“Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one else has ever thought.”
    
-Albert Einstein


INNOVATION

Working in the field of creativity and innovation is nothing but rewarding. Try asking five different people what their definition of creativity is, and you’ll get five different answers. Ask ninety-five more people, and you’ll get ninety-five more different answers. Now, tell all of those people to be creative, and they will give you a blank stare, or do it a different way then they described. To some this may be frustrating; however, I find that I thrive in this environment and enjoy the challenge of drawing the creativity out of others.

As Director of Design for Moth to the Flame LLC, I am tasked with facilitating a meeting for a room full of people from multiple disciplines, industries, and countries, and within a short period of time help them to “BE CREATIVE.”   My goal is to inspire creativity and encourage brainstorming to help the team formulate innovative solutions for the challenge at hand.  I recognize that everyone thinks and works best in different ways, and use different techniques to appeal to the creative side of all participants; after all, there is no “right way” to innovate.  Incorporating current trend information throughout the process ensures that culturally relevant and forward thinking ideas are realized. My goal during a workshop is to work with the attendees using verbal, visual, and sensory techniques to make creative thinking achievable for all.

During a workshop I utilize and teach a creative problem solving process in order to combine a multitude of ideas into a few unique, realistic solutions. The solutions are then refined (and refined some more) before being made into realistic renderings, CAD models, or functional prototypes.

Group involvement in the workshop encourages company ownership and pride from concept to product, and ensures that the most creative and pragmatic solutions come to fruition in an expedient manner.

For more information about Moth to the Flame Consultancy, visit www.mothtotheflame.net.

 

DESIGN RESEARCH

Research plays a crucial role in the design process, especially on the front end of a project. It is an invaluable tool that I use when defining a client’s primary concern and developing potential solutions.  Often times people approach product design with a solution in mind, without thoroughly examining the problem at hand; in my experience, this “cart before the horse” mentality creates additional challenges further down the road in the design process.  

One investigative method I have frequently employed is ethnographic research.  In this method, consumers are examined in their own environments interacting with products; this can lead to identification of a unique set of observations that are different than those originally voiced by the client.  Surveys are another helpful tool which can be used to provide valuable insight into a target market’s mentality.  Focus groups are especially helpful when evaluating a potential product’s worth compared to existing products in the target market; this helps to spotlight further design improvements and changes that need to be made.

Benchmarking is a form of design research that evaluates the problem from a motivation standpoint.  What is the drive behind the project? What other items in the target market exist, and where are areas for opportunity? How will the product make an emotional impact on the end user? All of these questions can be benefitted by researching magazines, the Internet, and libraries; for example, when designing a new hair dryer, one might research women’s magazines for what products currently exist, identify where there is a perceived need for a unique product, and develop a plan to help the user emotionally connect with that need.

However, research will not be valuable during the design process unless it is presented in an easy-to-understand format. Depending on the type and complexity of the research performed, I may utilize image boards, graphs and charts, user profiles, or full research reports.  However it takes shape, the research results must be clearly organized to help define the fundamental problem which the design will solve. 

During my time as an industrial designer, I have utilized numerous design research methods to compile data into easy-to-understand, valuable reports for products ranging from simple product packaging to complex medical training devices, consumer electronics, and cinematic cameras.  Proper design research is a subject about which I am very passionate, not only because I enjoy the research process and organization of results, but also because of the drastic impact that good research can have on a design project.

Some design research clients of mine include Panavision, New Balance, Fisher Price, Targus, LifeTouch Technologies, Red Bull, and Nestle.