Concept Design: What It Is and Why It Matters

An excellent design concept is the foundation of good design.

Your concept is the lead way, framework, and direction to solving a problem and making design decisions.

It’s your project’s DNA.


What is concept design?

It’s the idea, thinking, logic, and reasoning behind your design. A concept design models, forms, and shapes the implementation of a new approach, idea or abstraction.

This design stage is creative and confirms product requirements. It’s typical of models, illustrations or drawings.

According to FORA’s, a Danish agency, ‘Concept Design – How to Solve the Complex Challenges of Our Time’ publication, concept design is the solution to a problem that’s yet to be solved or has been solved unsatisfactorily.

An ‘outstanding concept’ is the key to developing a popular or famous design. Design concepts can either be verbal or visual or both.

The words used to describe a concept include its verbal aspects while visual aspects often comprise a particular color scheme or image. Concrete visual concepts lean towards sending messages. It’s also drawn from verbal concepts.

From an engineering perspective, according to a study published on science direct, it’s an industrial production or manufacturing facility’s hypothetical design.

Concept design takes place before the actual design phase but after the following stages:

  • Feasibility studies
  • Appraisals of options
  • Preparing project briefs

The design concept includes ‘scheme design’. The stage of designing concepts include developing the following:

  • A strategy for planning
  • The actual design concept or idea
  • A cost plan
  • Outline specifications
  • Accommodation of schedules
  • A strategy for phasing out and programmer
  • Options for procurement
  • Construction logistics and buildability

Concept design also involves designing the following:

Concept design converges experiences, interactions, strategies, and processes. It’s the meeting point of knowledge, people, services, products, profitability, and processes with endless possibilities and vision.

Every design concept is represented on the canvas as a unique color.

Whether you’re an artist, a planner, a graphic designer, architect, or product designer, the success of your designs depend on your design concept.

Here’re four benefits of this stage of design you should know.

4 Importance of Concept Design in the Design Process

  1. Solves Big, Complex Problems

Concept design solves complex problems or puzzles. Design projects have objectives and goals that define the success of any given project.

Every project has a list of wants and needs to be met. With an estimated timeline, a budget and a site, the requirements of a project are met. Concept design offers all these requirements.

  • It’s the Foundation or Pillar of a Project.

A concept design is the DNA of your project. It gives a general or big picture of the project’s idea. Ranging from a schematic design from the initial phase of design to construction or the actual design stage, it indicates the general design intent.

Design concept offers direction for all members of a project team.

A cohesive and unified design concept is the key to easier decision-making in the future of a project. A well-thought-out concept design summarizes a project. And, it saves you thinking later because project requirements and major decisions are already met.

What’s left to do later is following the laid out plan. Nail down your design concept and follow it to minimize the risk of developing a project that lacks consistency and flow.

  • It Ensures Customer Needs are Met

Customer needs are met at the conceptual design stage. The performance of existing products and competitive offerings are reviewed to ensure the concept offers an improved solution to an existing problem.

According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, concept designs that don’t meet the needs of customers, hence not ideal for a commercial future, must be halted.

  • Allows for a Practical Feasibility of Creating Different Concepts

As a designer, you must consider the practical feasibility of creating multiple concepts. Compare the approximated costs of creating, manufacturing and promoting the end product with its likely value to customers and the price it can attain.

Technical feasibility ensures that you can create and manufacture the product using existing resources and skills. Is it feasible to finish the design project within a specified timeline? The feasible timeline should give you enough time for a competitive advantage.

  • Helps Determine a Project’s Technical Stretch

According to the Synthesis Engineering Services, concept design can help you determine your project’s technical stretch.

Do you have to invent something new for the design concept to work? Can the technology you have to meet all the performance objectives or goals of your concept?

If you don’t have the necessary technology, developing new ones could delay your entire design project. Find alternative technologies you can still use to deliver similar outcomes.

For instance, if a customer orders a coffee table, you may need specific tools for your woodworking job. Invest in versatile, compact and highly portable woodworking tools you can use to achieve your project goals.

However, if you’re working on a unique project, buying a new planer may not be financially viable for your business. In such a case, consider finding an alternative tool in your toolbox that can still help you achieve the same results.

  • Supports the Determination of Design Costs

A high portion of design costs, according to a PTC (a design software company) survey, are determined during the phase of conceptual design.

About 61% of the total costs of running a design project are committed to the concept design phase. 71% of the total costs are determined at the end of the conceptual design stage.

Therefore, smart decisions are required during this phase to prevent wastage of money committed prior to the commencement of detailed design or development.

Other benefits of concept design include:

  • It’s the foundation of the design and engineering process and thus determines its success
  • It offers clarity of a product’s potential functionality and its intended application or use
  • Prevents problems that may arise later on during the design phase
  • Helps develop a clear user interface for easy interpretation and understanding
  • Gives a description of various user roles and detailed requirements for a better understanding of a project
  • Allows you to consider current materials and trends, including the views of users
  • Reduces the costs and time that goes into achieving project results
  • Streamlines the design process to eliminate repetitive tasks

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