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Chili Pepper Ale

Chilli Pepper Ale's Toolbox

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Hi everyone, here is my entry thread.


A little background on me: I'm a recently graduated mechanical engineering student. I don't have much consumer product design experience, but ultimately that is the field I hope to enter. I figure entering this design challenge will be good practice regardless of the outcome of my design. I'm hoping I can get some feedback from the community on not just my designs, but my process and methods, too. Ok, enough about me...


To start off, I figured a 'toolbox' in its essence is something that brings together items. Anything otherwise would be going beyond the scope of a 'toolbox' regardless of the open endedness of the challenge. Hence, off the top of my head I put together a preliminary list of tools a designer may need, separating them into essential and non-essential, in the sense of the basic tools a designer needs versus all others.



  • Markers
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Eraser
  • Sharpener
  • Rulers
  • Paper


  • Laptop and accessories
  • Chargers/power supplies
  • Prototypes
  • Supplies for modeling
  • Digital tablet (iPad, Wacom, etc.)

I know the categorization isn't that accurate, but this was my preliminary list, just getting ideas down on paper.


Next, I jotted down some ideas on different types and options for the toolbox itself:

  • Portable/on the go vs. stationary/keep at home
  • Just for utensils/tools vs. also for laptops, cameras, models, etc.
  • Rigid material / box type vs. soft material / bag type

Too finish my initial brainstorming session, I asked "what do I want a tool box to be/do?"

  • hold tools (the obvious first thought)
  • organize
  • keep my tools safe and clean
  • sturdy
  • easy access, easy to open and close

To sum up, my initial design steps were to explore what purpose a tool box serves, options for types of toolboxes, items a toolbox may hold.


I'll post up my second stage of brain storming in my next post. Thanks for reading, and any feedback / criticism is welcome!

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I like how you start out by defining the essence of what a toolbox is. However, I wonder whether nowadays computers can be seen as non-essential for designers? I have yet to encounter anything that was designed, built and sold without computers in the last few years.

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Thanks for the feedback, Pandebus. Perhaps ‘essential’ wasn’t the best term for what I had in mind. This post should address what you brought up and start to clear up the path my design is taking. Fair warning, this is going to be another text heavy post. But don’t worry, sketches are coming!


This post will cover my second brain storming session.


Revisiting ‘essential/non-essential’


What I meant by the term ‘essential’ was the most basic bare-bones tools a person would need to design something. After some further thought, I think it boils down to three items: your mind, pen, and paper. We should all know that what makes us designers is not being able to make impressive CAD models. Rather it’s the ability to generate and explore ideas, for which all you really need is an open mind and an active imagination. However, what is an idea if it cannot be communicated, so pen and paper it is! So the refined list:



· An open mind

· Pen

· Paper



· Everything else a designer would ever use


Next, I revisited the question of "what do I want a tool box to be/do?" and the different types/options of toolboxes


I hit a wall when I came back to these points because I couldn’t think of anything to add, nor could I think of how to refine the lists. After some tea and some more pondering, I realized that these points led to a question I should’ve been asking myself all along:


What kind of toolbox do I want to design?


Of course! Being an open ended challenge, this question is the root of it all. I should’ve have been mindful of this question looming above all along.


As I mentioned in my first post, I’m fairly new to designing. So I want to ask how does everyone else handle this question? Do you tackle it first thing, or at a fixed point in the design process? Or rather, in the way that I wish I had been addressing it all along, constantly revisiting and circling back to it, the anchor of design thought and process.


Ok back to the toolbox! I decided now was a good time to explore the toolboxes currently available. In a way, this is just another version of my original list of types of and options for toolboxes. However, this was still helpful and definitely added more thoughts and considerations than the original list.


Current toolboxes out on the market:

· Hardware toolboxes for traditional ‘tools’ (Art supply kits mainly fell into this category)

o Drawers

o Fold out

o Combination of both

· Briefcase style

· Messenger bag

· Roll out bandolier style


For some reason I kept feeling like I was missing a lot from this list. I think the feeling wasn’t of items missing from the list, as much of a question I wasn’t asking. So I asked:


I’m a product designer. What do I, Chili Pepper Ale, want my product designer’s tool box to be, to do, and have?


