Well your academic year is well underway – and if you are in your second year your Major Project should be in full flow. If you are in your first year of studying for your Design Technology IB course – it may seem distant but you may already be worrying about what you will do for your Major Project and how you will succeed.

Often a question students ask is how do you find and start thinking about what to do? How do you find ‘constructive discontent’ regarding a specific design project.

I always find that it is important to not only be inspired, as my last two posts demonstrate, but that you should not be afraid of failure? What I mean about this is the Major Project and product or idea you produce – may not succeed and this will be absolutely okay. Why? Because the process you will go through is simply NOT EASY for anyone, and that even the best designers may fail.

The process of designing and producing a successful product can take years and many many prototypes and even then may not be successful. The following three designs I have chosen as examples of great design that may fail, has failed or has struggled to succeed – each is designed to to improve the opportunities and lives of people in the third world in some way or other. Have a look below to see these three projects which indicate that however good the design idea, however clever the technology, however important the designer – some designs are often very difficult to get from prototype through to successful product : –

The Slingshot – Ten Years and Counting…


This is an amazing device that purifies water using a distillation method to clean any water placed into it. However it has taken 10 years of development – and only when the designer Dean Kamen managed to persuade a multinational company Coca Cola with excellent distribution networks to support and sponsor the device has it started to gain success.  Anyway worth checking out the film – from the Focus Forward Festival.

Kit Yamoyo – Kit of Life medicine pack – Abandoned even though a great idea…

Although this has similarities in that the designer as above utilised the distribution network of a multinational – Coca Cola. And the design in its way is just as innovative – however the idea of utilising existing system for packaging and distributing the kit was deemed not to be effective and so they are already redesigning the product to enable different distribution.

Unifold – Printable and Foldable Shoes


Your students may be surprised at this innovative idea – simply because to many of them the thought that there is a shortage of shoes in the world would seem unbelievable to them. The innovation is not in the aesthetics of the design – but in the clever idea of taking the actual manufacturing complexities out of shoe design. Just one process and one material – and then these shoes could be manufactured and sent flat around the word. This is a prototype unlike the above two ideas – as it is still at the prototype phase.

So which design do you think failed, which may fail and which has struggled to succeed?  I hope reviewing these three projects independently or with your teacher can show that the most important thing to do is ‘take-risks’ with your design projects and HAVE A GO!