Being able to create something out of next to nothing is common practice for product designers. Ross Kemp of Asap Watercrafts – a Nottingham-based company that is crowdfunding on Crowdcube – explains to us why he believes his fellow designers should show and not tell.
I used to think to bring a product to market you needed a huge budget, shiny offices and a factory in China. After the most amazing adventures developing our Asap rescue watercraft over the last few years, I’ve found that actually, you are at your most creative when you have very little or even nothing. It is here that us product designers excel.
Studying Industrial Design at Loughborough, we explored the ins and outs of designing a product. However, for me the magical moments came when we made models. Our ideas came to life, and for the first time became real. We could put tangible ideas in the hands of our friends and families, and proudly say – “I designed that!” Just maybe, for a split second, they might believe it is a real product they can buy.
Making believable products is what us product designers do best, and I’ve found lots of designers that don’t do it soon enough. Whether pitching for investment or simply explaining your idea to a mate, - having something tangible to put in their hands suddenly makes it much more real.
We are super lucky as product designers that we are generally pretty good at making things (it’s our job actually). This means that even with a bin full of scraps, we are able to build decent- looking prototypes.
When I worked at the vacuum cleaner brand Vax, every project started with making a prototype out of what we could find in the bins. This happened before the company would invest any further.
Learning how to be resourceful allowed my product to survive – begging and borrowing wherever I could (stealing is illegal). This varied from asking companies for free samples/offcuts to make your latest prototype with, to offering royalty payment deals - so you can afford those expensive people you want to work with.
“Show me, don’t tell me”
After winning Best UK Start Up from Lloyds Bank, I had a mentoring session with Managing Director, David Oldfield. Everything David asked me lead back to his catch phrase; “Show me, don’t tell me”. I loved this approach and really took this onboard.
As well as being resourceful with our product and business I also had to find creative ways to personally survive. I was sure that others could learn a few tricks from how us product designers think. So, for the last few years, I have given talks and workshops up and down the country on just this.
I have seen app, online and service-based businesses launch and grow quickly. However, for me, there is something special about being able to hold something in your hands. it seems to answer so many questions that an image can’t – it feels real. I try to always take a watercraft with me to meetings, even if they are in a café or pub! It makes a big difference and often attracts lots of other good attention too.
Since school us designers have been awesome at Show & Tell, so let’s make things more – show me, don’t tell me!
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