Saturday, March 29, 2008

#1 handbag conversion

I'm calling turning a handbag concept into a finished product, "Handbag Conversion". Where to start??? Well, I took an art course at UCONN years ago where the first assignment was to glue a black spot somewhere on a white piece of paper. The next day it was a white spot on a black piece of paper. I actually spent time pondering this placement...
I asked the instructor what the purpose of this assignment was. He said that the people in the class all had different skill levels and so to start, we have to start at the very beginning, so that everyone has the same basic understanding of the fundamentals.
I came to realize that the actual purpose was to create a grading system where Engineering students like myself, who were required to take the class, could be given a "C", and art majors could be given an "A" in a way where this bias could not be proved.
Still, it was an interesting answer that I have always remembered, and a method I am going to try to employ here.

So where do we start? Lets first copy and print the list at the bottom of this Handbag Design page and follow the instructions above it. Providing the info on this form is already way past where we need to start so lets backtrack.
You play chess one move at a time... making what you think is the best move each time it is your turn. You have no idea whether you will win or loose or what the board will look like on the last move. You can't operate that way if you are trying to create a particular product. You can't just start building.
Modern art is done that way though, you flick paint onto a canvas, make a brush stroke, flick some more paint... trying with each application to make the canvas look better than it did before and hope you end up with something that people will want to look at. If you do, it isn't because of design.
To make something by design what do you need first? If you are building a house what do you need first? If building a car what do you need first? How about a need for the product, a reason to make it. Where does it fit into your marketing efforts... already I feel I am way past the basics.
The designer thinks about those things, the maker only has to follow the designers instructions. The architect designs the house for his client and provides a plan for the builder. The builder hires people skilled enough to execute the plan. The architect has to watch the process to insure the correct materials and procedures are used.
In building construction the process is divided into fields of knowledge performed by different trades. There are the concrete people who make the foundation, the framers, the electricians, the heating and cooling people, the roofer, the painter.
In handbag construction what does the designer do? What does the maker do? My answer to the first is, not enough. The answer to the second is, everything else. Who is the designer? Anybody who thinks the title looks good on them... Who is the maker? It's, "That Guy", all designers are looking for.
Next time I'll try to cover what the Designer does, or should be able to provide the maker. In Italy last year I met a fashion design student and asked her what they teach in that expensive N.E. school.... She said, "They seem to put a lot of emphasis on drawing". That's about what I figured...
Homework assignment:
Take a handbag you have. One you are familiar with. Place it in front of you and look at it. Close your eyes and fix a picture of the handbag in your mind, suspended in air (the bag, not your mind). Keeping your eyes closed, take that picture of the bag and revolve it until you are looking at the back, turn it back to the front and open it and look inside. Close it and place it on the table. Open your eyes. Practice this over and over until you can see every detail.

See you next time

My wife read this and said, "It's fine up until the end. YOU are a VERY pragmatic guy... and it's fine if you really do it like that ... but all that opening and closing your eyes... people will wonder what you are smoking."
After 31 years of marriage she still doesn't know how I think... not a bad thing. Actually I do it without closing my eyes. The thing is that if you can't maneuver parts and assemblies in your mind like that, and I'm told some people can't, you will never be a designer. This is the most basic first step.

Blog by