Last week you designed frankenproducts, mashing together two different products to make something new.  This week you’ll make several different versions of one product, using a different metaphor for each one.

Try to spend at least 30 minutes sketching, 5 or 6 days a week. Short practice sessions each day usually lead to better results than longer, less-frequent sessions. You should make at least one new sketch each day, so by the end of the week you should have at least 4 new designs and your studies of the original products.

You may notice that the layout of these posts has shifted over the last few weeks. Sorry about that. I’m looking for something that’s a little bit clearer than the original layout. Please be patient while I figure it out.

Get Ready

Find a countertop kitchen appliance with an obvious function. The function should be built into the product’s form, the way the metal whisk is built into a hand mixer, the bread slots are built into a toaster, or the carafe is built into a drip coffeemaker.

Day 1: Build Your visual Vocabulary

Sketch your product from 2-3 different views. Orthographic views are a good place to start. But make at least 1 perspective sketch that clearly shows 3 sides (usually the top, front, and 1 side). We call this an “informative view”. When you finish, you should have a solid understanding of how this product looks.

Days 2-6: Create new forms

Redesign your product using a different visual theme each day. Ask yourself, “How can I make this product look like a UFO? Or a preschool toy? Or a sports car?” Then sketch your ideas. Make each idea as beautiful as you can, but make sure the function is still visible and easy to identify.

Sketch more than one idea for each metaphor. The overall shape is going to be more important than the details. You’ll get more interesting, and more beautiful forms if you sketch more than one design for each theme.

If you’re having trouble choosing a visual theme, try one of these:

  • A fish
  • A steam-powered locomotive
  • A balloon animal
  • A jet
  • A trumpet (or any brass instrument with lots of tubes and valves)
  • A vegetable
  • A bulldozer

If the theme you chose doesn’t work out, that’s OK. You’ll chose another one tomorrow. See what you can do with the difficult theme today.