More and more design tools are appearing online that enable you to design your own products without specialised knowledge or training. Whether you want to design your own furniture or create your own, highly customised car design, more and more companies are giving customers the power to see their visions come to life. Here we've selected five of the best online design services that enable you to do just that.
Words: Christian Harries
Swedish furniture retailer IKEA has created a great online service that allows you to design and customise your own kitchen, bathroom and furniture.
When designing the bathroom's layout and custom furniture, you have to choose from a selection of ready-made templates which you can then edit to your liking. The kitchen, however, can be designed from scratch and even takes in to account things like the size and shape of the room as well as where you choose to put your appliances.
Once you're happy with your design, simply save it to the IKEA server and then you can pick up everything you need in store.
Nike iD is a service that enables you to create your own custom-made Nike sneakers.
You're given a huge range of customisation options, from being able to change which design you use as a template to the colouring, lining, and even the sole of the shoe. The most popular part of the service is the ability to add your own tag on the heel, which makes them all the more personal. There are also other, more technical features you can add to your design such as the cushioning and traction of the shoe.
- Also read: The 20 best sneaker designs of all time
Über-luxury car maker Bugatti has taken personalisation to extremes, by allowing you to create your very own car design from a template.
Customisation options include the ability to personalise the colour of each component - from the stitching to the seatbelts, individual body to the fuel and oil caps. Plus you can change more technical elements such as the wheel type to match your driving needs.
You can save your design as a PDF with all possible views included as well as the technical details making it all the more easier for when you finally buy that car, just the way you like it.
With Blurb anyone can produce their own book without the need for a publisher.
Whatever your level of design expertise, Blurb has the tools to suit your needs. Newbies can start with a template and then add their own photos, images and text. If you're more proficient in InDesign CS6 you can download a special plug-in that makes designing your book to the right parameters as easy as if you used a template.
You can also choose what type of paper you want your book printed on, whether you want the cover to be hard or soft, and even the colour of the end sheets.
FontStruct is an online font construction program created by FontShop that makes it easy to create letterforms out of basic geometric shapes such as squares, triangles, and ellipses.
The fonts you create can then be turned in to a .ttf file, which you can download and install on your computer, as well as share it with the FontStruct community if you choose. (Even if you don't, you can still benefit from being able to download and even edit other people's fonts for free.)
Have you created a product using an online design service? Share your experiences in the comments!
- Christian Harries is a third year product design student at Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication.