It was that very kind of task when the customer didn’t know how it should look like, there was only a specification and the set of inner parts.
Industrial designers are that very entry point of the project, for which the problem can be given in any form, even written on a napkin. Even in this case industrial designers themselves will think out all the rest. Of course, all of us like when the problem is presented in the form of multipaged technical task, which describes practically everything — the layout, the materials, the process of production, economics, etc. But I receive such prijects once a month at best . That is why Formlab employees are able to write the TOR for any project, guided by all the information that could be obtained from the customer.
When the task is poorly formulated, if formulated at all, there are two recommendations:
1. Begin to formulate main parts — if it is a device then there is no need to ask electronic engineers for their ideas of how it should look and what it could do. It is better to go to the sales or marketing department, and ask them to describe in brief what is popular now. It is clear that we are not talking about innovations but about the evolutionary development of the existing product, but it is better to start from the market anyway. Then you ‘d better visit the designers and ask them to visualise the product that would correspond to the sellers wishlist — that’s when it’ll get a visual image and it will become easier to think and to breathe for everyone. This approach is tested for years: when you have a picture,the discussion of the project quickly switches into a practical and constructive format. And already having such picture, you can tell electronic engineers something like: We need such device, how much time it will take you to do it? Of course they will clip your wings, but it is better to choose the lesser of two evils.
2. When the first advice is not suitable, i.e. sellers can not articulate what exactly they need — then it is better to head directly to the designer. Such challenge will be at the same time harder and more simple for them. They will need to collect all the desires from all layers of the project, and combine it all into the task for themselves. By «all layers», I do mean everyone — starting with cleanin service and accounting and ending with a loader John, who will work with the boxes at your warehouse. Industrial designer should be a communicator between all the sections of your production (including management, another point of setting goals and limitations) and your customer. I can not judge, whether it must be a full-time designer or a part time employee. Been there done there, and I can say that there are advantages and disadvantages in both approaches. But it is the only way to release a product that would satisfy everyone at once and maybe get a revolutionary development of growth, rather than the evolutionary one.
And the project itself had been implemented for the RIA Novosti in the framework of participation in the tender, which we lost to our Belarusian colleagues.