Muses in Design: A Comparison of Inspiration Techniques in Product Form Giving Education

DS 78: Proceedings of the 16th International conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE14), Design Education and Human Technology Relations, University of Twente, The Netherlands, 04-05.09.2014

Year: 2014
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Arthur Eger, Wouter Eggink, Ahmed Kovacevic, Brian Parkinson, Wessel Wits
Author: Mulder-Nijkamp, Maaike; Corremans, Jan
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1University of Twente, The Netherlands; 2University of Antwerp, Belgium
Section: Case Studies
Page(s): 294-300
ISBN: 978-1-904670-56-8


Defining a products' shape is one of the key challenges for design students in the overall product development process. The formal design of a product determines to a great extend the expressive character and appeal and influences the perception of the product and the appreciation by the consumer. But before a designer or student designer can actually start to give shape, he or she needs 'inspiration', a vague, mysterious, intangible and hard-to-define phase preliminary to the act of design or visualization of ideas. This paper reports on a comparative study of the integration of inspirational tools and techniques in form-giving in the design curriculum and projects of the programs Product Development at the faculty of Design Sciences of the University of Antwerp (Belgium) and the program Industrial Design Engineering at the faculty of Engineering Technology of the University of Twente (The Netherlands). The focus of this paper is to get a better grip on the vagueness of those inspiration tools. The comparative study indicates that there are different types of inspiration tools that will conform to different types of students. Some need a more rational way in getting inspiration, others benefit more from an intuitive approach so they can fully use their creativity. The study leads to a general input - form inspiration - translation – creation - output model where the inspiration techniques are categorized into three distinguished approaches: inspiration tools based on a more systematic approach, an intuitive approach and a contemplative approach. The model also shows different levels to translate the inspiration tools into new product form-giving ideas, based on regeneration (copying elements of the inspiration source), transformation (transforming the elements of the inspiration source into new forms) and interpretation (reinterpreting the inspiration source). Both institutes integrate rational, intuitive and contemplative techniques in the curriculum, so students get familiar with different working methods. This will help students to get insight in their personal creativity process, and can serve to better diversify future design projects.

Keywords: Inspiration, Form-giving, Creativity, Rational inspiration, Intuitive inspiration, Contemplative inspiration


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