Design is perhaps the most challenging aspect of creating a new product. If you're planning to design and release a new product to market, you could do a lot worse than take inspiration from the masterminds behind some of the most ambitious and complex design projects imaginable: architects Craig Hodgetts and Ming Fung.

From an Amp to an Amphitheater

Craig and Ming are the architects behind highly notable projects such as the new Hollywood Bowl and, most recently, the Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville. According to Music Row writer Eric T. Parker, Nashville's newest musical and architectural icon is designed to reflect the heritage of the Cumberland River, beside which it rests. In reality though, there is much more to the way in which the Ascend was conceptualized.

Hodgetts and Fung revealed that while seeking ideas for the music venue's structural design, they researched music memorabilia and became enamored with the form of a vintage guitar amplifier manufactured by Gretsch. The image of this 1950s musical artifact thus became the architectural inspiration for a site that will host performances from the world's leading musical performers. Hodgetts Fung tuned in to nostalgia to design a structure that will evoke the emotions of visiting performers and fans, immersing them deeply and intimately in Nashville culture.

Feeling Your Way to Great Product Design

The Ascend Amphitheater's origins owe themselves to feelings and emotions, the quintessential fuel that drives the most successful architects. Product design is no different in this regard. Keep the following tips in mind when you set to work designing your product; they will help you to convey emotion in its makeup and promote positive feelings for customers who will purchase it.

1. Quality Shows You Care

When designing the Ascend, Craig and Ming's main concerns were to appeal to the needs of audiences and performers visiting the venue. They wanted to build a venue that showed thought and concern for users' pleasure and enjoyment, whether they were making musical history or witnessing it in the making.

If you care about your new product and reflect that fact in the quality of design and materials, customers will notice. They will know they are buying a product into which plenty of thought has been invested. Apple's own Jonathon Ive once professed to the belief that design success is dependent upon a high degree of focus and care, as reported by Apple aficionado Jonny Evans in an article for Macworld.

2. Simplicity as a Feel-good Factor

As in architecture, simplicity in product design typically wins hearts and minds, at least in terms of the connection between form and function. It's easy to overlook this fact when engaged in the creation of your first entrepreneurial product. There is a natural tendency to try and outdo existing products in your niche, but in doing so you risk over complicating the object of your creative efforts, alienating customers as a result. Strive for a simple, non-threatening design and you're more likely to be rewarded with a product that will draw customers in.

3. Understanding Your Market

Strong product designs come from a strong knowledge of the relevant market. Hodgetts Fung already had profound knowledge of architecture for music venues, but undertook diligent research to understand what mattered most to Nashville's esteemed musical community. For country music performers, tours are a family affair, so the Amphitheater design incorporated a sumptuous artists' wing, with homely dcor and top end catering facilities.

Likewise, the way your product makes customers feel will depend upon how intuitively it meets their purpose. Doing your homework and particularly, your market research, will help you tap into the psyche of your potential customers and provide a product that just "feels right".

4. Product Design: Architecture but Smaller

The parallels between architecture and product design are not surprising, after all, designing a widget is fundamentally the same as designing a skyscraper, but on a much, much smaller scale. Make your product intuitive in use, simple in design, and thoughtful in construction, and you'll have a winning formula--one that evokes positive emotions and makes customers hunger for your brand.

Published on: Sep 21, 2015