The Thesis: Find a problem or innovate something?
This has always been the struggle when it comes to deciding on a design thesis proposal.
I was enticed by water sports while doing my internship as an Industrial Design student at Blood Red Inc. During my final week of training, we came up with this brilliant idea to elevate the brand from its competitors.
We wanted to innovate key equipment used in the sailing world, particularly the sailing harness and its partner, the buoyancy vest. I liked the idea of integrating products, and so did the company. With Blood Red owner David Harris exposed to sailing for years, and competing in small races in Europe, Hong Kong, and the Philippines, we already had the back ground and starting point to make this concept work. Supported by the company, I decided to make this my thesis study.
Every design and thesis work begins with questions:
First, why is this design needed? Will this concept have a value and impact?
Second, who is this for? This one was easily identified, since the equipment is specifically used for trapeze sailing boats, and the product targets sailors.
Somewhere along the way, the actual design and research process were the most tiring parts. I needed to identify our product’s advantages against other products by doing a comparative analysis on the features and prices of competitors’ products.
The grueling yet most satisfying part was the sketching and prototype development. Approximately 3 months into the research and sketching studies, we managed to produce our first prototype. Since it was our first sample, it was subject to a lot of revisions and adjustments. We did experiments on the succeeding prototypes to identify the best approach for the design. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th prototypes came in quick succession as we tackled and tested aspects such as straps versus nappy style, 4-point adjustment, how to adjust the front buoyant area, and more. After some time, we produced our fifth prototype and we were happy with the outcome.
At the end of the year I was able to present a combination sailing harness and buoyancy vest for my final thesis presentation. It was a satisfying moment to present the product I envisioned. We called it Integra.
However, my thesis might be done, but Integra wasn’t finished yet.