What is Design Thinking?

In our AMA (Ask Me Anything) series, industrial designer Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman answers questions about design and process from Instagram and LinkedIn. Rebeccah is the founder of Interwoven Design Group, a design consultancy that specializes in soft goods design and wearable technology. She has over 25 years of corporate design experience and has held positions as Design Director for Fila, Champion and Nike. She is the author of Smart Textiles for Designers: Inventing the Future of Fabrics, and speaks internationally on design, innovation and the future. In this issue she answers the question, what is Design Thinking?

Watch the vide or read the transcript below for Rebeccah’s explanation for what is design thinking.

What is Design Thinking?

You have probably been hearing the term “design thinking” and maybe even wondering exactly what it means.  Its a sexy phase – and one that a lot of people and companies are using.  But is it thinking like a design or is it something more.  

Basically, Design Thinking is a process that is very similar to the design process. It’s approaching a problem as a designer would. It’s used to solve problems by prioritizing the user’s or the customer’s needs.  It relies on observing, with empathy, how people interact with their environments, with the objects and tools they use,  and with each other. From these observations, you gain insights and then work in an iterative hands-on approach to create innovative solutions.  

The 4 stages of a Design Thinking process are clarify, ideate, develop and implement. Very much like a traditional design process. The observation part is critical to understanding the problem and identifying the opportunity for innovation. Here at Interwoven we specialize in wearable technology and soft goods. If you’re curious about what our work looks like, get in touch. You can follow us on our website or on our Instagram @interwoven_design.

Want to know more?

Do you have any questions about design? Let us know on social media! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn for design news, multi-media recommendations, and to learn more about product design and development.

What is the difference between a mockup and a prototype?

In our AMA (Ask Me Anything) series, industrial designer Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman answers questions about design and process from Instagram and LinkedIn. Rebeccah is the founder of Interwoven Design Group, a design consultancy that specializes in soft goods design and wearable technology. She has over 25 years of corporate design experience and has held positions as Design Director for Fila, Champion and Nike. She is the author of Smart Textiles for Designers: Inventing the Future of Fabrics, and speaks internationally on design, innovation and the future. In this issue she answers the question, what is the difference between a mockup and a prototype?

Watch the vide or read the transcript below for Rebeccah’s explanation for what is the difference between a mockup and a prototype.

What is the difference between a mockup and a prototype?

A PROOF-OF-CONCEPT prototype effectively gets the point across, quickly. Here at Interwoven, we make fast 3D sketches of mock-ups to determine function, scale, user interaction and many other things – these works-like prototypes focus on how it works. At the same time we often work on Looks-like prototypes that focus on the appearance of the product.  As we refine the design, the mock-ups increase in fidelity until we are making functional and appearance models. The final prototype combines the best of both of these into a fully functional prototype.

We will start working in paper, chipboard, EVA foam, and muslin then as the design evolves we will start to move into CAD for the hard parts and patternmaking for the textiles. We can cut, bend, perforate, hem, stitch and tailor anything relating to fabrics and textiles.

The final prototype brings together the Look-like aesthetic model and the functional Works-like model into a single streamlined prototype that is both aesthetically pleasing and fully functional.And here at Interwoven we specialize in wearable technology and soft goods. If you’re curious about what our work looks like, get in touch. You can follow us on our website or on our Instagram @interwoven_design.

Want to know more?

Do you have any questions about design? Let us know on social media! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn for design news, multi-media recommendations, and to learn more about product design and development.

Soft Goods Prototyping

Soft Goods Prototyping

Soft goods design is its own special area of the design industry, and soft goods prototyping is similarly unique. At Interwoven Design we specialize in soft goods, so we make a lot of these prototypes. The process we use is particular to our studio, and to demonstrate why we like this method we’ll explain what is special about soft goods prototypes and walk you through the steps. This prototyping method can become a powerful tool even for designers who lack textile and sewing experience.

What is a soft goods prototype? 

Prototyping is an iterative process and starts with a combination of 2D sketches and 3D mockups. these first “prototypes” are to quickly asses a design idea and are used to study volume, form, access points and closures. Once the form is starting to become refined we then progress onto a higher fidelity mock-up. this article explains how we go from a paper mock-up to a fully resolved prototype that serves as a model for manufacturing. We call this final model a “high fidelity prototype”. It looks like a new product that is ready to take home and use.

