June 30, 2018
Design Thinking has been in vogue for quite some time since it became mainstream in 2010. The term was mainly popularized by a company called IDEO, which applied the principles of design thinking to develop radically innovative products that were wildly successful.
You’re about to recognize their products – from the Apple Mouse to the now famous shopping cart that allows housewives to carry their babies around. The principles of design thinking are now being applied to a variety of industries, and the impact has been overwhelmingly positive.
This post looks at how the wholesale jewelry business can utilize the best practices of design thinking.
This is the heart of design thinking, and is the main reason why so many of the products of IDEO have taken off. The designers at IDEO have always emphasized Form being the main guiding star for their constructions. Form ensures that the product is usually designed from the perspective of a customer, and that the customer’s comfort and usability are of paramount importance.
For wholesale jewelers this means using products that cater to customers first and are focused on stylish shapes coupled with ease of use.
The second principle from design thinking is Function. Function is heavily oriented towards usability and flexibility. The ease of use and access are critical, and products that lack these features inevitably end up providing bad customer experiences. The function aspect of design thinking is seen in a variety of products from the apple mouse to the IDEO chair that has optimized ergonomics worldwide.
For wholesale jewelers, function could be derived from designing products that are easy to use and are not uncomfortable for consumers.
Design thinking focuses heavily on Simplicity, minimalism, and negative space – all of which play a large role in most of their product designs.
The importance of simplicity cannot be stressed enough. A lot of product designers are of the opinion that complexity necessarily equals quality…but when it comes to jewelry that is not necessarily the case. Simple and elegant designs trump gauche and unwieldy ones, and the major utility of simple designs come from doing a lot with little.
Many designs overcompensate, and consumers end up disliking the abundance of features packed into a single piece.
Design Thinking prides itself on creating products that are classy and retain their charm through the ages. A lot of jewelry designs that come out these days look as if they are mass produced or – even worse – run of the mill.
The critical aspect of elegant design is that it combines the first three principles of form, function and simplicity to deliver a radical approach to creative styles that will be original and appealing to the consumer.
Elegant designs are a cornerstone of trending fashion styles, and it is important for wholesale jewelry businesses to keep an eye on the elegance that always lurks behind a best-selling design.
If the first four principles serve as components to a larger design, aesthetic is the crucial fifth part of the overall system. Having an aesthetic always differentiates run of the mill designs from the ones that manage to strike a chord or set a trend.
An aesthetic could vary based on the target market. As such, for design thinkers it is crucial to first identify what the market wants and then deliver products that meet those expectations.
Having an aesthetic helps the brand to carve its own unique symbol amidst the cacophony of options.
The application of design thinking principles to jewelry designs is another matter altogether, and in this section we will explore the aspects of design thinking that can be applied to jewelry wholesalers.
A good starting point for jewelry designers would be to observe trends in the industry – from the fashions being touted at major shows to those at smaller artisanal circuits. It is a very good practice for wholesalers to spot the latest trends and jump on the bandwagon before the competitors.
With a variety of options available today for consumers, the faster businesses differentiate and maintain their specificity in the market the better. Design Thinking runs on observing trends before they pick up, and for jewelry businesses this aspect is crucial if they aspire to maintain their unique footprint in the market.
Another important attribute for wholesale jewelry dealers is to be open to ideas that can come from a variety of spaces – be it from the leading designers of the day to minor catalogs. Openness to ideas invites radical innovation and tinkering, which are major factors in what makes certain jewelry brands stand out from the rest.
The important thing about being open to ideas is to allow all designs to come through unfiltered, and to incorporate all designs in the initial stage without discarding any. This part of design thinking is more commonly known as Brainstorming, and is used in almost all ideation sessions.
Jewelry wholesalers should also engage in prototypes, as it is a key piece of the design thinking strategy to ensure that prototypes are created before they are implemented in the market. Prototyping can tip you off about potential pitfalls in the design stage itself. The product can also be easily fixed if at a later stage its flaws develop into major issues that could harm the business.
Design thinking helps jewelry businesses ensure that their prototypes are fail proof and provide value. There are plenty of design prototypes that wholesale jewelers can pick up before pushing their products to the market.
Wholesale designers should always be on the lookout for the possibility of innovation in design and incorporate creativity into their product whenever necessary. A plethora of interesting designs have sprung up over the years and this feature that has enabled new styles to come into fashion.
Although not all ideas would be feasible, it is nevertheless important to keep an open mind and test most prototypes in the market to see how they play out…rather than cancelling designs outright.
What visual message is the jewelry delivering? The design principles include balance, proportion, contrast, unity, harmony, movement and emphasis. These principles need to be in lockstep for the overall design to have a solid finish.
Balance: Gauche and minimalism are usually the two extremes and an important middle is balance…which is rarely retained in most designs. Balance can often be missed in the strive to provide the best design solutions and is the most important of all the seven principles.
Proportion: the second principle is proportion. If balance brings a sense of scale to a design, proportion retains the frame of the design. Often, outsized jewelry will not be ideal and sometimes smaller jewelry sizes can be equally useless in form and function. While maintaining an overall sense of proportion leads to great design, it can only go hand in hand with a sense of great balance.
Contrast: Swarovski is a master of this aesthetic, with designs that are elegant and dazzling in their intricacy. Contrasting styles are only now being picked up by many other designers and the trend of incorporating everyday objects to come up with great jewelry designs is on the rise.
Unity: A combination of the first four principles, unity is ultimately what an aesthetic is all about. A harmonious synergy from the locking together of disparate elements. Many jewelry designs lack a unified overall style, which takes away much from the dazzle. The key is to make sure that unity does not come at the cost of an incoherent design.
Harmony: The fifth principle derives from unity, and harmony ensures that the overall design does not suffer from overcompensation of one principle and short shrift in another. Harmonious designs are often lacking in most jewelry pieces, and if a harmony has been struck it means the rest of the principles have been maintained.
Movement: How the jewelry is carried around is just as important as how it is designed. Movement is an element as critical to the overall look as unity, contrast, harmony and proportion.
Emphasis: The seventh principle of emphasis is useful for highlighting one particular component among all the components.
So start applying these principles today and become a trailblazer when it comes to integrating design thinking with your jewelry business!