A complaint amongst industrial designers is that the human-computer interaction (HCI) of computer-aided design (CAD) systems does not fit their needs for defining product form. This paper disseminates research to identify and address the shortfalls. A strengths and weaknesses analysis of three modelling media (foam, CAD, FreeForm((R))) is reported and used to influence the design of 11 novel HCI concepts for form creation. Expert users are found to prefer 'virtual workshop' and 'intelligent environment' concepts, whilst immersive environs-rents capable of rapid project switching are liked. The results justify initiatives for developing prototype and commercial systems. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.