THE ASTON MARTIN VULCAN
This week we got to choose a topic/theme for focus. The theme/brand/topic had to be one that doesn’t currently make your product, mine being a hairdryer. Initially I struggled to choose a theme to focus on, some of the themes I considered were Crohns and Colitis UK (charity), Lamborghini and FILA. I’m not sure why I struggled exactly, I think it might have been because the options were so broad paired with the fact that I was getting ahead of myself and imagining a final hairdryer product for each theme I considered. In the end I forced a decision upon myself, thus being Aston Martin, and just went with it. I chose Aston Martin because I thought that its aesthetic and style would make for a nicely styled hairdryer as well as being interested in the company because it is in the process of opening a large factory locally.
I carried out all initial analysis and research steps that we’ve learned and put to practice over the past weeks in order to gain a good understanding for the brand, their meaning and their aesthetic. Now equipped with a range of methods built up over the past weeks for example emotional intent, FAM and CMF, I was able to build a broader amount of research for my portfolio. I decided to begin by creating some general hairdryer mood boards initially to refresh my mind and gain some general hair dryer knowledge and information about what’s currently on the market by a range of brands – I highlighted some of the key features of these that stood out to me and provided inspiration/interest.
I then moved on to doing some more in-depth research on Aston Martin and created multiple mood boards to go alongside this as well as provide me with a better visual knowledge of their aesthetics, forms and values as a brand in order to better understand them and therefore, hopefully design a better end product in alignment with them as a brand/company.
However, I soon decided that Aston Martin in general as a brand was too broad to focus one product on as they have been crafting cars for so many years and have so many models/products by this point that have adapted so much over time – I decided that I needed to choose a particular model to focus on so I chose The Vulcan. Moving forward, having made this decision, I did some further research into this model and made some specific mood boards again, highlighting some of the key features that I could take forward/use as inspiration in my designs.
I moved on to creating an emotional intent page for this particular product/project including a list of descriptive adjectives, emotions/feelings and a song that I felt best reflected what I was designing. A lot of the key things I picked up on here were very strong and positive with use of words such as ’empowering’, ‘inspiring’, ‘luxurious’ and ‘attractive’ – these were all words and factors that I had to remember and refer back to when designing to ensure that I was designing in align with what I set out to. I chose ‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor as my song as I feel that it resembles the car well, it is empowering, strong and fierce. I chose to play the song in the backgound throughout the duration of my presentation having let the recognisable statement introduction play at the beginning.
It then came to the point of making a CMF (Colour Materials Finishes). I began by concentrating on colour. As Aston are primarily a car company, of course they offer a wide range of choice when it comes to colours and finishes of both the exterior and interior of their product so I decided that it be best I chose a certain colour way of theirs to use throughout the project otherwise my designs may not look in keeping. I chose the forest green colour as my main colour as I picked up that this was one of their main very original colours in their oldest models as well as being a colour that they’ve carried through over the years to some of today’s models too. Another thing I noticed was that they tend to use one bold highlight colour on their cars so again, I decided that this should be an attribute that I carry through in my designs so chose a bright orange. Looking back now, at my mood boards with fresh eyes, I think a bright yellow might have been more appropriate but nevertheless the orange worked well and served its purpose. I added in some white and black as my fallback/primary colours as well as a grey/silver as these are all colours that are incorporated in the cars features and provide a wider range of options and don’t constrict my designs too much.
In terms of materials, I not only tried to consider those that Aston Martin use for their vehicles (both interior and exterior) but those of a traditional hair dryer too. The finishes of both provided a similar aesthetic and a lot of the quality was required to serve a similar standard. Some of the materials I found were, various plastics, aluminium, steel, glass and carbon fibre. This interlinks with the finishes section – Aston Martin, I noticed, tend to use a sophisticated mixture of gloss and matte finishes along with the highlight colour that I earlier discussed as well as some feature lights. The overall materials and finishes are carefully considered and pose a high quality, sophisticated, sleek, standard. This is something I tried to refer back to throughout the design process and, within my final designs.
Then came creating a form alignment methodology (FAM) to set put the exact level of each feature and aesthetic my product needed to meet in order to be in align with Aston Martin. Some of the high/key features that arose from this were curvature, emphasis and length while some of the lower ranked features were pattern, weight and bulk. These, again, were things to remember and consider in my designs. I tried to refer back to this FAM at regular intervals during the design process in order to help assess my designs and their relevance.
I was really excited to move onto the ideation stage of this project, something that I really feel I’ve managed to develop and refine my skills in over the course of this study group/project – this is now a stage of a project that really excites me and I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to it having in the past, dreaded the outcomes of my sketching skills and initial concept design/ideation stages. As can be seen in my portfolio, I began with very basic 2D quite rapid ideation, taking inspiration from my earlier mood boards and just letting my creativity flow, not being too precious or overly worrying about practicality. I don’t enjoy rapid sketching in 3D form so much however it is much more useful in getting a better feel for an overall design/product so, I tried to transition into this style much sooner to help develop my concepts in a 3D form. I also started to think about branding, and if I wanted to incorporate any or leave it out as well as interactive functions such as buttons, where they’d be placed, how they’d be used and what the experience of using them would be like. A big thing I began to consider more here was the purpose of a hairdryers handle (as I touched upon during the minimalism week). I questioned the use of the handle component and began considering designs that didn’t feature a handle as do the typical hair straighteners or curling tongs/wands. I decided that a handless hairdryer would suit Aston Martin as they strive to increase speed and therefore make lighter products that eliminate useless components while still looking beautiful. This lead me to considering how the handless product would be sourced energy as if we’re eliminating the handle, surely we need to eliminate the annoying cable too right? I came up with a cordless solution that instead, stood on an appropriately styled charging panel instead when not in use. Not only did this allow a cordless hairdryer, but also gave a home for the device when not in use that displayed it proudly as more often than not, hairdryers are dumped on the floor or in a pile of other electronics when not in use often messy looking and at risk of damage. This charging station allows the product to be beautifully and proudly showcased just as the Vulcan often is.
