You are a talented designer living an independent life, go to concerts, parties, perhaps starting to make concrete plans for your life and then you wonder how can your designs stand out in today’s context? How can your concepts become solutions that help solve today’s urban challenges? How do you come up with ideas for the future base on today’s living? What does the role of art play these days and how can you succeed in this highly competitive society? How do you become the Designer of the Future?
The job of a designer has matured from just being a creative, artistic undertaking to a field tasked with solving tricky societal issues. Design has become an essential ingredient in an evolution that will accelerate as companies enlist designers to solve and identify solutions for increasingly complex concerns that affect everyday living – from self-driving cars to gadgets such as a universal remote control that can command just about any device. It will become a profession that will continue to evolve into a hybrid industry that is considered as much technical as it is creative. Especially so for industrial and mechanical designers who have the best knowledge of both worlds – art and materials. It is foreseen that a new wave of designers formally educated in human-centered design—taught to weave together research, interaction and materials to solve new age problems—will move into leadership positions. They will push the industry to new heights of sophistication.
So how can we be better prepared to become the designer of the future? Here are some tips that can help you position yourself and your role better.
Single, family or Silver? Or someone else?
It is important to identify which target group your design solution is for. The ideas generated for a family are different for those that are single as compared to those in the silver generation. Or, if you are targeting the youth, your ideas and concept will have to be something edgy yet useful.
Spend time with your target group
Ideally, you should spend time with your target group. What you can uncover from them can be surprising and inspiring. Especially for a group that you cannot relate to. E.g. When you talk to parents or children, you will discover challenges that never really came across your mind. Apart from talking to them, you need to imagine and envision what it was like when you are a child and how that challenge was a huge issue to you. The key is to talk , observe and interact with them.
Try to find out the “why” behind those inspirations
While interacting with your target group, you will ultimately find out what the underlying motivation is to resolve those challenges. This is crucial as your ideas will serve as solutions to them. Start by trying to make the collaboration informal and create a comfortable atmosphere for them to open up to you. Ask open-ended questions that set their minds thinking such as “why is that important to you?”, “why do you feel that way?”, “what makes you say that?” This conversational tactic can be very helpful in finding out people’s real needs and hopes.
Learn to listen and observe
Many times, one’s body language tend to expose how he/she is exactly thinking/feeling without them realising it. Safety, for example, is important to most parents and children taking care of their older folks, but many can encounter challenges in finding straightforward real life solutions to address this need in their everyday lives. Whereas for a young bachelor, convenience and simplicity might be the key to enhance his lifestyle. By examining people’s behaviour, you might discover lots of useful information, and this can lead to good design inspiration!
Collaborate with material experts and companies
It is noticed that there is an increased emphasis on using diverse materials throughout the work environment to create surroundings that improve wellbeing and productivity. Products made with a rich variety of materials provide designers with the opportunity to be original and bold—to use colour and texture to create a more inspiring and personalized work environment. This could trigger off that creative gene in you.
Still stuck and not sure what design concepts can be used to solve urban living? Push yourself to the limit and participate in as many industrial design competitions as possible.
Become a Designer of the Future
Get inspired by the winners for 2015’s BASF design challenge – “Materials Today, Innovations Tomorrow”. Alex Zhe (pictured), was the winner, and his electronics packaging concept exploited BASF’s high-performance materials. These materials meet the market’s growing demand for products with lightweight features and new functions. Read more about the winning design here.
Coincidentally, BASF is organizing their 2016 design competition – Design it. Love it. Live it. Click to find out more about this year’s competition. Before submitting, remember also to read the brief.
At the end of the day, it’s important to keep a balance of the ‘what and how’ when developing design concepts and you need to know what you are looking for in order to come up with an inspiring design, but it’s also good to know how to develop an environment that supports trust in society with the design. Sometimes going back to basics may be just what you need to succeed and become the next rising mechanical designer of the future.
Just remember, innovation and functionality are both important factors. Design companies and leaders are looking out for exactly this from a Designer of the Future.