Hey I'm Ben, Creative Designer, Prototyper and Tech Lover! I've made an Apple accessory! Love to hear opinions or if you have general Design queries please Ask me Anything!

Ben James
Sep 22, 2017

Hey all, I am a creative designer and have just manufactured Apple AirHooks for AirPod. Would love to hear thoughts/ opinions! Available here: Amazon

On another note, if you have any design related queries or need any aid please give me a shout! I will aid and answer any of your questions as well as I can! : -)

If you're curious please enter my works at: www.bjidesigns.com

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How much of the concepting or strategy phase have you been involved in in previous roles?

Sep 22, 2:54PM EDT0

I haven't had many previous roles, but with the small experience I have had with freelance and some client projects, I have been given quite a bit of flexibility to ideate and conceptualise my design ideas (whilst sticking within the scope of the briefs) 

Sep 22, 7:04PM EDT0

What school did you go to and do you have a degree in electrical engineering? What is the hardest part about creating new technology?

Sep 22, 11:58AM EDT0

I studied Product Design and UAL in London (no degree in engineering) I I am currently trying to teach myself programming (front end) which is pretty fun!  In terms on creating new technology, It is definately difficult to come up with an idea that firstly is new/offers something new and secondly is needed. You get alot of tech nowadays that is cool but doesn't necessarily solve a need (a fad) 

Sep 22, 7:01PM EDT0

How close is design related to art in your opinion?

Sep 21, 10:11PM EDT1

In my opinion the two disciplines link very well together. For me, when it comes to the design ideation for example, it is good to have an open mind and draw whatever comes to mind, no matter how abstract because there will be a point where you will refine the idea down again. So for me art helped me alot (I have even painted some of my ideas before!)

Last edited @ Sep 22, 2:52AM EDT.
Sep 22, 2:51AM EDT0

Is art one of your hobbies outside of work?

Sep 22, 7:40PM EDT1

Can you briefly describe your creative process?

Sep 21, 9:43PM EDT1

 Identify a need for an idea >> Reseach into that need and the problem you're trying to solve >> Define your solution >> Develop Initial ideas and possible solutions & test >> Refine your ideas and choose to develop the best few >> Build initial prototypes >> test your build prototypes/ gather user feedback >> Refine and improve until you reach a final outcome. But this process is not linear it's a cycle. There will be times you may need to jump back to a previous stage!

Sep 22, 3:05AM EDT0

Awesome outline of steps to take, thanks! If you could turn back the clock - is there anything you would have done differently with the product?

Sep 22, 7:16PM EDT0

The Airhooks are so incredibly cool. Now you look back on the product, is there anythng you would have done differently? 

Sep 21, 5:27PM EDT0

Thank you Amanda :-) yes definately. I think I would loved to have experimented more on the packaging (it's pretty plain)

Maybe experiement with more than 2 colours and see how the AirHooks may have been if I used a different material!

Sep 22, 6:56PM EDT0

What questions do you ask yourself when designing a prototype, could you name the 5 most important ones?

Sep 21, 4:58PM EDT0
  • How closely does it fit with what I am wanting to portray and show
  • Does it easily show features that I want to stand out
  • If someone were to look at it first time, would they understand what it is.
  • Can I easily present and show the idea to someone.
  • What is the best materials/ software to use and what is the easiest/ quickest way to mock up the idea!
Sep 22, 6:54PM EDT0

What tools are you using when designing you products?

Sep 21, 10:40AM EDT1

I try and vary with the tools I use. I sketch and draw & sometimes use a 3D Printer.  In terms of digitial tools the ones I use the most are:

  • Autodesk Alias
  • Keyshot
  • Adobe Suite
  • For prototyping things like apps (which I am learning) - Invision, photoshop + illustrator 
Sep 22, 3:09AM EDT0

The above tools - how did you learn to use them? Do you consider yourself an expert on these?

Sep 22, 7:43PM EDT0

Great product! Congratulations :)

Are the airpods water resistant? Also, what color choices do I have?

Sep 21, 9:46AM EDT0

Thank you :-)

Yes they are water resistent and come in both Black and White colour choices!

Sep 22, 3:09AM EDT0

Do you hope to introduce more colours in the future? I would love a pair of grey airpods!

Sep 22, 7:13PM EDT0

What are some best practices in design?

Sep 21, 8:59AM EDT0

Storytelling - Does the product tell a story? Why will it work and how will it fit and enrich people's lives!