This was it. The missing link that I could feel through all of my brainstorming so far but couldn’t quite grasp. Up until this point I was throwing darts and scoring points, but I wasn’t aiming. This question let me take all the brainstorming I had done and directed it to one point, from which I could move onto the actual ‘designing’ phase.


So the following is going to be a summary of the stream of consciousness that arose from the question above. I’ll sum it up at the end if you’re not keen on picking my brain.


I’m a young guy and I’m on the go pretty often. Although I may not always notice it at the time, every sensory input I get is a form of inspiration. From the colors and the smells as I pass by the market, to the sounds of the city street, to the strangers I meet, to the laughs I share with old friends.


A camera phone and a notebook suffice in quickly recording the images and thoughts I come across. However, if I am on the go and have a chance to stop to do some design thinking I’ll need a little more than that. For me, the next step in the design process after collecting ideas and inspiration is to lay everything out in front of me. Rarely do I have enough room to do so while I’m on the go.


The solution? A tool box that allows quick access to and storage of a mood board or something similar where I can physically and visually lay out and spread my thoughts and ideas. Here is where all my brainstorming came together and pointed toward one idea: A messenger bag or briefcase style toolbox with some kind of mood board implementation.


So that’s the idea I’ll be exploring moving forward. I’ll have some sketches in my next post as well as a mockup I’m going to attempt with the messenger bag I already have. If you made it through all of that, thanks for reading! Again, any feedback is welcome!

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(i have included this last post,as it was submitted right after I closed this entry)


Finally had some time to finish up some sketches and a quick mockup. Although my final results are still very rough and perhaps not as innovative/modern as other designs, I'm pretty satisfied with my end point and what I learned through this design challenge. Especially given that this was my first attempt at any kind of product design by myself.


My final design is a messenger bag style toolbox with a couple of added elements. I decided to go with a messenger bag style because as I mentioned in my previous posts, I'm often on the go and don't bring too many design tools along with me aside from a few essentials. A hardshell or briefcase style toolbox would be a bit too rigid and heavy for my use.


I wanted to include a modular element to my toolbox and went with a roll-up bandolier style holder, similar to what I have sketched up below. The messenger bag will come with a few bandoliers, each one a bit different allowing the user to put different items in each one. One main bandolier can hold some essential or favorite tools: pens, pencils, a couple of colors. Another bandolier could hold a larger set of markers or colored pencils, and could be put in or left out of the bag as needed. The bandoliers can be placed in a compartment in the bag and held in place using velcro or some kind of partition. In my bag, shown in the photo below, I would stick the bandoliers in the compartment with the red clip.






The second element is the fold up mood board. I came up with a quick preliminary design shown in the sketches below. Basically a board that is able to fold up into the flap of the messenger bag. I came up with two slight different folding methods, and mocked up one on my bag. Sizewise, my mockup was limited by the size of the posterboard I had and didn't come out to the right proportions relative to my bag, but I think you will be able to see the concept that I am going for. My original thought was to lay the pocket of the bag flat and have the flap and attached board standing upright. However, during the mockup I realized that was using up more room than necessary as well the fact that it wouldn't be able to stand up without leaning against something. I decided to stand the bag upright, fold the flap backwards, and have the posterboard held up by the bag itself as a stand. Another problem I came across was keeping the posterboard open and not folding up on itself. For the mockup I used some binder clips to hold up the creases, but I think a more viable solution is definitely needed going foward. Perhaps, a built in snap clip could work? Any suggestions? Also I was thinking the board could be laminated or made of plastic so that it could also be used as a dry erase white board.






(Looks like I'm limited in the number of photos I can upload, so I hope nobody minds checking out the photos of my mockup here: http://imgur.com/a/kqYxa )


So there it is! My upgraded messenger bag toolbox design. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the post, it might not be as innovative or modern as some of the other entries, but I think that my design is an economical and practical tool itself for the product designer on the go. If I had more time I would have liked to continue refining the design as well as refining and doing a better job of laying out my posts. But nonetheless, I really had a good time working on this challenge and look forward to future design challenges. And any feedback would be great! I know my first couple of posts are pretty text heavy, but I tried my best in giving a play by play of my design thinking and process. Thanks everyone for checking out my design!

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