In spirit of the recently announced New Balance x CounterKicks Design Competition I have decided to write my “Ten Design Commandments.” These commandments have become a part of a belief system and I do my best to practice as I design. I only hope that it will help the contestants in the competition go further with their designs. It should be important to note that these commandments are not just for the shoe industry; they can be transitioned into any form of design. Continue reading Design Insight With Brett Golliff: The Ten Design Commandments…
Follow these rules and you will have mad bread to break up.
P.S. you should probably be listening to Biggie’s “10 Crack Commandments” while you read this.
1. Know Your Consumer
Knowing your consumer, is knowing more about them then they know about themselves. If you are designing a running shoe you better know every part of that consumer’s life because it will lead to crucial elements that can make or break your product. For instance: How often do they run? What distance? Do they run for recreation? Do they run competitively? Where do they run? What shoes do they run in? A small example of questions you need to know just to start a project. Without these questions being answered you could end up venturing down the wrong path and completely miss the intended consumer. Which in return means you just wasted 18 months of time and another company is going to come in and fill that hole while you wait 18 months for another shot.
2. Know The Brief
To start a project you are given a brief of what type of product you are designing. It is essential to know that brief as well as, if not better than, the person who created it knows it. The brief provides all the answers to what the product should be and if it is a good one it will almost design itself. It is important to not venture off the brief because you are then providing a product that could be full of more questions then it has answers. But do realize that sometimes briefs are wrong, people are human and sometimes things need to be cleared out and only then is it correct to take a project down a different path but you better have all areas covered when you do this.
After you know your consumer and know your brief it is time to get inspired. There is no one-way to pin point where to get inspiration; it surrounds you. But it is important to make sure your inspiration aligns with the brief and consumer. Inspiration should take you down a path that is less traveled and should challenge you to create something that is new and fresh, not something that is played out and just adds another useless product to the world.
4. Create A Story (I know you heard this before)
Take your inspiration, your knowledge of the brief and consumer and tell a story that fits within them. The story should be a representation of aesthetic direction and performance solutions. The story is an integral part of the design process because without it you as a designer will have nothing to relate back to during your creation process. You will also have nothing for people to grasp on to when trying to understand where you are taking the project. The story will also help out your team when trying to justify why they need this product. When the Sales Representatives go out on the road to sell your design to retailers, they need to give a reason to the accounts to take the product. Your story will be huge part of why or why not to sell it. So make sure it is an original and thought provoking solution.
Realize that what you are selling should capture an emotion. Products are not always used for their intended purpose (in shoes they are rarely used for their intended purpose), how you get the consumer excited to buy that product is to evoke an emotion in them. It is better to have someone love or hate the product. You never want them to feel indifferent to it because then it does not exist to them, they will not even remember it. If they love it they will purchase it and if they hate it they will talk it about it, both are good things. You can use color, material, form, graphics, texture, and etcetera to create an emotion. It is on you as a designer to make the consumer feel something, so be creative.
One of the most basic ways to screw up a product is with proportion. However, it is one of the hardest things to describe. The way I look at a product is that it has to have a hierarchy of interest. It should balance form, graphic and color in an aesthetically pleasing way. If one of those elements is unbalanced it throws the proportion of the product off. It could look too long, too short, too fat, too anything is too bad because it gives the consumer a reason not to buy.
7. Color (This rule is so underrated)
Color is the single most important reason consumers do or do not buy a product. It is vital your color choices not only capture an emotion, along with an element of the story you created but also meet the expectations of the consumer you are targeting. You probably will not see a Black & Decker power tool come out in magenta, why? Because that is not what their consumer wants. Their consumer wants a product that just functions; it is not a fashion statement it is merely a means for them to get the job done. Color should be an expression of what the product is and should merchandise well with the rest of the company’s current product offerings. If done properly, color can transcend a product into an emotion for the user where they feel they can use the product for multiple functions and occasions.
8. Brand Identity
I was once told that you have to know where you came from to know where you are going. If your project does not have a sense of history it simply has no sense. You have to make sure your product fits in with the culture of the company you are designing for. It is safe to say that you will not see a supercar from Jeep. Jeep is a rugged off-road vehicle, not a vehicle that is meant to take sharp corners, is low to the ground and goes 250 miles per hour. Make sure that what you are designing aligns with the current mission statement of the company and fits the needs of their consumer.
This can be interpreted in many ways but I have narrowed it down to two things. One, your product should be confident. It should make a statement and be bold in its intended mission. If it is a conservative product, make sure that it is confidently conservative. If it is a bold, trend-setting product, make sure that it is over confident in its look. Two, you as a designer have to be confident in what you are presenting. You did all the research, all the form development and are sharing with the world your passion. Make sure that you come across confident in what you are presenting.
10. Love (Could have been number one)
You have to love the project and what you are creating. If you do not love it and are not proud of it there is no way in hell anyone else will be. The way I look at my designs is if I would not wear them then why would anyone else want to? Be excited you are creating a product that people are going to spend their hard earned money on. They do not have to do that. Do not take it for granted.
Brett Golliff is a Designer 1 at New Balance.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Design Insight: The 10 Design Commandments