“Have you built the concept model?” isn’t a phrase you normally hear when you work a typical 9-5, however it’s a cornerstone question at Inventionland. As you go through the factory, you can find almost every area has several types of cardboard of different sizes and hot-glue guns stashed, ready to use at a moment’s notice.

The concept model helps designers pull ideas together in a tangible way. You can see examples of concept models through almost any field which creates 3D products…from something as small as a toy to something as large as an office building. The concept model is a physical rendering of the object, traditionally in a less expensive medium than its final form. At Inventionland, we tend to make our concept models out of cardboard and hot glue; however, they can also be made out of wooden slats, dowel rods, or thin plastics. Creating concept models out of basic materials helps us to visualize in an inexpensive way point out flaws within the product.  If it wasn’t for the concept model, for example, Derek Zoolander’s Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good would only be one-third of the size Zoolander envisioned.

Companies offering design services can show their clients what the final product should look like, preventing confusion and possible upset if someone had a differing idea. Preventing something from having to be rebuilt or redesigned because an idea wasn’t represented accurately is not only a large waste of money, it is a waste of valuable resources as well. The concept model goes a long way in showing the idea to others so they’re able to grasp it. Though words can go far in explanation, nothing is quite the same as being able to visually see a product, building, or design. When the designer gets into the same room as the person who will be constructing the piece, they’re able to discuss what will and won’t work and edit the model together.

Look at the space around you, and chances are there are likely a dozen items which started out as a concept model. Not only does it help conceptualize a design, but it can prevent wasting any money or resources on the final piece. Concept models are an essential part of the design process and can help create a final product that is really, really ridiculously good looking.