1

Why does your soap dish look the way it looks? And why do you hold a spoon the way you do? You probably wouldn’t have lost any sleep over these questions, not even when these everyday objects doesn’t work right!

E veryday products, they are so numerous and ubiquitous. They form the material framework of our existence, enabling it to function, not only in practical or utilitarian terms but also in ways that give pleasure, meaning and significance to our lives. But why don’t we notice them? Most of us travel by the same route every day, do similar tasks every day, go to same places and although we are awake and seeing things around us we are not actually looking at them consciously. Hence, such products are frequently taken for granted.

Design, to my understanding, is much about having an eye for such details and bringing back life to mundane objects. I would like to emphasize on the act of “Observation” as a necessary tool to design useful products.

 

For quite sometime now I have been deeply intrigued by the everyday mundane objects lying all around us. The market is flooded with a plethora of redesigned products but very few redefined objects.

When one re-designs a product, one tends to retain the essence of it’s being…the soul. However gives its body a complete make over…without even hitting on the mind. When we re-define, as the word itself suggests, we work on the soul of the product, we question its very existence. Thus, giving the product a new mind and a fresh body.

 

A beautiful body is as important as a beautiful mind. An aesthetically balanced product drives the customer close to itself. “Form-material” relation is one of the demanding parameters of a good-looking product. It makes it desirable. Color adds the oomph factor!

Mind is that aspect of the product, which interacts with the user/customer. Sometime it directs the user to handle the product in a particular way and sometime it doesn’t.

Soul is the essence of its being, its purpose, satisfying the user’s wants/needs.

It brings about the WOW! Factor. A good product is which is a perfect balance of BODY – MIND – SOUL.

Tips to design Everyday Objects


Step 01

Empathise

The first step is to gain an empathic understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. This involves observing, engaging and empathizing with people as well as immersing yourself in the physical environment to have a deeper personal understanding of the issues involved. Empathy is crucial to a human-centred design process and it allows designers to set aside their own assumptions in order to gain insight into the user’s mind.

 

Let us take the example of a regular multipin electric plug.

We all use them probably everyday at our office, home and even while in transit. It is such a mundane object that we do not even notice it most often. However, I am sure you would have sometime felt if the product could be improved. As a designer of everyday objects, I took this opportunity to elevate the experience of using a multi-plug.

 

The pain point I identified with was that the pins of a 2 pin plug get loose and tend to fall off when plugged into the multi-pin electric plug, causing sudden switching off of any gadget in use.

Step 02

Define

Next step is to analyse your observations and synthesis the pain points in order to define the core problem that you seek to solve. In my project, the exact problem was that the regular multi-pin electric plug had a flat bottom and there was nothing to stop the loose 2 pin plug from falling off due to gravity.

Step 03

Ideate

At this stage, we generate a lot of ideas. No idea is good or bad. I had this idea that by slanting the bottom side of the regular multi-pin electric plug the loose 2 pin plug might get self-locked due to gravity. My idea was to capitalise on the root cause of the problem to create the solution. Gravity caused the plug to fall off, now gravity will help it stop.

Step 04

Prototype

There is no shortcut to success. It’s time now to produce a number of inexpensive, quick models of the product so that we can investigate the problem solutions generated in the previous stage. This is an experimental phase, and the aim is to identify the best possible solution for each of the problems identified during the first three stages.

 

The solutions are implemented within the prototypes and, one-by-one, they are investigated and either accepted, improved and re-examined or rejected on the basis of the users’ experiences. By the end of this stage, the design team will have a better idea of the constraints inherent within the product, the problems that are present and have a better/more informed perspective of how real users would behave, think, and feel when interacting with the end product.

 

After several iterations, I arrived at an angle of 40° for the slant which now stopped the drop of 2 pin plug due to gravity.

Step 05

Test

The final product was tested for all electrical and safety compliances and launched in the Indian market as the Angular Multiplug. It has become an iconic best seller for the brand.

CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 48

 

Product Designer and Innovation Consultant, Paul Sandip shares his word on how to develop and create products that are authentically Indian, yet bear an international appeal

India being such a diverse country, it is almost impossible to identify any unifying aesthetic preference. There is no one ‘Indian look’ which can be injected into a product to be a hit in the Indian market.

 

However, what does unify us is our common sense of utility, and to be relevant in the Indian context, our ideas need to resonate with our belief systems and way of life. The design does not have to look Indian, but be Indian. And to unearth such insights, one needs to empathize with the end users; understand their pain points, and try to address them beautifully. Genuine needs are often felt but seldom expressed. Hence, one has to be very observant to the product usage scenario and create products that have universal beauty; not ones that are merely skin deep.

There is another way to attract a customer; by design. It is a subliminal connect which can be achieved by taking inspiration from the context of using the product, and then translate those ideas into Unique Selling Propositions. “USP by design!”

Quality in design is perceived at different levels; an emotional level i.e. to what extent it fulfils your desire, and at the physical level i.e. how the product feels to touch or smell. The more subtle the elements of design are, the more curious the end user will be and therefore get attracted to the product, wishing to own it without probably even knowing why.

 

Finally, attention to details, such as how the product parts fit with each other creates a perception of quality. When people say it is a Chinese product, they often intend to say that the fit and feel of the product is flimsy, hence perceiving it as cheap quality. The choice of materials and their finishes also play an important role in establishing a high quality perceived value; like what Apple does with their products.

To sum it up, keep the idea rooted in India, explore new materials and push the limits of manufacturing processes to achieve international quality. Only then can the necessary and fundamental balance be attained, so as to create just the right mix of Indian and international.

Issue-37

Published in Issue 37

The issue includes interactions with Preeti Vyas from VGC on ‘How to pitch for clients or retain the existing one’ and Ashish Deshpande from Elephant on ‘Challenges of working with a startup’, along with some best freelancers like Archan Nair, Shreya Shetty and Paul Sandip, sharing their knowledge of working with various clients. Also, Sachin Puthran from Thatzit.com gave a 10-point no-nonsense guide for studios to handle their finances. A must read, if you are planning for the financial year ahead or worried about your handling your money matter, this issue can give you much-needed insight and guide you to a better financial health of your business or freelancing. 

So Order Your Copy Now!

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 48