Conceptualism and product design

Concept designs exist in that strange hinterland where desire and technology haven’t quite caught up with one another, where technolust is stoked by the technically impossible and brands are rendered down to their bare essentials. The most recent ‘idea’ to catch our eye was this concept design for a physical ‘Instagram camera‘, a splice of Polaroid aesthetics with as-yet-undiscovered technology. In the past few years, the concept design has emerged as a calling card for emerging designers, a way of demonstrating how adept one is at distilling the essence of a brand into an easily digested object. It goes without saying that concept design is pure design – there are no troublesome engineers on hand to quibble with factors like cost, practicality and realism. Sites like Coroflot, Behance and CarbonMade are awash with fantasy products that are as much about branding as they are about an understanding of manufacturing processes and materials. Notable imaginary projects include Alexandre Verdier’s VW Microbus, the Holga D by Saikat Biswas, the Antrepo Minu Tuner and Time Tuner, any number of concept yachts, and the NAU-designed Stratocruiser, a ‘lifestyle Zeppelin’. Creating a conceptual product is an essential part of a designer’s education, but the emergence of photo-realistic rendering is paired with the new role of thinking about product as brand extension or enhancement. As consumers, we are not only buying into a company’s present, but it’s future.

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6 Responses to Conceptualism and product design

  1. Just a minor quibble with this:

    It goes without saying that concept design is pure design – there are no troublesome engineers on hand to quibble with factors like cost, practicality and realism.

    I’d say pure design is knowing all of the constraints, and then proceeding with the design work. Designing without constraints (or ignoring them for the sake of a creative exercise) is merely practice. Knowing how to navigate the waters of engineering, marketing and cost constraints and release a beautiful, useful, real object is what I’d argue to be pure design.

    • things magazine says:

      Good point. I guess we meant ‘pure design’ in the sense of design without limitations or constrictions, an unrealistic and self-indulgent state for sure, but also something that one has the luxury to explore during education – with good reason. The constraints you mention – and the constraints that create the actual things we use in everyday life – aren’t immediately apparent to students and are often so obtuse as to be invisible unless you’re actually within the production system.

      • That’s definitely fair. And MAN, I want that Holga D!

        By the way, I just love Things Magazine. Been following your site for several years and through a few re-designs, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually reached out to you guys to tell you so.

        • things magazine says:

          That’s the thing – everyone wanted that Holga D…. all the more frustrating given that it could never conceivably exist. Thanks for the compliments.
          all best, jb

  2. Net100 says:

    I didnt know what it was at first i think it is a radio. LOoks really cool. How much :)

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