Design Concepts for the Democratized


Design concepts, in general, begin as solutions to some problem. My car is ugly, my chair is uncomfortable, and my computer weighs too much.

For a long time, industrial designers along with design engineers solved these problems for us. And if we had enough money, they solved them for us in an especially stylish manner.

That all changed in the past two decades as more consumers started to reward companies for better design. Target, Ikea, and Apple all found a healthy market in “democratizing design,” that is, marketing affordable chic design concepts to the masses.

More recently, “democratizing design” has come to mean something more. Now it’s the masses producing the design concepts. With free software, such as Creo Elements/Direct Modeling Express, anyone can articulate a design concept. With crowd-source sites like Quirky and 3D additive manufacturing facilities, those design concepts can quickly become marketable products too.

Of course, professional industrial designers are quick to point out that free software and a 3D printer do not a designer make. Fast Company blogger David-Henry Oliver wrote a few years ago, “Maya, Pro/Engineer, the Adobe Creative Suite, Processing, or a pen and paper–all of them, regardless of your technical acumen with them, can be used to express poor judgment.”

Agreed.  You can find examples of unsophisticated design for sure among the unskilled crowd. But I don’t think that should stop anybody from trying. Why? Because I think the inventor who is trying to figure out how to multitask in the shower, dry out wet gloves, or chart a fat dog’s exercise, is gaining valuable skills. He or she sees what succeeds and what fails. He or she gains confidence to pursue a career in STEM.  He or she might even come up with a life-changing design concept. You never know.

If you’re new to creating design concepts, download Creo Elements/Modeling Direct Express. And don’t let the cynics deter you. There are all kinds of problems waiting for the democratized masses to solve.

Image by Mike Rohde

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