Idea, Development, Design: The Magic of the Process

Looking back at the diverse portfolios of the product designers who reached the final stage of the Rothschild Design Award, we delved into the intricacies of their creative and developmental processes.

Digital tools empower product designers to expedite their processes, swiftly translating unstructured ideas into tangible 3D models. Nevertheless, for many designers, hand-drawn sketches remain an indispensable step. During the Rothschild Award judgment process, we were privileged to peer behind the curtain and peruse sketchbooks teeming with the evolution of object forms, involving dozens, and at times hundreds, of preliminary drawings.

“A cube and a sign – produce a language,” writes Pini Leibovich about a block text system, a bookcase constructed of a replicated autonomous unit, a hollow block. “The cube and the sign are the basic elements of a closed mathematical structure.” Just like the story behind the a piece of furniture, the sketchbook pages are filled with the same fundamental duplicated elements, large and small, rotating around an axis to create a remarkable graphic language where the aggregate transcends the sum of its parts.

Roee Magdassi designed a chair around a central element that serves as the linchpin for both the backrest and the seat. The development process of this chair, aptly named “anchor,” begins with dissecting the archetype and moves on to scrutinizing the proportions between the anchor component and other elements.
The initial sketches of a sizable 3D printer, designed by Alex Padwa, accurately mirror the thoughtful considerations of the design team: “Is this a product? Is it architecture? Is it equipment or a sculpture?” The collection of brisk lines on the page examines and addresses distinct aspects of the machine, much like a camera zooms in on its subjects.
Since time immemorial, humanity has looked to the natural world as a source of wisdom and innovation. Biomimicry is a practice that scrutinizes and emulates strategies derived from nature to tackle design problems encountered by humans. In the field of design, this approach encompasses a broad spectrum of nature-inspired practices, ranging from seeking inspiration in natural forms and materials, driven by a yearning to recapture the simplicity inherent in the natural world, to the study of complex mechanisms and their adaptation to technologies and products for the benefit of humanity.

We revisited the diverse portfolios of product designers who reached the final stage and discovered the profound presence of nature and its significance for their creative and developmental processes.
Ido Baruchin explored the natural systems in winged creatures while conceptualizing the M1 drone. This innovative drone played a pivotal role in a UNICEF project aimed at transporting blood samples in Malawi, Africa. “Weight is a central consideration in the design of flying devices,” he says. “We inspected the bone structure of birds, including pigeon skeletons, to optimize weight through the integration of hollow spaces.”

Daniel Pearlman replicated the iconic silhouette of a parrot’s tail, drawing inspiration for the creation of a minimalist lighting fixture. Unlike the vibrant plumage of wild parrots, Pearlman's PARROT lamp is a study in simplicity, crafted from aluminum and adorned with clean, unembellished lines.
Naama Agassi chose to delve into rocks rather than animals, developing a composite substance that faithfully replicates the natural qualities of stone and marble. Her innovative material emerged through the adaptation of the traditional Italian technique known as scagliola, used in the past in the sculpting and ornamentation of walls and columns. Diverging from the conventional approach that meticulously imitates the appearance of natural stone, Agassi’s work accentuates the artificial characteristics through skillful color contrasts.
Much like in human relationships, the most captivating and intricate moments in the design process occur at the juncture of two materials or components. It could be love at first sight; two materials meet, one accommodates the other, and synergy emerges.
In other instances, the union of two stubborn materials necessitates the use of robust adhesives to discreetly bind them together. Occasionally, a third material, acting as a dispassionate intermediary – a button, a screw, a rivet, or a clasp – steps in to mediate between the two. This meeting point can evolve into an aesthetic detail, enhancing the design while introducing a tapestry of colors and textures to the object.

For example, Naama Steinbock and Idan Friedman of Reddish Studio employed a new graphic language inspired by traditional carpentry and veneer inlay. Their work, “Balancing Art,” takes the iconicity of feathers and translates it into another organic material, wood veneer. The wooden feathers are connected using brass connectors reminiscent of carpentry hinges and wild bird wing systems. This mobile, along with its material choices, strike a balance between the natural, the traditional, and the simulated.

Gilli Kuchik and Ran Amitai (Kuchik Amitai Studio) sought to design an elegant and well-crafted partition for public spaces that would also be easy to transport and assemble. “Waves,” their brainchild, drew inspiration from a humble napkin holder. This straightforward yet sturdy item stabilizes a delicate sheet. They opted for a corrugated polycarbonate sheet, originally designed for roofing and exterior construction, due to its transparency, lightness, and ability to mimic a suspended curtain. “In addition to its structural merits, the wavelike element imparts a sense of transparent air that filters the space behind it, creating a visually pleasing quality,” Kuchik and Amitai explain. This technical versatility enables the design of standard connectors and various attachment methods, thereby producing an array of shapes that leverage the material’s characteristics and limitations.