes and tools available to us in prototype methodology, but usually it is helpful, when I am involved, to scribble some thoughts, and conceptualise an idea, the old analogue ways are often the best.

Caspian lube sketches

For complex projects, our designers might produce more detailed concept drawings, or transfer to more technologically-driven prototyping tools.

Caspian lube concept designs

Detailed cross sectional prototype

This is especially the case with our work across 3D design where we might adopt solid modelling and visualisation tools; if the budget allows, we might opt for a life-sized prototype, this is often helpful to get the client on board and involved at an earlier stage.

Making a life-sized prototype mould

Sometimes I will confer with the client for feedback using a design prototype to clarify some aspect of the proposal.

It is so easy these days to allow right-brain thinking to take over because of all the technology at our disposal. Sometimes we need to get back to basics, allow creative stimulation and a more balanced workflow. I believe in sharing information early on in a project to allow our teams to assess the problems from different angles and pool together their cross functional knowledge. Design teams need to communicate like never before to produce excellent work, and never compromise on the exchange of ideas and opinions.

Prototype designs that offer too much too early on can stymie progress or worse negate a successful design outcome. I've witnessed this before, and have seen the conflict and resentment when ideas have been integrated too quickly into a prototype model.

Our motto is always to explore the problems our products needs to solve before jumping in bed with solutions.

by Marcello Mario Minale

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