The problem-solving process in product design is like playing chess

I design by sketching non-stop from morning to night. My work is interrupted only by the phone and quick meals. I use a lot of paper and the drawings don’t seem to change much, but some parts have been emphasized or removed. I look at the subject from different angles, front, back, side and top, sometimes from below to find mistakes or to confirm my image. I save my drafts like an author or researcher to refer back to them later.

Ahti Taskisen laatimia luonnoksia.

The idea of continuous sketching is that at the same time my brain is working with material, structure, durability, fabrication, proportions and details. Durability, functionality, transport, assemblability, repairability, appearance and price are all important to the end result, as are manufacturing conditions and standards.

Ideas and problems still plague my subconscious at night, sometimes I can’t sleep, sometimes the solution to a problem pop into my head first thing in the morning in the delicate moment between sleep and waking up. Sometimes it’s useless, but it always gives you new ideas and, above all, inspires you to keep working.

I am always working on several projects. When one project is on the desk the others are maturing in my mind. I don’t use a computer for drawing, but sketch at a scale of 1:7-8. I made the drawing at 1:10, because that’s where the proportions fall into place. I try to draw the details to life-size, i.e. 1:1, to get a sense of the physical size, shape and detail of the object. When the design work stops progressing and starts going round in circles, I go outside for fresh air. Walking is unlikely to solve the problem, but at least it gives you new energy.

When I’m driving to the factory for a design meeting, I might stop on the side of the road to write down or draw an idea that has come to mind, so that it doesn’t go to waste. In the meeting, I see my model as a three-dimensional object for the first time. First impressions are important, that’s when I look at an object with stranger’s eyes. It’s always surprising: too small, too big or not looking well-proportioned. Meetings are creative brainstorming events. In the midst of different statements, I can only accept ideas that support my original vision, otherwise I lose my original idea. The final design meeting is extremely important, as it is the occasion when the design is finalized. The prototype becomes a product that goes into production, and it will be difficult to change. The small mistakes that remain will follow it until the last product series is manufactured, to the annoyance of the perceptive user and the designer.

The product design process is like playing chess. At the outset, you proceed with the moves that have been identified as good, but then you have to stick to the strategy you have chosen. In the abundance of move, I try to use tactical moves to gain an advantage and on the other hand, watch out for counterattacks and hidden traps. I usually play a quick game and the hectic pace of the game can lead to mistakes, but on the other hand, even small insights help the game flow. An industrially manufactured product follows a set of rules, like in chess. You learn and develop your own skills from other people’s games, as well as from the works of others. No one can create the perfect object, though that should be the goal of every designer.

I wanted to design an object that is like a beautiful flower and helps people in their daily chores like a faithful servant. It’s made without bottlenecks and is always worth its price. At its best, it grows into the shape of a tree and is still easily replicable. My ideal object will delight its user year after year, and it will patinate with them. Eventually, when it reaches the end of its journey, it will return back into nature.