According to Merriam Webster, a “concept” is an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances. Concept design can therefore be viewed as a design idea with a main theme.
What Is Concept Design?
In many instances concept design is a stage of product development preceding the “detailed design” stage. In this case, it is used to establish a product’s form, illustrate its function and guide engineering stages in creating a prototype. The concept is demonstrated visually with all information and instructions to create a real thing.
Concepts don’t always result to an actual product. Some are abandoned as more suitable ones are adopted for prototyping, while others are never intended to lead to a real product from the start. Sometimes designers explore their creativity without considering the prospects of their designs being manufactured. Concept design stretches reality to tell engaging stories through experimentation with sketching techniques that enrich our daily life and challenge our senses beyond the imaginable.
It is therefore clear that concept design is an abstract approach that cuts through both reality and fantasy in application, as it is more of a thought process rather than a physical implementation technique.
In some cases, creations of concept design evolve from fantasy to reality. Futuristic design is a classical illustration of this phenomenon. Concept designers – also called “visual futurists” come up with designs that are neither in nor intended to be in the market yet, but which aim to inspire product evolution and growth. Some are closer to being produced than others, especially where a big company is involved.
Sci-fi and the action movie industry is one of the frontiers where the extreme applications of concept design in both the reality and fantasy have been shown. Product placement and reverse placement have been widely used in some famous sci-fi movies.
Product placement is an advertising strategy where a branded product is featured in a fictional work like a movie before its launch. There are other products portrayed as people know them or with some modifications to attain a breakthrough stature while remaining recognizable. The Delorean DMC-12 is an example. Designed to be the used as the time machine for the Back to the Future trilogy by Marty Mc Fly and ‘Doc’ Brown, the DMC-12 rose in popularity and got back to production in 2008, thanks to the cult-like following of the movies.
Reverse placement is an attempt to create a product resembling that depicted in a work of fiction. Nike – upon the request of fans released the Nike Hyperdunk 2015, the sneakers Marty Mac Fly wore in the Mc Fly 2015 project. For the previous 20 years the sneakers were just a concept design in movies.
In conclusion, concept design is an abstract sub-set of the wide discipline of design. It does not lead to a tangible product that you can buy, but stimulating ideas that prompt creativity. When the result of the design is an imaginary creation, then it qualifies to be a fantasy. In the real world, concept design is only a preliminary stage in the product development process, and is subject to modification as required by the results of prototyping. Hence, concept design is never conclusive in the creation of a real object.
- Main Image Source: Ink Stool by Arch. Rita Rijillo for Crjos Design