Product design is a growing niche in the Middle East, this growth has been fueled by important events like Design Week in Dubai. Prior to this, the design industry in the Middle East traditionally lacked design-driven innovation. For instance, designers used outdated systems in production, with ideas and focal points set up around two-dimensional sketches. Similarly, designers used Eurocentric methods that did not reflect the region in both design and material. At the same time, the lack of intellectual property protection (IPP) further inhibited design innovation.
However, start-ups and small-to-medium enterprises (SME) have brought disruption to product design in the region. Smaller and more agile innovators are using cutting-edge technology such as 3D printing for design, and rapid prototyping to advance product design from mere visualizations to tangible prototypes. These prototypes can then be put on websites like Kick-Starter to track, forecast, and predict sales. The meteoric rise of start-ups and SMEs also shed more light on their founding members, their methods, and their promising designs. Sites like Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok make it easier for trending designs to go viral within a short space of time.
Similarly, with the rise of enforceable intellectual property laws in the Middle East creators feel increasingly confident to create. This is because intellectual property rights enable creators to derive financial benefit from their innovations and work. Without financial incentives, many product designers would not bother to go through endless design iterations. These iterations enable designers to perfect their ideas but the process can be time-consuming and costly.
As in other industries that use technology, there is a need for legal protection for design-related inventions and processes. Such innovations are products of human intellect just as much as other inventions. They require substantial research, inventive effort, and investment in sophisticated science. The benefits of IP not only lie in the interests of inventors and their employers, but also in the public interest. As a result, this promotes technological advancements in the design industry.
Product Design vs. Industrial Design
Product design and Industrial design are closely related terms that have been the subject of much debate. However, the following definition seeks to better clarify the terms.
“Product design is sometimes confused with (and certainly overlaps with) industrial design and has recently become a broad term inclusive of service, software, and physical product design. Industrial design is concerned with bringing artistic form and usability, usually associated with craft design and ergonomics, together in order to mass-produce goods.” (Morris 2009)
Beyond that, product design can be defined as the process of “imagining, creating, and iterating products that solve users’ problems or address specific needs in a given market.” As such, product design is driven by user needs and the end-user experience. As such, product designers require both design skill and insight into customer habits, behaviors, and wants to solve real problems for real people.
Three Stages in the Design Process Ideation
a) The ideation phase includes a design brief that clarifies all the crucial elements related to product design and the design idea.
b) Ideation also includes some initial sketches to illustrate the first iteration.
a) The design concept phase focuses on the elaboration of one or more suitable product design proposals. These proposals are expanded for a broader design system, according to the design objective. This phase also includes sketches, 3D rendering, and optional physical models.
b) Design development is the final 3D model of the design. Mainly, this consists of a 3D printable of the technical drawings as support for engineering and production. Also, this aids with the evaluation and correction of technical issues related to production.
a) The implementation period is one of evaluation and finalizing for market launch. This phase adds to the possibility of retouching and/or the re-evaluation of the design. This can be done during the production period or implementation to market via customer feedback.
b) As an additional task, this phase allocates the development of promotional material, packaging, and marketing support for communication.
Notable Product Designers and their Designs
As previously mentioned, the Middle East is a thriving hub for design innovation. In fact, some of the most notable designers of this generation call the Middle East home. Also, with the region taking measures to aid and safeguard creativity it is no wonder. Here are some of the notable product designers from the Middle East.
Layth Mahdi Al-Attar
A tech-heavy futurist, embracing cutting-edge robotic fabrication. Al-Attar is also an award-winning architect. His advanced robotic fabrication earned him a research fellowship with the University of Michigan in Stone robotic fabrication. This exact technique gave birth to his collection named Ripple. This features robotically-milled stone products, making a rare fusion of luxury marble stone varieties and robotic fabrication techniques. He cites the late Pritzker Prize-winning pioneer Zaha Hadid as his inspiration. Al-Attar also describes himself as an architect at the core, with a great love for product design and its rewarding, small scale, and fast-paced results. Web Design in Dubai