Top of the designer’s list? More time.

If you gave any designer in our industry a magic lamp and granted them one wish to help them finish a project, it would undoubtedly be more time. Time is one of the most critical factors in every project, and it’s a continuous struggle to manage tight deadlines and consistently stay creative. In product and packaging design particularly, this has become an accepted way of working and many would say it is just the nature of the beast. With so many key stakeholders involved in the design process—from the design team through to management, marketers and R&D representatives from the brand itself—the proportion of time dedicated to creativity is frequently sacrificed to make way for the inevitable multitude of changes. 

However, this is not a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. In reality, in such a fiercely competitive environment, the most successful product designs are born from this highly coordinated approach that combines the designer’s creativity with expertise and input from stakeholders across the board. Winning back time for designers would be counterproductive if it involved overhauling the entire process. It has to be about bringing more efficiency to the process with a refreshed and streamlined workflow. Fundamentally, every designer wants to focus their day-to-day efforts on creativity and not get bogged down with a raft of laborious changes.

Design Foundry

The current industry trends also have a significant impact on the entire process and bring further time pressures for designers. Creating versions of a master design is a manual, time-consuming process and in today’s global marketplace we don’t have the luxury of creating standalone designs. Every designer now has to come up with an array of different options that can be configurable and localized, with less turnaround time. Trends such as high levels of customization also pose a challenge to designers who find it difficult to visualize all of the options and assets.  

Freeing up time and addressing these issues inevitably requires a rethink of technology with applications capable of helping designers to be more responsive, work faster and spend more time on the creative process. Workflows can be made more efficient—particularly in the product and packaging market—by allowing designers to quickly iterate on looks, explore different color combinations, and save and manage any number of variations, without re-rendering. By introducing a level of automation that allows more exploration and iteration, designers can make changes on the fly, bringing obvious time-saving benefits across the entire process.

Design Experience Foundry

Clearly, another fundamental requirement would be to introduce the concept of a ‘master’ set of assets to which changes can be made, not only by the designer themselves, but also by all of the necessary stakeholders involved in the project. This could yield significant efficiencies across the whole process, but particularly when multiple variants share common assets—for example a country-specific set—ensuring that the updated assets change in all the variants within which they exist.

Improving processes through the latest interfaces and applications is a natural step for design businesses looking to refine their workflow and create more efficient work environments. Traditional workflows need to be brought in line with the modern challenges, and perhaps a shift in attitude away from “well, this is the way things have always been done”. We can create more time to be creative, and it doesn’t need a genie with a lamp to achieve it.

Our powerful and flexible 3D modeling, texturing and rendering toolset , Modo, enables many of the time saving efficiencies detailed in this article.

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