Pinterest for Designers


Pinterest, the image-based social network, is not exclusively for those of the DIY and crafting variety. I have found that the benefits of using Pinterest are often overlooked in a professional design setting. Pinterest is an invaluable tool in my designer toolbox! Whether or not you are already using Pinterest, read through these 3 tips on how to optimize your pinning for your design process.

  1. Download the Pinterest browser button
    Adding the Pinterest button to your browser’s toolbar is a quick way to positively influence your pinning habits. For people that do not usually go on Pinterest for design inspiration, this can be a nice middle ground; you benefit from the same visual bookmarking tools while still roaming through your other favorite sources for inspiration.
  2. Pin to a secret board
    If you are searching for inspiration on a project at work, you most likely will not want your pins broadcasted to the masses. Enter the Secret Pinterest Board. This feature enables you to make any new board a secret, which opens up the opportunity to utilize the bookmarking tool sans the public broadcasting. Simply put, any activity within your secret boards will not be published. Another great feature of secret boards is that you can invite others - co-workers, for example - to collaborate with you, whilst maintaining the boards secrecy. Warning: once a board is made public, it cannot be switched to private.
  3. Don't overlook the benefits of a description
    It is very easy spend hours scouring the internet for product inspiration. A designer might spend quality time searching for innovative applications for details like product handles or buttons. Between the action of discovering an image and pinning it to a board, there is a spark, a meaning behind choosing to pin that particular image for that particular product search. I would advise you to make a note of your reasoning in the pin description field. This is especially useful when you are sharing your board with teammates; a small detail that was very striking to you may be overlooked by others. It is also a great reference for yourself when you begin the process of looking through your pins and digesting your findings. Note: I find this tip to be most relevant on secret boards. For public pins, consider using detailed and keyword-rich descriptions like buffer recommends.


    Lindsay Schultz
    Researcher at CHOi Design Inc.

    History of Industrial Design

    When looking for a clear picture of the History of Industrial Design, I found a lot of nuggets of information, but never a full picture. I have put together the information I had collected from these many sites, creating a more cohesive timeline.

    The Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain, introduced a shift to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories and mass production.

    During the Great Exhibition held in Britain, Europe was introduced to America’s developments of modern industrial mass production and functionalism.

    The Practical Draughtsman's Book of Industrial Design by Jacques-Eugène Armengaud was printed. The Subtitle states that it wants to offer “complete course of mechanical, engineering, and architectural drawing.”

    Early 1900s
    Concepts such as efficiency, standardization and functionality became popular.

    Deutscher Werkbund, focused on the integration of traditional crafts and industrial mass-produced techniques, was founded. (Precursor to Bauhaus)

    After World War 1, the USA experienced rapid technological growth and industrial development.

    The first use of the term "industrial design" is attributed to the New Zealand designer Joseph Claude Sinel.

    Industrial Designers start mass-producing goods like automobiles, trains and electrical appliances.

    Walter Dorwin Teague created the first design offices.

    The Great Depression forces industrial designers to make their production methods more efficient and cost effective.

    Herbert Read proclaimed the first and the most important principle of industrial design: A factory should conform to the personality of an artist but not vice versa.

    Robert Lepper helped establish one of the country’s first industrial design degree programs at Carnegie Institute of Technology.

    The idolization of technology, progress and modernity was a represented and explored through design techniques such as Streamlining (styling a form to express speed and movement).

    Populuxe (combination of popular and luxury) was coined by Thomas Hine to express the consumer culture and aesthetic popular during this period in the United States.

    A product design section was established at Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., said to be the first in-house design organization in Japan. This was created by Konosuke Matsushita on his return to Japan following a visit to the United States.

    When the American Society of Industrial Design (ASID merged with the Industrial Designers Institute and the Industrial Design Education Association to form the IDSA.   

    Post-modernist movement embraced the influence of color and experience. Robert Venturi is known for coining the term “Less is a bore”, a post-modernist response to Mies van der Rohe’s “Less is more”.

    Advances in computing and the rise of the Internet helps the Industrial Design profession push forward.

    The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) created the Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI). Shortly after, the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) emerged as a recognized sub-discipline of computer science.

    The Professional Practice Committee presented a updated definition of industrial design: "Industrial Design is a strategic problem-solving process that drives innovation, builds business success and leads to a better quality of life through innovative products, systems, services and experiences." 

    Lindsay Schultz
    Researcher at CHOi Design Inc.

    Types of Prototypes

    types of prototypes

    CHOi Design utilizes prototypes at each stage of the design process. As defined by wikipedia, A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from. Another way to look at characterizing a prototype is to think of it as a portrayal of a design idea.

    In the article, What do Prototypes Prototype?, Stephanie Houde and Charles Hill expand on their observations that the term “prototype” has different meanings to different disciplines. Thus a prototype can exist in many different forms, some looking market ready while others simple foam or clay forms. No matter what the appearances may suggest, each of these prototypes has an important purpose and may prove to be pivotal in a product’s success.

    To stay consistent with the terminology, as defined by Houde and Hill, I will use artifact in reference to the object or system being designed. I will also apply the 3 aspects they defined as the dimensions of a prototype: role (the function served for a user), look and feel (sensory experience), and Implementation (functional components). Every prototype helps a designer interpret and iterate on at least one of these dimensions.

