The Bauhaus, or “house of building” was an art and design institution beginning and ending long before anyone reading this was alive. Fortunately, it’s legacy lives on in Berlin at the Bauhaus Archive. I had the pleasure to visit the location yesterday and take a brief tour.
By now the pennies should be pinched for, at the very least, the major components of your design. We’re not so worried about the choice of fastener or paint color right now as we are in actually designing something. Finally. For me, product design equals AutoCAD Fusion 360. That wasn’t always the case but it’s my default now.
A little thing has been tingling at the back of my mind when I think about what it means to say “furniture for the people”. Like any good product designer hoping to make a buck, I present my ideas to what I’ll loosely call a focus group. I might mention the materials, the process how easy it is to assemble and then I’ll get that look. That look is always followed by, “It’s nice but a little too expensive for me.”
Yet another jump in topics, but brand identity is a good one and something that every startup always seems to be thinking about. The world is very competitive and you want to stand out whether that means product features, price or a new idea. This can seem like a daunting task when you’re small and new. Continue Reading
Continuing on from the first product design post, we’ll follow up on our consumer based pricing model and dive into a product summary. This will be one of the first steps for solving a small business’s feasibility study. A feasibility study will tell us, before we waste time and money, if our one-in-a-million idea is actually worth pursuing.
More than one blog post is required to talk about product design. There are books, blogs, courses, seminars and more all devoted to this one thing and its categories. You hear “user experience” (UX), “industrial design” and other buzzwords floating around that all point back to the same thing. Product design. Continue Reading
This week I’ve managed to finalize a new table design. It, like all of my other pieces, has a simple name – T3. It’s the third table I’ve designed and leaves out the strange Scandinavian names that we’ve all become so fond of. No offense.
Making Things that Make Things
As it turns out, designing furniture is easy. If you couple a few simple ergonomic rules with a world full of visual inspiration, anyone can have a new design in just a few hours. The tricky part for me is determining how to make the things. One isn’t so bad; two gets to be a struggle and a hundred or a thousand demands some finesse.
What I mean by finesse is making the thing that makes the thing. I designed and modeled T3 in just a few hours. The design is great and is finally looking like it will be in the price range I want to offer a side table at- around $150. It has a feature that I call “the bowl”. The bowl is a cone shaped piece that joins the legs to the table top. I spent a lot of time trying to come up with an easy way to make the cone shape.
I need a machine that can cut a shallow taper, repeatably, and then drill three holes to accept the legs. The whole thing then gets painted in a semi-gloss paint of your selection. Nobody sells a machine like that.
A few motors, gears, belts, linear rails and bearings and a bearing or two and I’m halfway through the design.
The design is a little rough and is definitely not a highly rendered masterpiece with motion controls and all that fancy stuff; but it works. More importantly, it gives me a sense of scale and an estimate of materials needed and how they will be arranged.
The red piece slides along the 20mm orange rails. Attached to the red piece will be a router with a bit spinning at about 18,000 RPMs. The yellow bit is the finished bowl which will rotate via a motor and pulley underneath the light blue base. For now I’ll move the router along the rails by hand. I estimate about two minutes per bowl. That should be plenty good, until folks start buying them by the dozen!
A hard pill to swallow when starting a business is how slow everything moves. Maybe it isn’t slow but it often feels that way. A thing to make a thing is just like creating a website, an About Us page or even sweeping the floor. You’ve got to buckle down and invent stuff sometimes – and you’re the draftsman, the engineer, the fabricator, the medic and the clerk.
Still doesn’t stop me from wanting an intern though.
Happy building. Leave a comment about the things to make the things that you’ve created!
All modeling was done using AutoCAD Fusion360. It’s free to use for people earning less that $100k!
A Page is Born
I’m pleased to announce that the new ‘About Us’ page is ready for the public. This one was tricky for me for several reasons. I don’t like to talk about myself. This might be evident and make the page be a little weak on content but we’ll find out soon, especially if you leave a comment. The page was also difficult to create because of the pressure and my lack of resources. Luckily, I think it will work for the interim – I really only want to add a short promo video of me talking a bit for about a minute so that you can get to know me, and not just the business.
This page is often touted as one of a website’s highest viewed pages. With that in mind, you want it to be great, not just good. I searched for the best pages and came up with a common theme: tell a story and have some great graphics. Fortunately I had some not-so-old photos taken by a great friend that symbolize what we do – build furniture. For reference, he used a Nikon full frame DSLR and did some editing. I’ll post his website up when he gets it built later this year. With all of that riding on a single page, I was beginning to feel the pressure.
I wanted to have a mission statement and also convey some sort of our ideals and why we think our furniture store is a great idea. I’m not knocking on the big name, 600 pound gorilla, Ikea. In fact, I love their stuff, I have three bar stools in my own home. I just tend to think that affordable furniture doesn’t have to be so cheap feeling or that quality furniture doesn’t have to be made by a bearded lumberjack using a hacksaw and a blunt rock that costs you $5,000.
Don’t be fooled, I’ve got one expensive piece in the queue. I just can’t get the price down because the design is so rad and the laser cutter wants a ton of money for it. I’m sorry in advance. You’ll know what I’m talking about soon enough.
I’m also still undecided if I should add a “Contact Us” section or just put it at the bottom of every page. I don’t feel that an entire page is needed just for an email address and a phone number. I don’t have a physical store, so no map is needed. In writing this, I think I’ve already decided not to make a dedicated page. No need for the extra clutter.
Speaking of clutter, I think having the color palette already put together has made designing the pages that much faster while reducing clutter.
Lastly, enjoy this photo taken from the banks of the Vltava River in Prague. Can’t think of a better way to put some thoughts together to finish an About Us page.