By Mark Schoening
Most of us have noticed that after reading a great book, a movie based on the book often falls short. Similarly, great movies are often the ones that leave out explicit detail. Why? Because when reading a book, the human brain has an amazing ability to fill in gaps, and our imaginations can create the scenes, details, and characters that mesh with our unique individual experiences. When others (e.g. film makers) fill in the gaps for us, they may – or may not- create something that will as perfectly resonate with our world-view.
At SIGMADESIGN, industrial designers use this understanding of the brain’s ability to fill in the gaps throughout the design process. We begin with the quoting/planning phase where we ‘sketch’ a plan using broad strokes to provide an outline of how to undertake a project. By providing a rough sketch, a client can picture our work, yet have the freedom to add to or modify the sketch as they see fit. We quickly learn if we are on the same page and together we can begin the critical task of aligning expectations as we move toward a brilliant design solution.
As a client, you may come to us with an idea of what your product/project will look like – even if it’s just in your head. We carefully draw-out what your vision is, and are then sure to include sketches of your idea, along with our own initial concepts. This accomplishes two things: it demonstrates to you that we are listening, while allowing you to compare your idea along with ours. But, in all cases, we purposely do not provide too much detail–not even color. We’re honing in on your reaction to overall form or concepts, not to specific details. This process continues, continuing through general concept exploration and finally with specific detail development.
We’re purposely “sketchy” throughout the entire design process – sometimes even to the final product definition. You may wonder, “How can a final product be sketchy?” While the final deliverable will define the smallest details such as radii, materials, surface finishes and colors, we still leave room for the user’s imagination. That is how a product can subtly communicate ‘friendly’ or ‘dangerous’ or ‘sophisticated’ to its user. With appropriate and explicit design details a well-designed product lets the user discover both how to use– and how to feel – about a product.