Borrowing the properties of an object to create great design


You can find inspiration to design fantasy objects (or even just a new type of model) in everyday objects and items. One of the most effective ways to come up with new designs is to COMBINE the properties of one object onto another. In this example, the object to be designed was a flower. The object of inspiration was a banal sharpie pen. The different properties of the sharpie where translated into the various parts required to become a flower.

To combine the properties of two objects, you must first make a list of the fundamental properties of each one. Imagine playing a guessing game, where the participants must guess the item based only on its properties.

For example:

Inspiration: Sharpie pen. Long plastic item; Pointy end; Grey, black and white; Clip on; Cap.

Item to be designed: Flower. Long stem with a cup on the end; Stamen; Leaves; Petals.

This doesn't mean that you are always going to come up with some great designs, but it is a good way to start. One of my favorite recent examples of a design which borrowed from another is the Whaletone, a GORGEOUS grand piano designed by Robert Majkut, who borrowed the properties of a killer whale.

Exercise: here is a good exercise for you to warm up. Take a look at the Whaletone grand piano. Can you make a list of the properties of the whale and of the piano? This can help you to understand how the designer came up with this design.