The ability to create a high fidelity prototype from a pattern is the goal of soft goods prototyping.

The goal of the soft goods prototyping process is to develop a pattern that will result in a consistent, high fidelity end-result as well as to create that result to demonstrate the viability of the pattern. A key stage in this process is making a Muslin.

What is a Muslin?

We will use “Muslin” with a capital M to indicate the soft goods industrial design mock up in a basic textile as compared to the basic cotton “muslin” fabric that most often used in this process. A Muslin is a model of the design that has been sewn up in low resolution fabrics, not using final textiles, colors, or hardware. It is a specific stage of the soft goods prototyping process that helps us to test the accuracy and quality of our pattern before using final materials. A Muslin is a tool on the journey to developing a compelling prototype that allows us to work out any issues with the design before moving to final materials. It may or may not be literally sewn in muslin fabric, though it often is.

A Muslin (with a capital M) is a critical tool for testing the accuracy and suitability of a soft goods pattern.

The Brown Paper Pattern-making Method

But how do we move from a drwing and fast mock up to a pattern from which we can cut a Muslin? We use a process called the Brown Paper Patternmaking Method to create our soft goods patterns, a method developed by Interwoven Design’s principal designer Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman. In this method the designer sculpts a full scale model of the desired soft good in brown craft paper, marks it up, cuts it apart, and creates a pattern with it that is then sewn up and tested for accuracy and performance.

The Brown Paper Pattern-making Method allows a designer to go from a paper model to a high fidelity prototype with accuracy.

We’ll walk through the steps and show some examples to demonstrate the key concepts, but here is the overview of the process:

  1. Create a refined design drawing
  2. Sculpt a full scale craft paper model from the drawing
  3. Add seam lines, grain lines and cross marks
  4. Cut the model apart to create pattern pieces
  5. Transfer the craft paper pieces to pattern paper
  6. True the patterns and add seam allowance
  7. Transfer the pattern paper pieces to muslin 
  8. Sew up a Muslin and make any necessary adjustments to the pattern
  9. Sew up a final high fidelity prototype

The Steps

1. Ideate to create a refined design drawing. This process should involve 2D and 3D sketches to develop your design concept. Think about hardware, colors, and final materials as you create this drawing. Your design drawing should be a detailed and refined schematic that serves as a blueprint for the model making that will follow.  While some refinement will be possible in future stages, the drawing should be as close to a final design as possible.

A refined design drawing considers the final form, materials, colors, and features of the design.

2. From the design drawing, sculpt a full scale model in brown craft paper with masking tape or painter’s tape. Craft paper behaves a lot like a textile while holding its shape well, which is why we use it for this method. Creating the initial model is the most difficult step of the entire process. If you can get this step right, the rest of the process will flow naturally. Any adjustments that need to be made to the original concept will be made here. Anything represented in your sculpted model will be transferred to the final model, so make sure it is what you want.

Here are a few tips:

  • Starting from the “base” – sculpt the form of the model so that it looks as close as possible to the finished design – it should be the same scale and shape a your concept
  • Only use tape you can draw on. Use as much as you need.
  • Draw on your model as needed to show every detail: curves, closures, straps, pockets, handles, etc.
  • Refine your sculpture until it is airtight and exactly the form you want.
  • Edges should meet neatly with minimal to no overlap.
The full scale model in brown paper should be neatly and precisely constructed.

3. Once you are satisfied that the object fits and functions as desired, draw seam lines with a fine tip Sharpie.  Be sure to consider how 3 dimensional shapes will be created by joining flat pieces of fabric and draw a seam where the flat pieces join.  Think of how a basketball, baseball or tennis ball are made from flat pieces to create spheres. A noter good tips is to look at your own soft goods possessions to see how they are constructed.

Seam lines determine the practical construction of the form.

4. Mark grain lines (north-south lines that denote the grain of the fabric from which the bag will be made) on each of the brown paper model pieces. Add cross marks and labels to each of the pattern pieces. Cross marks will act as guides to rejoin the pattern pieces once you separate them.