    As we have established that there are numerous different types of prototypes for the many industries and designers, I want to highlight some of the prototype forms that Industrial Designers most often put to use.

    While not a 3D model, Storyboards are great prototypes for exploring the “Role” dimension. Often illustrating a user’s interaction with the artifact, a storyboard is a great tool for focusing attention on the identify of the artifact within an environment and the target role it serves the user. The appearance or details of the artifact within these storyboards is not important, all that is necessary is for the general form to exist within the situation you are illustrating.

    Visual Prototype
    This type of prototype serves to explore the “look and feel” dimension. Having the appearance of the artifact, designers can use these models to examine shape and size. While it will have the physical representation of the artifact, these models are rarely functional. Sometimes referred to as appearance models or mock-ups, it can be beneficial to both designers and their clients to see a design concept in it’s physical form.

    Proof-of-Concept prototypes explore the “Implementation” dimension. This form of model will demonstrate how the product works, providing functional validation. This will not be a perfect and pretty model; components will often be chosen based on price and accessibility, utilizing simple fabrication to communicate the artifacts potential.

    Presentation Prototype
    A presentation prototype explores the look and feel as well as the implementation dimension. This model is one of the closest representations of the final artifact; it will often be made from production grade or closely comparable materials and include the artifact's functionality, albeit a mix of bespoke and ‘off-the-shelf’ components. Presentation prototypes are often used for promotional purposes, to show product viability prior to manufacturing, and to help designers license their artifacts to manufactures.

    For further information on the types of prototypes, I recommend reading the article I referenced at the beginning of this post: What do Prototypes Prototype?, by Stephanie House and Charles Hill.

    Lindsay Schultz
    Researcher at CHOi Design Inc.

    2017 International Home + Housewares Show: Trends and Discoveries

    Now that we all have had some time to recuperate after an amazing and exhausting 4 days at the 2017 International Home and Housewares Show, I wanted to share a few of our findings here at CHOi Design. First of all, WOW! We saw some really amazing products, inspiring in both form and function. For this article I am going to focus on the Wired + Well expo, which featured kitchen, household and personal care electronics. 

    Have you ever heard of a Vacuum Blender? I hadn’t either! According to Kuvings, the vacuum blender removes air from the container prior to the start of the blending process, maximizing the nutritional value of the beverage. And while it isn’t a vacuum, I was drawn to the auto blend feature that automatically stops blending when the food has reached the optimal amount of blending.

    Kuvings Vacuum Blender

    image credit:

    My friends and family laughed as I recounted the interesting products I saw at the show. Why would that be funny? Because I am a TERRIBLE cook! My saving grace so far has been cooking blogs with simple recipes and LOTS of pictures. This is precisely why I was so excited about this next discovery: the Hestan Cue. This is a smart cooking system that integrates an induction burner, recipe app and smart cookware, which all work together through Bluetooth technology to make your cooking experience fool proof. Worrying about timing and temperature is no longer a concern, since the Hestan Cue will control this for you. 

    Hestan Cue Precision Cooker

    image credit: Jenny McGrath / Digital Trends

    There was an abundance of exhibitors showcasing their one-pot cookers. Stemming from the classic slow cookers, these multi cookers increase functionality by integrating features for pressure cooking, slow cook, steam, brown and saute. If you want to know a bit more about individual models from the show, take a look at this multicooker article from

    Yedi 7 In 1 Mult Functional Pressure Cooker
    Fagor Multi Cooker

    (left) image credit: / Kori Perten (right) image credit:

    Coffee Coffee Coffee! Digital Trends created a roundup of cool coffee devices from the show that demonstrates this trend very well.

    Dash Rapid Cold Brew Coffee Maker

    image credit: Jenny McGrath / Digital Trends

    I’ve kept to a kitchen theme today, but there were so many other amazing innovative products being displayed at the show. Make sure to take a look at the links I’ve included in the article for more Insights on the show!

    Lindsay Schultz
    Researcher at CHOi Design Inc.

    UX vs. UI Designers: who does what?

    Ux vs UI Graphic

    While UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) go hand-in-hand for a successful product, the roles of the two design disciplines are very different. Don Norman, the cognitive scientist that coined the term UX in the early 1990’s, wrote a more recent article in which he highlights the blurred lines and interdependence between these fields:

    “True user experience goes far beyond giving customers what they say they want, or providing checklist features. In order to achieve high-quality user experience in a company's offerings there must be a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design.”

    That being said, there are distinct responsibilities and expertise involved that distinguish one profession from the other.  UX designers focus on how the product feels. They approach a project in an analytical manner, the main concern being that the product logically flows through each point in an interaction. To achieve this outcome, UX designers utilize user research, personas, usability testing, wireframes, and information architecture.

    UI designers are responsible for creating a graphic layout that visually communicates the path created by a UX designer. Color, typography, interactive element placement, and brand language are all critical components to UI designers, but there is also involvement with developers and code.

    The roles of the UX and UI designer can vary from place to place, even overlapping in some instances to create a “hybrid” UX/UI role. The responsibilities of these disciplines are also found under different titles; for example, the term “web designer” is often used define UI designers that can code. Rule of thumb, don’t decide on a designer by their title, but rather by the compatibility of their skills and a projects needs.

    CHOi Design