Being Agile to change - If your design isn't working or needs extra testing and improvement, don't be afraid to adapt and change. Ideate and Develop (which is a constant cycle until you reach the final outcome)

User feedback (and fast) - always one of the most important  aspects. The quicker you get feedback the quicker you can develop and find needs that you would not have thought of before!

Simplicity is key - The best products/ tech are simple in design (CMF, UI etc) People like simple. Something that engages them and holds their focus without being too intense on uneccessary features. That's why products like Apple sell so well! 

Get that idea on Paper! - If you have an idea just draw it/ write about it! From there you can develop and grow it. 

Hopefully that answers your question : -)

Sep 22, 6:44PM EDT0

What is your favourite project that you have ever worked on? 

Sep 21, 7:26AM EDT0

I wish i had way more projects to choose from! But it would have to be a client project for a scooter company I did at uni. It was great hearing their brief and their vision for urban mobility with the use of a scooter! Oh and we got to ride on their electric scooters which was cool :-)

Sep 22, 6:25PM EDT0

Where did you study and are you self employed or do you work for someone?

Sep 21, 4:25AM EDT0

I studied at an art design uni in central London and I have tried the freelance route but right now I am full time!

Sep 22, 6:23PM EDT0

Do you use a 3D printer?

Sep 21, 3:38AM EDT0

Sometimes but rarely. It depends on cost. If i really need to print something for prototyping I will but if not quick sketch models are just as good :-)

Sep 22, 6:22PM EDT0

Love your ideas and you're a good artist. Where did you learn to draw?

Sep 21, 3:38AM EDT0

Thanks Philip, I just draw/ sketch in my spare time. You pick it up - definately if you have spare time just grab a pencil and draw! I'm definately not the best but it is great to just see an idea come to life on paper!

Sep 22, 6:21PM EDT0

Have you pitched your product to apple or do you think it's better not to and why?

Sep 21, 3:32AM EDT0

Good question, no I haven't. I designed the product (though very simple) for my own personal reasons. I have large ears and the AirPods tend to not hold whilst moving. The idea was featured online but the whole reason of AirPods is to be wireless with no strings/ accessories attached so they would not see the idea as something breakthrough or widely needed! But it was fun to create nonetheless

Sep 22, 6:18PM EDT0

How do you stay organized when you are provided with multiple design assets, files, and ideas?

Sep 21, 2:36AM EDT0

I'm not the most organised person ahah, but when it comes to a project I try to break down work into sections. This goes for Hard Portfolio and digital - Sticking to the process and placing work in that order (So initial ideas first >> research >> etc etc into a structured format)

Sep 22, 6:15PM EDT0

What questions do you ask before you begin any design project? What information is most important?

Sep 21, 1:13AM EDT1
  • How will the user benefit from this new idea
  • Does it successfully solve a need
  • How can I improve it (if it is a product that already exists)

I think these are important aspects. If you are designing just to design then it sort of defeats the purpose. It should be something that enhances user experience. Another thing that just popped into my mind whilst answering your question is - Will it last? A design can't be a fad. Good design lasts! :-)

Sep 22, 6:11PM EDT0

Wow you are certinaly very creative - have you always been this way since a child? 

Sep 21, 12:45AM EDT1

Hey Larson, thanks! I always loved to draw but to tell the truth I never considered doing anything design related & wanted to go the academic route! Things changed but I'm definately happy I chose to go the creative route!

Sep 22, 6:02PM EDT0

That's great! if you werent doing this what do you think you would be doing?

Sep 22, 6:43PM EDT0

Are you on facebook or twitter so I can follow you?

Sep 21, 12:44AM EDT0

Hey Scott, at the moment unfortunately not I need to soon! 

Sep 22, 6:06PM EDT0

Haha yes you do! How do you stay connected to friends and family world-wide?

Sep 22, 6:44PM EDT0

What prototyping tools do you use?

Sep 21, 12:18AM EDT0

I am currently learning to app prototype so for this I use' Invision'.  For design - 3D Printing and if I can rough sketch models (foam paper etc)

Sep 22, 5:54PM EDT0

Have you found the software 'Invision' easy to learn and use?

Sep 22, 7:06PM EDT0

Is prototyper a real job?

Sep 21, 12:15AM EDT0

Most probably. If you were to apply for a design role or UX/ UI career this aspect may definately be part of your role. When I say prototyper, I personally am teaching myself to make mockups of things like apps and products for testing! 

Last edited @ Sep 22, 5:51PM EDT.
Sep 22, 3:12AM EDT0

That must be very time consuming creating the mockups? 

Sep 22, 6:42PM EDT0
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