Think of a pattern as a puzzle in 3 dimensions, create a guide for yourself so you can put the puzzle together again.  Cross marks are markings perpendicular to the seam lines that show where the components created by the seams connect. Give each of your pattern pieces good, descriptive label and be sure not to duplicate label names.  You can use photos to capture the construction and make a map of how the pieces fit together.

6. Cut the brown paper model apart. Be careful to cut the seam lines as straight and as neatly as possible. Use scissors or an Exacto knife to cut with precision and using a metal ruler where applicable to also help create clean lines.

IMPORTANT TIP: If your bag is symmetrical only cut the right half of the bag and leave the left half intact. You will be able to “reflect” your pattern to make a perfectly symmetrical pattern from only ½ of your model.

Adding grain lines, cross marks, and component labels ensures that you will be able to recreate the form once it is cut apart.

7. Transfer the brown paper model pieces onto pattern paper.  Double check that all of your seam lines are the same length by “walking” your seams on top of each other. This is “trueing” the pattern and ensures that the pattern will fit together with smooth seams when it is sewn up. Seams that are not the same length will not sew together correctly. There will be too much fabric on one side, and the final model will be messy. This can be avoided though careful review at the pattern stage. Be sure to transfer labels and cross-marks to the pattern paper. Once the pattern is reviewed for accuracy, add a seam allowance of ½”.

Cut with clean, careful lines to get the most accurate pattern possible from your model.

8. Transfer your pattern pieces to muslin (or your chosen mock-up fabric) and cut. In the studio, we use wax transfer paper and a tracing wheel to transfer the pattern accurately to the muslin. but you can also cut out the pattern pieces and trace them onto you fabric.

Accuracy and care is needed at every stage of this process to make sure the final result reflects the original model.

9. Sew up a Muslin and assess thoroughly. The Muslin is a test of your pattern, it allows you to resolve any issues before creating the final prototype. On the Muslin, you can add zippers, trims and plastic hardware so you can test how things work and feel. Make any adjustments needed and transfer them back to the pattern.

Once an initial Muslin is sewn and assessed, a second or third might be created to further refine the design. These changes are updated in the pattern.

10. Finally your pattern is ready for final fabric. Transfer the pattern to the back side of the final fabric, cut it out and sew up a high fidelity prototype in final materials. This final model proves the quality and viability of your pattern and it should look like it could be purchased and used immediately.

Once the Muslin demonstrates the viability of the pattern, a high fidelity prototype can be created.

Try it!

While it takes time and attention to use the Brown Paper Pattern-making Method, it is a wonderful way for those unfamiliar with pattern-making to create original patterns that can provide consistently professional results. Do you have a soft goods design idea you’ve wanted to bring to life? Try this prototyping method!

What are Soft Goods?

In our AMA (Ask Me Anything) series, industrial designer Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman answers questions about design and process from Instagram and LinkedIn. Rebeccah is the founder of and principal designer at Interwoven Design Group, a design consultancy in Brooklyn, NY. She has over 25 years of design experience and has held positions as Design Director for Fila, Champion and Nike. She is the author of Smart Textiles for Designers: Inventing the Future of Fabrics, and speaks internationally on design and innovation. In this issue she answers the question, what are soft goods?

Watch the video or read the transcript below for Rebeccah’s definition of an industrial designer, then check out our Insight article on this topic for a more in-depth explanation.

What are soft goods?

Hi, I’m Rebeccah from Interwoven Design Group. I’m back again for another Ask Me Anything. Today’s question is, what are soft goods? So soft goods are basically products that are made with textiles. They’re smushy and soft, and they can be anything from outdoor gear to a backpack to stuffed animals or furniture. What we do at Interwoven is wearable technology, products that are worn on the body. 

If you’re curious about what we do, you can get in touch, we’d love to hear from you. Follow us on Instagram or come to our website, getinterwoven.com.

Still curious?

Soft goods are a specific subcategory in the design industry that includes products made with primarily but not exclusively non-rigid (soft) materials. It is a major category that makes up a significant part of the US consumer market and is driven by innovation, form, and aesthetics. Please check out our article on soft goods design to understand this topic further.

Do you have any questions about design? Let us know on social media! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn for design news, multi-media recommendations, and to learn more about product design and development.

How Does an Idea Become a Product?

How Does an Idea Become a Product?

Millions of products launch every year but the process behind how they all come to be is often mysterious. How does an idea become a product? What is going on behind the scenes?

