A designed product is a particular design or specifications for the design of an item or process, or for the practical implementation of such a design or specification, or the end product of which the plan or specification was a model. The word ‘designed’ can also be used in a broader sense to describe any finished structure, invention, machine or tool. The verb to designed suggests the creative process by which a designer achieves a design. In this sense, the term is not restricted to the area of art and design but covers architecture, engineering, software, and manufacturing also. Designing is the critical first step in any process of development. It involves the selection of appropriate materials and/or technology, the coordination of actions in the development process, and the decision as to the form, function, and materials of the final output.
A product designed solution is delivered as a whole, with all the parts manufactured to fit together according to the specifications determined during the design process. The term ‘designed solution’ is therefore usually used in a non-design context to describe a technological innovation. For instance, if a scientific research organisation wanted to develop a computer chip to store astronomical data, it would need to develop a whole set of instructions for the fabrication of the chip, in accordance with the particular purposes for which it will be used. Thus, the scientific design goals must be specified, specifying the precise behaviour of the final product and the interactions involved.
In industrial design processes, designers usually come up with designs or drawings (RADs) in the form of sketches, 3D images, plans or blueprint. These may then undergo several conceptualisation processes, where they are refined until they are at the stage of production. At this stage, it is usually necessary to refer to a rational model, which is a model that is based on existing real-life objects, in order to understand how these objects work in relation to one another and how they will behave once they have been manufactured. Rational models allow designers to explain the features of their design in a clear and consistent way, while also providing an illustration of the product to be designed.
Rationally derived models provide a number of advantages for designers and their clients. Firstly, designers gain a better understanding of the functionality of their target product, as they can specify all the functions they want their product to have, in a straightforward and consistent manner. Furthermore, a rational model allows them to make realistic estimates of the costs of their proposed designs, as all the critical costs like materials, labour, time and money need to be included in the cost of production. From an action-centric perspective, it is also easier to estimate the costs of the actions that will be necessary to achieve the intended design goals, as all physical resources need to be available for their implementation.
The benefits of using a rational model during the design process are especially relevant when the designer has already decided what his product looks like, and how it will behave. If this is the case then the rational model can provide a good starting point, because it will show exactly how each part of the product will fit into the whole. For example, if a designer wants to create a book shelf, then his rational model will show exactly which materials will be required to build the shelf, in the precise proportions. It will also highlight the cost and effort involved in creating the shelves, as well as making sure that there will be no structural errors. Similarly, if he wants to create a computer desk, then the same rational model will be very useful for him because it will clearly show the dimensions of the space that can be used for computer desks and the corresponding materials needed for their construction.
The benefits of designing using a rational model are clear. In addition to providing a clear and consistent picture of what the product will look like, they also offer designers a realistic assessment of the costs of their proposed designs and allow them to make accurate estimates of the possible costs and efforts required to achieve them. This allows designers to plan their work in more detail and enables them to make realistic estimates about what resources they have. This is, in turn, essential for designers who want to create effective designs that will meet the needs of their customers. This perspective provides an understanding of what the design process really involves and allows the designer to make informed decisions about his work.