I considered numerous other methods of developing my ideas for example printing out some basic initial CAD models of my concepts and sketching over them in order to develop their form and some of the more functional features for example buttons and grills. I also pushed myself to use more CAD at this stage in order to further experiment and develop some of my earlier 2D ideas in order to see how they’d transform when taken into 3D forms. As well as this I began using Keyshot to help develop where some of the features and interactions would be on the product and how they would look for example grills and buttons. This helped me quickly experiment with these components and move their locations, sizes etc to find what best suited while always referring back to my initial analysis and research. I also continued to do hand sketches and renders as my CAD skills aren’t perfect so completing these hand renders meant that I was accurately able to add certain components exactly where I wanted them on the design. An integral part of this project was gaining feedback and using this as a method for further developing both our individual and others ideas. I made sure to always record the feedback I received off my piers whether it be by taking notes, photographs or asking them to write down their thoughts for me. This was then used as another method to use as a source for developing my concepts and narrowing my ideas.
Moving on to my final design, I am happy overall with what I have achieved. I like the final form of the product, I believe it meets the desired needs well and that it suits the style accurately while fundamentally remaining a hairdryer product and not directly copying Aston Martin but instead, taking inspiration from them to develop a product that suits their style. I like the cordless, handless idea but wish I could have better portrayed this in my final design/CAD and included an accurate representation of the charging panel and how the product would sit in this as well as how this would aesthetically look and fit in in context of use. I believe that represented like this with a good CAD render would represent the empowering product that I set out to design.
On the whole I’ve really enjoyed this series of projects and am disappointed that it has come to an end as I believe that not only does some of my work from the past weeks have some real potential, but I have genuinely thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic and the style of the teaching, tasks and work. I think that particularly in the fourth week, with a bit of extra time, I could have produced a lengthy, high quality portfolio of work to be really proud of.
I feel that after this project, I am now equipped with a wider range of skillsets and tools to thoroughly analyse particular styles/design movements/themes in order to move forward, take a random product and design it for one of these particular themes. I have learned things such as CMF, FAM, Emotional Intent as well as others. As well as this, I’m really pleased with how far some of my skills have developed for example my ability to think out side of the box, be less precious of my work/ideas and therefore be more creative when designing for a specific purpose. I feel as if it has pushed me outside of my comfort zone at times for example designing a hairdryer throughout the entire project and not having a choice in what style to design for on some occasions – however, this has done me extremely well in adapting my skills and styles over the weeks as well as teaching and making me aware of other styles. I have also tried to push myself to use CAD earlier on within projects as a tool for further developing my ideas and getting a better feel for them in 3D form as well as applying certain features, functions and finishes. Despite this, I still feel like I have a long way to go with these skills and as previous mentioned, wish I could have executed a better final outcome within my final design and pieces of work however, appreciate that this project has allowed me to take the time to practice and apply some of these skills. I aim to continue learning and improving these skills over the time to come so hopefully, when/if it comes to a fast paced project like this one again then I can effectively apply them. I believe that this fast moving pace of the project has pushed me to produce more work than usual in the given time and inspired me to keep at it without getting bored or fed up of a single brief. In fact, I think that having partaken in this module, I have found a potential career path within the product design industry that I previously wasn’t aware that existed – like mentioned at the beginning, I knew of industrial design but had the wrong understanding for what it consisted of, I thought it was a engineering based, large scale method of design but in fact, it is the part of the design process that I thoroughly enjoy and love as well as have a keen interest in. I really hope that we get to study more projects like this one in the near future and hope to pursue some further work and/or work experience in this sector.
Looking back at my submitted portfolio, I am overall pleased with the outcomes and seeing my work from the past weeks all compiled together. If I were to do the project again, I would have left a little more time to compile all of this work and potentially add some more annotations where needed throughout as well as give it a bit of a better structure. I’m ashamed that my health has got in the way at some points and restricted the amount of work that I’ve been able to produce at some stages but I am pleased to have attended every lecture bar one at the very end and to have engaged well with all activities as well as build more confidence in terms of group work and taking a leadership role as well as my ability and development in confidence to present on the spot in front of a group of people having only spent a short amount of time studying certain topic. Again, I believe that with a bit of extra time, this portfolio has real potential to look really professional. With this, I’d be proud of the project and confident to show to an employer.
In terms of my presentation, I was overall pleased with how it went. I’m aware that I missed out some points of interest to discuss but generally covered most things I set out to. I think that if I were to do it again, I would have played my song differently as apposed to in the background throughout the presentation as it was quite a statement song and I don’t feel this had full affect due to me speaking over it and mostly the general noise about the studio at the time. If I were to do this particular presentation again too, I would have liked to have been more prepared for questions at the end. Again, I think this was a time thing more than anything and that if the project were to last a longer duration, I would have been more prepared. I liked the style of some of my peers presentations too and some of their content so will use this for development in future projects/presentations. I appreciate the feedback I received and will also use this in moving forward into future projects. Again, I have really enjoyed this project and wish to continue developing some of my work from it in my own time and hopefully get to revisit it at some point.