Wednesday, April 9, 2008

#2 Handbag Conversion

Many people want to be designers because, at it's most basic, it's simply "Day Dreaming", which is something they think they are good at.

So, now that you have the image of what you want to make and can manipulate an image of it in your mind, what do you do with it? Well, unless you can convert that day dream into another format, that is what it will remain.
What you don't do is call me on the phone or send me an email that goes something like this actual email:

I love leather back packs! But as hard as I have looked, I have not been
able to find all the features I like in one back pack. So, I have a design
in my head, and I'm going to try to put it on paper. If I can do that, and
send it to you, can you make it for me? If so, how much would it cost me?
Please let me know. I am really, really looking forward to your response!

And this:

I'd like the exact same shape as the GUcci cruise hobo, but just a tad
rounded at the corners. Maybe cropped just where the flowers end at the
corners. The handles: I'd love a strap that is actually a double strap,
but attaches like a single strap. I'm trying to skecth something now.

This is where you get out your pencil and paper and describe what that picture in your mind is... but not in words, You draw it. How? Start in the bottom left of your paper with a straight on front view. Above it a top view a top view, as if you were looking down at it, the same size as the front view. To the right of the front view draw a side view. Other views of details are included as necessary. To learn the basics of this find a book like "French's Engineering Drawing".
The next is an Oblique view like the one below that was emailed to me by a customer. To start, learn to do this with a T square and 30/60/90 triangle.

This guy actually knows something about drawing and did a good job with the dimensions. What do you think it is? I think it's a case that slides onto a belt for something to do with his hearing aid or something, with a slot in the cover so he can raise or lower the volume instead of playing with it in his pocket (very distracting). Looks like all the info is there... Just a matter of making it, right?
All you have to do is find "That Guy" that I mentioned in the previous chapter. When you do find "That Guy" what is he going to think of this drawing?
Well, the first thing I thought was, "It ain't going to work". If it's going on a belt it has to curve around the waist. It is going to get twisted out of shape in use and the cover won't fit properly. Maybe you think that it isn't the business of the person making it, to explain practical considerations to the designer. What happens when the customer gets it and it doesn't work? In this designers mind it works just fine, who's problem is it when it doesn't?

When I lived in the West Indies there was a guy I knew who bought a property with a house on it. He wasn't satisfied with the house, so even though it was recently built, he hired a "Designer" to remodel it. She had them rip out the walls to modify it to her design. They remade the living room. On the other end of the house they remade the bedrooms. Then they called the designer with a small problem... it seems they only had 2 feet left in the middle for the kitchen.

The thing is, the design has to work. If you were actually going to make this case, how would you put it together? If it's made out of sheet metal, no problem, just bend the corners and weld the parts together. Out of wood, you could just glue it together. Out of fabric it probably wouldn't be to hard to sew, you could just fold the fabric down and fit it in the machine to sew it. Out of leather... How thick is the leather? How firm?
Even if you could make it out of metal, wood, or fabric, to do so you would still have to make a lot of design decisions, wouldn't you? For me, that drawing is missing so much information, it's little more than an idea of what the guy wants. The first thing I would have to do is design it as something that could actually be made with the equipment available.
The designer has to specify everything so that the people in the factory can make it. There isn't "That Guy" who knows everything, at least in most factories. There is the guy who uses the dies to cut it out. There are a lot of people who only know their operation (maybe), There is the person in the spray booth, the skiver, the splitter, the "Machine operators" who sew it up. The machine operators who only use one machine... the only one they know how to use... don't get me started on the problems I have had with machine operators...
More about what a designer needs to provide in #3