The Journey Into Design

The Importance of Building a Study Model For Your Designs

Digital tools such as 3d modeling software and AI are changing at a rapid rate, and it is easy to start feeling overwhelmed if you are using the right software for your style of creative output.  Are you going to get lost if the sea, or will your competition pass you by? One thing I have found is that building things with my hands forces me to slow down, to think, to explore new ideas, to embrace failure.  Those failures often push me in a new direction, and sometimes unexpected wins come from them.  Whether or not I am building a study model or working on a full-size prototype, there are a lot of important lessons to be learned.

I found that prototyping and building a study model is a crucial step in the design.  Here’s why building a study model is important:

1. Visualization and Exploration: Study models provide a tangible and visual representation of your design concept. They allow you to see your ideas in three dimensions, helping you better understand spatial relationships, proportions, and aesthetics. This visualization aids in uncovering potential design flaws, optimizing layout, and exploring design alternatives.

2. Iterative Design Process: Design is an iterative process, and study models facilitate this process by allowing you to test and modify different aspects of your design. You can quickly iterate and refine your ideas by physically manipulating the model or making changes.

3. Scale and Proportion: Study models help you understand how the design will appear at various scales. This is particularly important in furniture, where the sense of scale and proportion can significantly impact a user’s experience and the overall aesthetics of the design.

4. Spatial Relationships: Models enable you to analyze spatial relationships between different elements within the design. This helps you determine that the design functions well in a space.  For example, A chair and table fit well together.

5. Feedback and Communication: Study models are effective tools for communicating your design intent to others, whether it’s clients or colleagues. A physical or digital model can convey your ideas more clearly than drawings or verbal descriptions alone.  It gives them something tangible to hold in their hand an manipulate.

6. Material and Texture Exploration: Depending on the type of model, you can experiment with different materials, textures, and finishes. This exploration can inform decisions about the final materials to be used in the actual construction or production.

7. Problem Identification: Study models can reveal design issues that might not have been evident through drawings or digital renderings. By physically interacting with the model, you may discover issues related to user flow, structural stability, or even aesthetic clashes.

8. Creativity and Inspiration: The act of physically building a model can inspire new ideas and creative solutions. The tactile experience of manipulating materials can spark innovative design approaches that might not have emerged solely through digital design processes.

9. Time and Cost Savings: Using study models to address design issues in the early stages can help avoid costly revisions during the later stages of construction. Identifying problems before they become major problems can save both time and money.

10. Learning Tool: Creating study models can help your understanding of the design, construction techniques, and material properties. It can also improve your skills in spatial thinking and design communication.

Building study models is an important design process by offering a hands-on, tangible way to explore and refine design concepts. They help you visualize, analyze, communicate, and iterate on your ideas, leading to more thoughtful and successful final designs. Whether you’re designing a piece of furniture, a building, or an art sculpture, study models are an invaluable tool for enhancing your designs.


I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.

Leave a Reply