Think HBR

Why we make every day

Josh Jeffress
Design Anthology
‘Making’ is often associated with handwork, craft, weekend markets, bearded hipsters and recycled pallet furniture. And it is all of those thing. Making is exciting because, through the process, we learn about how things work, how to build them, how to do it better. Most importantly, we gain deep insights into the people that use the things we make.
As a product designer, I love getting my hands dirty making things in our workshop. The process accelerates my learning and empowers me to design a better product more quickly.
Making a simple model using foam, cardboard, masking tape, timber offcuts and screws reveals significantly more information than a 3D model will. It often informs subsequent 3D modelling processes. That allows me to make more advanced test rigs and prototypes. In design, we repeat this process of making, learning, integrating the results until we get the design of the object right.
‘Making’ is not just a pretty activity to be enjoyed with a coffee in the park on the weekend (although that’s nice too). It is, in fact, a critical part of the process of bringing any product to market. An excellent example of this process is the Fleet Logic product system story. Hailing from Newcastle, The Net GPS approached us to help them design the Fleet Logic product family. These products provide tamper-resistant vehicle tracking, log booking, critical vehicle stat tracking and analysis for logistics and taxis.
Far from terrariums and cacti in concrete pots, one of the most important parts of our design process was making mock-ups of the six products that make up this family. We needed to work out how best to house a range of electronic components and hardware inside enclosures that would be tamper-resistant. This gave us three really good reasons to make them:
1. to work out whether all the components would fit inside,
2. to work out how the manufacturer would assemble all the components inside the object, and
3. to work out how to make the products difficult to get into and tamper with
When was the last time you tried to make something that is easy to build and really, really hard to break into? It was an awesome design challenge. And one that we could only solve by holding physical objects, made objects, in our hands and working out what a person could access, what they see, how we could position anti-tamper fasteners and the like.
And that’s why we make things every day. To work stuff out.
Being part of the Greater Hunter Makers Festival is an exciting opportunity to share a range of making experiences. If there’s one thing I can pass on to anyone trying to develop an idea, it’s this; make it. You’ll resolve so many unanswered questions about your idea by holding it in your hand, feeling it, pushing and pulling it, turning it on and off (even if only simulated), drawing on it, cutting it and gluing it. Go on, get your hands dirty.
For further information please contact Josh Jeffress on (02) 4021 1027, email or visit
Josh Jefress Josh Jeffress
is Principal Designer and Managing Director at Design Anthology. Josh and his team have successfully delivered more than eighty product design projects across multiple sectors. With extensive manufacturing experience and design know-how, they are uniquely positioned to assist their clients to grow their businesses by bringing ideas to market.