The Design and Technology Process: The Brain Behind Successful Creations

The design and technology process is a systematic chain of activities through which items are produced to address the needs of individuals and that of the society. It assists amateur and seasoned designers to produce hand-made articles to satisfy our basic needs. The paramount of these needs is shelter and then food and clothing. Articles for storing items such as food, oil, etc. are made. Apparels for personal adornment and other products to improve our livelihood are made possible through activities in the design and technology process. Creative abilities are developed and enhanced through activities in the design and technology process. Organisational skills, production skills, thinking abilities are learnt as the artist goes through the design process. These skills, when developed, can be used in producing useful items which when sold can aid in satisfying one’s economic needs.

The needs, tastes and aspirations of clients are satisfactorily met when steps in the design process are meticulously followed. Clients’ priorities and specifications such as shape, size, colour, etc are satisfied. This helps in maintaining good customer relations and mass mobilisation of sales.

There are ten steps in the design and technology process. These are:

i. The problem identification
ii. Definition of the problem
iii. Investigation of the problem
iv. Possible solutions
v. Idea development
vi. Preliminary designing/model making
vii. Working drawing
viii. Prototype/model
ix. Evaluation
x. Production

(i) The problem identification:

This is the first stage of the design process whereby the existing problem that calls for the production of the item is clearly stated. For example, most students in a girls’ school have been misplacing their ID cards and money.

(ii) Definition of the problem:

This is the second stage of the design process where the specific nature of the problem is pointed out together with the available materials and financial strength of the client. For example, most of the girls do not have purses for keeping those items that are why they lose them so easily. There is a heap of leather off-cuts deposited at the visual art studio of the school.

(iii) Investigation of the problem:

This is the third and most important stage in the design process whereby the designer engages in research and analysis to find the exact solution to the problem.

He asks himself several questions and tries to find answers by carrying out a thorough investigation. For instance, what is actually causing the misplacement of the money as well as the ID cards? Is it that the students are careless or there are thieves in the school? Or is it really that the students don’t have a place to safely keep these things? A thorough investigation proved that the students need a purse to enable them safely keep these items.

He then probes into the shape, size and form of the article; the tools and materials for the production; the cost of the article; the method of production; the safety of the article; the cultural elements and the final appearance of the article.

• The shape, size and form of the article- This should be considered very carefully. For instance, since the purse is for students, it should not be too cumbersome and should be able to fit into the pockets of their school uniforms. A rectangular purse measuring 10cm length × 8cm width will be very appropriate.

• The tools and materials for the production- In selecting the tools and materials, the artist has to consider their availability, suitability and durability as well as the financial strength of clients. Since the leather off-cuts are freely abundant in the department, durable and suitable for the production of the purses, it will be used. Simple leather implements and tools in the visual art studio can be used for the production of the purse.

• The cost of the article- The cost of an article is usually dependent on the total production cost and the profit margin which ranges from 5%-10% of the total production cost. The cost of the purse should be moderate and affordable to the student body.

• The method of production- This refers to the production techniques used for the production of the item. Simple production techniques should be used in the production of the purse. These include cutting, stitching, glueing, and thonging. These will allow the visual art students to assist in the production of the purses.

• The safety of the article- This is ensuring that the produced item would not cause any injury or harm to the users. For instance, rough edges of the purse should be smoothened. Zippers and other fasteners of the purse should be fixed properly to avoid all forms of injury.

• The cultural elements- The choice of design and colours of the items should reflect the beliefs and aspirations of the client. It should reflect the culture of the client. Adinkra symbols that contain gems of our cultural values and norms can be used in designing the purse.

• The final appearance of the article- The finishing technique used in finishing the product should ensure that the handling, safety and attraction of the item is enhanced or improved. For the purse, the surface of the leather used can be finished either by burnishing or polishing.

(iv) Possible solutions:

Reliable remedies in addressing the problem are suggested. Several ideas are obtained from the environment. Elements of design such as lines, shapes, colours etc. and principles of the design like harmony, unity, balance, dominance etc. are put to work in producing varieties of design for the purse. The most suitable design which will best solve the problem at stake is taken.

(v) Idea development:

The most suitable idea or design is further developed and worked on through series of stages by either adding or subtracting some aspects of the original design. The main parts of the original design are retained while the other details are worked on to develop a unique and original design. This would ensure that the most appropriate and suitable design is chosen for the work.

(vi) Preliminary designing/Model making:

Preliminary designs or model of the final design is made using materials. This makes the work more actual since it is in a three-dimensional form showing the length, breadth, and height of the work.

(vii) Working drawing:

At this stage, the various parts of the article are drawn to scale to assist the designer in the making of the final article. The actual measurements of all the parts of the work are shown. For example, the measurements of the sides, base and gusset of the purse are clearly indicated in the working drawings. This can be used in producing patterns or templates of the article with ease. It would also assist manufacturers in producing the same item in mass quantities with accuracy and precision.

