Today we were tasked with a new brief, one that will only last just over 24 hours, another live project. I was really looking forward to another live as they’re usually extremely interesting, informative, enjoyable and challenging (in a good way).

This project brief is something rather different to those we’ve undertaken in the past – this one, in a nutshell, focuses on the outdoors and requires a product that can start a fire, unassisted, using one hand only. The product must be reusable, durable, and competitively priced (approx £4/£5) – these are just some key elements of the brief. The initial briefing off Derek was quite informative with lots of information about the requirements of the project and the products that are currently on the market as well as giving us some demonstrations of these in use while talking through their pros/cons – I found that this was really helpful as prior to this, I didn’t have a great understanding at all about what we were supposed to be designing and for what exact purpose.

When it came to being split into groups, I was actually looking forward to being mixed with the first, third and masters years as it is always a great opportunity to make new friends, and gain knowledge/ideas from new people but, within the same practice. This is something I would have been pretty apprehensive of in the past however, since being here at CSAD and in particularly on the product design programme, I have learned to really enjoy and even excel in these situations now which is lovely as this is a skill/ability I will certainly need and benefit from when it comes to working in the real world.

On meeting and initially sitting down together, our group started by introducing ourselves and our initial understanding / ideas with regards to the project. This made or a good starting place as it meant everybody was on the same page and we were able to fill in the gaps with information where needed. We then moved on to brainstorming a list of things to do, discussing through our strengths and weaknesses and from this, allocating group members with starting tasks for the project/morning. I highlighted some of my strengths being research and ideation so was therefore allocated tasks in these areas after we’d put all of our initial ideas down on post it notes and chatted through them as a group. We got a load of post it notes and brainstormed (very basically, not being too precious) some of our initial ideas along with a little bit of extra research to better understand the brief and, the market.

From here, we moved on to placing all of these post its out on the table and discussing through them, thinking about them with regards to the brief, their feasibility etc. This discussion, ideation and development could have gone on forever but, due to time constraints, we cut it after about an hour and decided to pick our top 3 ideas to take through to begin prototyping, testing and further developing. Gareth and Anika, the first years in our group highlighted their strengths as being in the workshop so, they headed to begin making basic models to gain a better understanding of our top 3 ideas. Meanwhile, Lottie and I continued to research and sketch develop these ideas, concentrating particularly on aesthetics and ergonomics while Dan practiced with digital sketching and thinking about the functioning and workings of the product.

After this (around lunchtime), we all met back up to share what we’d been doing, what we’d discovered and our opinions in moving forward. Having some physical models as ideas for the products certainly helped us all gain a better understanding for how each would work. We then analysed these along with some of our further research and sketch work as well as having done some basic usability testing amongst ourselves, chose one of the ideas as our top in order to continue developing into a final idea. I felt our group worked extremely well together at this stage and we really gelled as a team. Everybody was practical and was providing input and ideas and everybody provided great insight/opinion. None of us were precious over ideas and said what we really thought about each. This really helped in terms of time too because in such a tight timescale, you haven’t got the time to be precious over lots of ideas or to develop lots of them. We agreed on our final idea and everyone was happy. So, we started discussing through ways in which this idea could be bettered as well as how it would actually work from lots of different perspectives eg the sciences/workings, the aesthetics, the ergonomics etc – this again is great when you have a diverse group because you’re able to share and learn from everybody’s knowledge/ideas. I really appreciate and feel like I learn a great deal from these collaborative year group opportunities.

Once we’d made a decision in this area, we made a list of the things we had to do in moving forward. This included things such as working on the ergonomics of the products shell, remodelling the product in multiple sizes to test which would be best for function and usage (the brief asks for a light product but, we still wanted it to be comfortable enough to use especially with different dexterities)  and the internal mechanics. Again, we allocated jobs in these areas and went on to complete the given tasks making sure that we were photographing and noting the journey/findings along the way. We made sure to keep checking back in with each other and ask each other any questions at all if we got confused or needed feedback along the way.

By 4/5pm we had a basic model of our final idea which was great as many groups were a lot further behind at this point which meant we had time for another big discussion on the product. This time looking into a little more depth for example costs, materials, weights as well as smaller details such as how and where the product will attach to the user and colours.


We had a good knowledge and idea for what needed to be done come Wednesday morning. We agreed to arrive in a timely manner so that we could finalize and get everything we needed to done. The main things left to do were a higher fidelity model and some renders.

The final presentation went really well – we all equally allocated separate things to present/talk about so that everybody had a chance to speak and we got some really good feedback. I was really pleased that our design idea had had an impact on the staff and judges. They seemed to appreciate and enjoy our model too which I was glad of – I’m pleased we made the effort to make a higher fidelity version.

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