Product design often strikes like a lightning bolt. In the middle of the night—or a tennis match, or filling up a gas tank—a designer can simply be struck with a crazy new idea. And before you know it, people are lining up to buy a widget or a service that they didn’t even known they needed.
Where Product Design Begins
Innovative product design often has a great story behind it. Take, for example, the C-1, which is the brainchild of Danny Kim, founder of Lit Motors. The C-1 is kind of like a motorcycle with a ‘shell’ or a ‘bubble’ around it. The inspiration for this vehicle came to Kim when he was almost crushed by a chassis while he was underneath a bio-diesel Land Rover. The C-1 was Kim’s response to what he feels is a massive waste in the car industry.
Steve Jobs created the Macintosh computer with beauty in mind—inspired largely by Trappist Monk, Robert Palladino, who was Jobs’ calligraphy professor at Reed College. “Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country,” Jobs said in his Stanford 2005 graduation speech. “Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand-calligraphed…I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture.”
Jobs’ visceral response to these pen and ink letters inspired him to think in a new way about creating a technology product, which is often designed more for function than beauty.
Take a look at the everyday products in this infographic. We’re so used to them, we hardly appreciate their unique product design anymore. But did we really need a slinky? Or a Frisbee? (OK. Maybe we did need those flip-flops.)
From Wallcoverings to Surface Skins
We understand inspired product design here at Lehrmitt Design Studios. We’ve been designing wallcoverings for almost two decades, and ideas can strike at any time.
Everywhere we look, we see design.
For us, creating textured surfaces on wallcoverings inspired a natural leap to creating textured surfaces on other things. And we figured that if we could use 3D printing to create peaks and valleys, rivers and leaves on wallcoverings, why not do that with other products, too?
It occurred to us that the technique we had developed to create esthetic designs on wallcoverings could also work on other types of surfaces. Like cell phone covers, make-up compacts, game consoles—even chocolates.
It turns out we were right. After a lot of false starts, we developed a technique for wrapping consumer products with tactile, textured surfaces. The process of getting there wasn’t quick, but the payoff is that we have perfected a way to convert 2D textured surface designs into 3D files—and wrap them around different types of products.
And thus, Surface Skins™ were born.
The process is interesting to see onscreen. The skin is literally wrapped around the product. (Think shrink-wrap.) Onscreen, you get a clear picture of what it will look like when it prints, which opens up new ways to develop unique products with textured surface designs — like alligator, carved granite or lace.
Do we need tactile, textured surfaces on stuff? We think so. As designers, we know that good product design is often about making the world we live in a more beautiful place to be, which counts for a lot.
Mary Follin -Lehrmitt Associates Marketing
Leave a comment. Tell us about your inspired designs.