(viii) Prototype/Model:

This is the stage during which the working drawings are used in the construction of a prototype of the article. The prototype is the exact replica or photocopy of the final article. The prototype is constructed for the purposes of study or testing to know if the article would be able to solve the problem for which it was produced. For instance, the prototype purse is shown to some of the targeted group or end users thus the students for their comments on the shape, colour and other features of the purse to be produced.

(ix) Production:

This is the stage whereby the final article is produced using the tools, materials and production methods mentioned above. The comments of the end users when weighed and is positive, is factored in the actual production of the work.

(x) Evaluation:

This is the last stage of the design process whereby the product is finally tested or evaluated to see whether it can ultimately address the problem. The work is shown to friends, teachers and experts in the field for their comments and evaluation. The final corrections for the product are made at this stage.

How To Arrange Motifs in Creating Pleasing Designs

A motif is a principal or main design in a composition. When the motif appears together with other designs in the composition, it domineers in size as well as the number in relation to the other designs. The motifs are bigger in size and greater in number when compared with the other designs in a composition. The motifs, images or elements can be repeated and organized in several pleasing patterns in a composition. Motifs, images or elements can be repeated according to the following formats.

i. Full drop format
ii. Half drop design
iii. Simple format
iv. All over repeat
v. Positive and negative repeat
vi. Mirror reflection design

Full Drop Repeat: In this arrangement pattern, the full size of the motif or main design appears in all parts of the composition. The motifs either run horizontally or vertically throughout the substrate or material. The full view of the motifs must be seen.

Half Drop Repeat: In this design, the motifs or main designs are dropped by half by the first arrangement so that there will be halves at both ends of the cloth or paper such that when the sides of the paper or cloth are rolled, it would result in full designs.

Simple Repeat: In this arrangement style, the motifs are repeated across the material in a simple pattern. Sometimes, they are placed haphazardly in the composition without any forethought plan. The focus of simple repeat pattern is that the motifs should be repeated in the composition.

All Over Repeat: The all over repeat pattern has the principal designs or motifs appearing or running through all the parts of the material.
Positive and Negative Repeat: This repeat pattern is achieved by alternating the positive and negative areas of the picture area. The positive area or image area rotates in placement with the background which is usually composed of textures to form the repeat pattern. It is also referred to as Counter Change design.

Mirror Reflection Repeat: In this repeat pattern, the main design or motif is repeated in a mirrored manner. This is achieved by placing and alternating side by side the right and left parts of the main motifs or design.

The various repeats can be adopted and used by artists especially textile designers and graphic artists who usually engage in printing. However, a skilled printer must strive very hard to create other repeat formats on his own to meet the specifications of his work. These motif arrangements can be curled from the existing and already accepted formats used by many printers globally.

Natural Resources for Artistic Expression

The resources available in the natural environment can be utilized in the production of works of art. There are three main sources in nature that artists rely on for the creation of various artefacts. The sources are i) Plant Source ii) Animal Source
iii) Mineral Source

Plant Source

This is the resources obtained from plants and the trees in the environment. Virtually all the parts of a plant or tree can be utilised for the production of functional artefacts. For instance, the leaves of some plant species like the palm tree can be used in producing interesting temporary hats for joyous occasions. The palm fronds or branches can be split and woven into baskets and other forms of receptacles for the storage and preservation of farm produce and personal belongings. The trunks of plant species like Sese, Asanfena, Sapele, Mahogany, Wawa and others can be used for carving beautiful and functional sculptural figures. What about the seeds from these plants? They can be stringed with a thread and used for producing various beads for body adornment. The form, shape and textures of the trees were and are powerful sources of idea development for both past and present artists. The harmonies in the colours of flowers have been mimicked by designers of packages and other visual communication tools as their colour schemes.

Animal Source

This refers to the resources obtained from animals. Paramount among them is the skins, hides and kips of both small and large animals which are used for producing leather through the tanning process. The leather material can be used in producing countless articles such as hats, jackets, belts, lampshades, furniture, table mats, wall hangings etc. The furs and feathers of some mammals and birds are used in producing bristles of brushes. Some are used in producing quills for the writing of calligraphy while others are dyed in beautiful colours and used in making brooches and other fine decorations in clothes.

The bones and ivory of some animal species can be carved into interesting articles and figures. Some are used for producing musical instruments like horns that produce nice sounds for entertainment purposes. The fat of some of these animals is used in producing binders for paints and sometimes glue. The teeth of some animals can be used in producing pendants and other forms of jewellery for the adornment of the body.

Mineral Source

This refers to the resources obtained from the soil or hidden in the deep caverns of the earth. They include precious metals like gold, silver, bronze, bauxite etc. these precious metals are cast into beautiful sculptural figures. Others are used in producing medals and other forms of jewellery. Other precious and semi-precious stones like diamond, turquoise and others are also used by artists especially jewellers in producing brooches, crests, and jewellery of all kinds.

Moreover, the pottery and ceramic materials such as clay, plaster of Paris, cement, glazes and other important chemicals are obtained from the minerals of the environment. Vases, tiles, wares and pots of diverse shapes and colours are produced by artists as a result of the resources gleaned from the mineral sources of the environment.