Michael Tougher

Michael Tougher
Week 5 – Design innovations in plastics talk with Michael Tougher

Michael Tougher created the product Soundbops which he originally started during a project in his 4th year at University. Soundbops is a musical instrument to help kids learn, play and enjoy music. Currently, I am completing a similar project brief and have found Michael’s journey very inspiring. 

Michael talked about his whole design process through design, prototyping with market users, branding and manufacturing stages.

To begin at the design stage, it is important to continue developing your product throughout the entire process. There is never really an end point, you always find new ways to improve sections of the design. To the right, is one of Soundbops original prototypes. He made an interesting point of ‘Why is it square? Why does it need to be square?’

Exactly! Everything around us is based off straight lines but why is this necessary for all designs to be this way? A simple square is not exciting, it’s good to play with new shapes and experiment. Stand out!

Initial prototype – Soundbops
Double Diamond
Further prototyping variation

Prototyping is one of the most important stages. It allows you to test your design yourself and with your user market. You learn what is working and what needs to change. Feedback is so important, learn from it. 

Michael reiterated the double diamond process we are introduced to as PDE students. We enter the second diamond stage as we begin to prototype but, often we re-enter the first diamond to start designing again. Although the double diamond is a neat and straight forward idea, Michael ensured it is used in the design world but it’s a lot messier! 

Design, development and testing entwine as the project continues as you begin to understand what is working and what is not. You may encounter difficulties along the way but it’s how you adapt to the problem that allows you to move forward. Don’t give up if you experience a moment of failure, keep pushing and you will succeed. 

I think this is very good advice for all designers. Not everyone is going to like your work, it is subjective, but having a strong and positive mindset will help you achieve your goals. We all experience disappointment whether it is at Uni or at work. We can learn from our mistakes and in the end, we will create something even better than we originally thought. 

‘Believe in the process’.


Michael talked about the original name given to the product, dots. I really liked the logo but after he explained the change of name it completely made sense. When searching for a product on Google, if you use a generic name, your product will get lost within the search results. You need a name that is unique and unforgettable. Don’t get attached to your first idea, allow the change to come naturally.

The manufacturing stage is a unfamiliar territory for students. Using professionals within that field will help transition you into this new designing world. Michael said he really enjoyed the process however, they ended up finding a problem with the design and had to individually test a batch of 1000 products to check which ones were faulty!

I think what I can take from this talk would be that the designing world is unpredictable, and you have to adapt as you go along. the process has many ups and downs but is a great learning experience. It is so inspiring to see a fellow PDE graduate stepping into the entrepreneurial world to create their own product. It’s very exciting to know that it is possible!

16th February 2021.

Current Soundbop design

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