In our What is Soft Goods Design? post we shared a broad overview of the product development cycle that we follow for each project at Interwoven Design. In this post, we’ll walk through our specific studio process in detail, breaking down each phase of our workflow to provide insight into how a design studio functions, and how a good idea becomes a great product.

Product Development

Our design process embodies the true nature of collaboration. Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, our fearless leader and the founder and principal designer at Interwoven Design, leads our team to achieve ambitious goals throughout the design and product development life cycle. By approaching industrial design with a start-up mindset we can iterate quickly, constantly informed by user testing and feedback that allows us to create innovative and functional wearable products like the Apex Exosuit.

Interwoven Design Process: Research, Design, Prototype, Manufacture & Launch
The Interwoven Design Process has four main stages: Research, Design, Prototype, and Manufacture & Launch

Design Research & Analysis

We conduct design research and analysis that includes key requirements, physical constraints of the product, marketing objectives, examples of similar solutions, materials inquiries, aesthetics, and preliminary fabric research. Using this research as a jumping off point, our team explores additional aesthetic research, including trend, silhouette, texture and colors.

Brainstorming

Collaborative discussions to brainstorm product features and technical options based on market and technical research can be highly generative. All ideas are then put forward and distilled into a single product goal.

Research

Market research includes observational research, existing products, comparing features, benefits and capabilities, determining how price and performance compare across the current market, and first-hand teardowns of competitor products.

Planning & Design Concepts

The planning phase is a collaborative and internal effort to initiate the product development process. From a detailed definition of the product scope to the initiation of the creative design process, this includes concept creation, color development, materials research required for the full product, and silhouette sketches for both the apparel (as we do a lot of products that are worn on the body) and industrial design.

Product Scope & Management

Defining the scope is a collaborative effort to create the product vision, finalize the list of product requirements, and establish a product roadmap wherein every required feature is tied to a user need.

Concept Development

We provide textile (apparel and soft goods), product and technology design solutions guided by research. Multiple solutions are presented at this stage. This phase includes preliminary fabric research and the establishment of a product technology platform for the client brand as well.

Alpha Prototype

We create a series of ideation sketches and alpha (first round) prototype mock-ups for conceptual solutions. These proof-of-concept prototypes are created quickly and consist of looks-like and works-like models to promote rapid iteration. The goal is to test and iterate as fast as possible to get to the best solution.

Ideation Sketches

We provide refined conceptual designs that have been selected from the sketched concepts. Detailed drawings of each of the selected designs are presented in multiple views and rendered with a high level of detail.

Alpha Prototype Mock-ups

Two to three proof-of-concept alpha prototypes of the conceptual designs are developed. Materials are identified and low fidelity alternatives are used where needed. Each subsystem is prototyped independently with each iterated upon two to five times until it meets the chosen requirements. An aesthetic prototype can be created if requested by the client.

Beta Prototype

We make a collaborative effort with the client to choose the final subsystem implementations to be used in the beta (second round) prototype. The final product offering is determined and the final design is triggered. This final stage is often where the most difficult decisions are made between functionality, cost, and aesthetics.

Prototype

This phase involves the development of a fully functional and looks-like pre-production prototype that matches the list of requirements. It involves two to three iterations of design, development, testing, and redesigning, depending on the product and client needs. CAD files are created for rapid prototyping, preliminary mold making, and pattern making.

Production Hand-off

We coordinate the hand-off of the design and prototypes to an internal product development or production team. We can also work directly with a manufacturing partner to facilitate the transition from high fidelity prototype to mass production.

Manufaturing

As the work is in progress through manufacturing, I will remain available to give on going support the product through its final stages of development and consult with respect to whether what is being sourced, manufactured and delivered is in conformity with the specifications and of suitable quality.

On-going relationship

We maintain an ongoing client relationship throughout product manufacturing. This relationship can include any or all of the services listed here. Ongoing relationships are structured as a monthly retainer agreement.

Services

o Project management with manufacturing partner
o Continuing design innovation (R&D)
o Company technical advisor

So…that’s it!

So, that’s how an idea becomes a product, at least in our world of industrial design. Do you have an idea for a great product that you’d love to see brought to life? You just might want to reach out to us! Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn for design news, multi-media recommendations, and to learn more about product design and development!