Cathal Loughnane and Design Partners

On Tuesday we had our first guest speaker for the CDC module, Cathal Loughnane of Design Partners. One of the first things he said to us was that the company were weak at marketing themselves, but giving a talk to 40 students who are then obligated to go write a blog about you can’t hurt. Just saying.

Cynicism aside, it was a really interesting lecture. Design Partners is a relatively small firm with studios in Bray, Co. Wicklow and San Francisco. It works mainly in the areas of consumer electronics and home wares, but is starting to branch out into the area of consumer medical products.  It sets it self apart in two ways, one being it’s continued heavy use of physical model-making (as opposed to CAD) and it’s focus on creating and maintaining a relationship with it’s clients.

I personally, hate the idea of real model over digital models, but whatever works I suppose.

The body of the talk was about “Design Principles”, without going into huge detail, my takings from them were were:

  • Story: Have a point to the product, don’t just create it for the sake of having your face in the market, otherwise it’ll just get lost in the competition
  • Magic: Have something  about the product that makes people say “Oh, that’s really cool/clever/etc.” (I don’t know how to get this across, but in my head that’s said in a kind of surprised way)
  • Invisible: If the customer doesn’t need to see it, don’t let them. Why let the laws of physics stand in your way?
  • Mastery: Pick a skill and be really good at it. Specialize, have something that you can say, “That’s my thing”
  • Flawless: Go for perfection, and be disappointed with anything less (from yourself). Be hyper-critical (again of yourself, and not, say, eyelash curlers?).
  • Generous: Give the customer more than they expect. (The surprise thing in Magic works for this too)

The lecture also made the idea of “Portfolio” seem more possible. To now, the whole concept has just been a terrifying word with a horrific amount of work attached  As you may have noticed, the portfolio section of this site that I went through all the trouble of setting up (with subcategories and everything), is completely empty. This is hopefully changing as of tomorrow.  There were slides of portfolios from accepted candidates and, whilst they were fantastic work, I definitely looked at them and felt, with a bit of effort, I could do that.

This post has been far too positive and it just doesn’t feel like me, so I’m going to throw in that my right leg went dead at one point and I sat there in a moderate amount of pain for about an hour.

Eyelash Curlers

Eyelash curlers are something that, design-wise, have always bothered me. It’s a metal implement not unlike a scissors in appearance that one is expected to clamp down on their eyelashes with. Then hold it and don’t blink. Blink and you’re dead, or at least, blink and you’re eyelash-less.  Who’s idea was that? Google patents tells me it was Chables W. Stickel’s in 1928, and it hasn’t changed almost at all since. Except that now-a-days most have a spring in them, because putting something spring-loaded in your eye is always a good plan.

Regardless of whether it’s done up with pink plastic or it’s the particularly nasty looking object on the right  by Urban Decay, it looks surgical. It’s just a matter of whether its for “Biopsy Barbie” or a zoo vet.

It must work though, right? Why else would a product that looks like it was dreamt up by the Spanish Inquisition have stuck around unchanged for 85 years? Well yes, provided you’ve got an average shaped/sized eye, but as I was told by my lecturer in ergonomics, the average human doesn’t exist. My eyes aren’t even the same as each other not a mind to say as anyone else’s. This is something the Urban Decay beauty above claims to address, but I’ve never tried it and I think if I was given the opportunity, I’d sooner run screaming.

More recently, we have electric, heated curlers like this:

It’s like a hair straightener. Only for your eye. There’s no way that can go wrong…

E-Ink Keyboard

As someone just learning Adobe Illustrator and trying (unsuccessfully) to keep its keyboard shortcuts separate from those of Photoshop and SolidWorks, I completely agree with Gizmodo when they say this “needs to become a real thing”

Designers Maxim Mezentsev and Aleksander Suhih took the existing idea of dynamic keyboards which use LEDs, but crossed it with e-ink; drastically lowering the power consumption and making it wireless.

I want.

First Post

I am not a writer, I  have never been, I’m incapable of making it past a paragraph without turning it into an argument with some non-existent opponent. Great when I was debating, not so great when I was supposed to be writing essays on “The Theme of Love in Wuthering Heights”. Having left secondary school for a B.Sc (with an engineer-ingy feel) I thought I’d left my days of prose behind me, but no.

As part of my studies in Product Design and Technology, specifically the module Contemporary Design Culture, I am required to start this blog about my observations of design (actually I was required to start it 2 weeks ago, but shush). In all honesty, I’m horrified at the idea of it, but I shall endeavor to try, and provided you don’t mind asking yourself “who is she so angry at?”, this will hopefully be an interesting read.