Industrial Design Specialist: A Day in the Life at Mako Design

A Day in the Life of an Industrial Designer: Featuring Mako Design’s Evan Hughes

Another “May the 4th” has come and gone. Every year, Star Wars fans look forward to this day to relive the stories of the rebellious Han Solo, the pragmatic Princess Leia, and the other heroes from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. But did you ever hear the legend of Evan Hughes, our Industrial Design Specialist? It’s not a story the Jedi would tell you.

For he’s led the design on minimalistic yet sophisticated projects including the towering Expo Lander kiosk and the behemoth ZaiTruck space vehicle adorned in massive white plating that would blend in perfectly, rolling in unison next to a battalion of Stormtroopers.

So it might surprise you that his industrial design philosophy is deeply rooted in nature. Whether it’s the minute, almost invisible venations on a leaf to the chaotic brilliance of the ocean, he finds inspiration in naturally hidden patterns of our environments. And through his surroundings is where he derives his elegant and simply designed solutions.

Evan Hughes, a Industrial Design Specialist at Mako Design + Invent.

Hello there, Evan Hughes

Industrial design specialists, at their core, design products, devices, appliances, and various other objects. They play a key role in the product development process, even beyond the user experience. They’re often involved in the entire product’s life-cycle from conception all the way to production. Thus, the very best of them know how to keep their head on a swivel as they balance the functionality, aesthetics, and manufacturability of a product. “Outside of the usual meetings, I’ll work on up to three projects a day and ideally ones that are in different phases if possible,” Evan states.

Depending on the development phase, he may work on a research brief, concept sketches, 2D illustrations, 3D modeling, or prototyping. Evan continues, “A simple product life-cycle might include the following phases. First, the designer will develop a brief and do some research into the industry and market. Second, they’ll ideate and develop a concept the client approves. Third, the concept will then be refined through an iterative process leading to a final design. Lastly, the final design will then be detailed and refined into a manufacturable product which then can be prototyped.”

Research, Sketching, and 2D Graphic Industrial Design Phases

“I am likely to be sketching most days,” he starts off. “This will be for the initial concept sketch phase to work towards an MVP. I will however also do quite a lot of sketching when it comes to resolving details in a design, which most often involves sketching a lot of different variations of the same detail while also doing research to spark some new ideas.” Within our presentations, mock-ups, and other deliverables for our clients, our industrial design specialists communicate ideas, mechanisms, material choices, colors, design philosophies, and other elements through their sketches or other 2D graphics. Clear visual aids help us explain complex electrical and mechanical concepts such as force, tolerances, and stress to our clients.

3D Modelling Phases

At Mako Design, we use Solidworks for all of our 3D design needs. This software allows industrial design specialists to create precisely measured 3D designs called CAD files. “Three-dimensional modeling is another dominant aspect of my daily activities and goes hand in hand with sketching,” says Evan, “When I start the 3D modeling process it’s mainly to get a rough scale and form of the product based on sketches. As the product development process continues, 3D modeling becomes more dominant in the process and becomes much more complex.” 

Prototyping & Production Phases

“Prototyping is most often the best part of the design process as you get to see the design come to life. It also provides an opportunity to step away from the laptop screen and get your hands a bit dirty,” Evan reveals. Our many industrial design specialists leverage rapid, iterative, or other prototyping techniques to create a functional version of the project. They may also 3D print the prototypes, assemble the parts of a prototype, or even make the parts of the prototype themselves. “Love going down the route of making the prototype from scratch. These are generally lo-fi MVPs used to test the form, shape, ergonomics, and other factors.” As we near the end of the prototyping phase, we focus more on ensuring the project is production-ready. As Evan explains, “this will also involve some back-and-forth communication with manufacturers and suppliers to finalize materials, finishes, and colors.

Evan Hughes working on the space truck.

One Fact Not Commonly Known about Industrial Design

“CMF, which stands for color, material, and finish, is so important in design, require industrial design specialists to research materials (old and new), find and select the ideal finishes as well as colors or patterns.” shares Evan. “Different colors appear differently on different materials, as well as on different textures. We can simulate colors in the renderings we do in Keyshot, however, this is not completely accurate. It’s why we rely on sample books and color swatches to find the right color and texture combination.”

Do you think you have what it takes to be a professional in CMF design? We’ll you’re in luck! Evan left us with this great test to determine your color IQ. Give a shot and let us know how you did in the comments below!

Funnily enough, this is probably the only test in your life when receiving a zero is a perfect score.

MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to small businesses, startups, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop-shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, patent referral, prototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. Also, our founder Kevin Mako hosts The Product Startup Podcast, the industry’s leading hardware podcast. Check it out for tips, interviews, and best practices for hardware startups, inventors, and product developers. Feel free to Contact Us anytime for help with your project.

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