How wonderful to have our design shows back in London this spring! Despite the changeable weather this week, we’ve been out and about to see what’s new and inspiring at Clerkenwell Design Week.
It was of no real surprise to see sustainability and wellness at the forefront across the exhibitions and showrooms this year. As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, these topics have never been so important, as we strive to rebalance our time and re-establish new ways of living and working.
What was particularly refreshing was to see a far more holistic narrative, benefitting both people and planet harmoniously; from materials and colours that seek to protect and nurture, to spaces and forms that provide flexibility and comfort. The rise of the new holistic workplace focuses not just on the functional needs of the work environment, but on the psychological needs too.
So, let’s take a look at a few things that caught our eye…
There is a greater demand for workspaces to be even more flexible, with the ability to evolve over time, responding to changes in work patterns and behaviours. Multifunctional spatial dividers are redefining open-plan offices and homes; zoning areas for tasks or creating quick pop-up collaborative workspaces. Nature is increasingly incorporated into these flexible solutions, following the principles of biophilic design to support the wellbeing of workers by creating a visual connection to the natural environment.
We are seeing an abundance of seating solutions that create more relaxed collaborative environments within workspaces. High-back sofas and chairs enable semi-enclosed spaces to be formed and reformed in any number of combinations, creating comfort and privacy reminiscent of working from home. Colours and finishes also echo residential environments; with softer fresher tones that are familiar and inviting. As the demand for more flexible workspaces continues, we expect to see more of these modular seating solutions replace traditional office layouts.
Monochrome blocking was present in many different forms throughout the festival, with distinctive contrast created through material differences and surface details; from fabric to metal, smooth to woven, hard to soft and surface to wall. The use of a single colour with simple geometric forms and precision details created a pleasing visual balance, resulting in bold statements pieces with inviting tactile touchpoints.
Unapologetically bold, this collection of upcycled furniture felt at home at Fabric, the infamous London nightclub, and location of the POP Exhibition space. Featuring pieces from several different designers; contrasting neon colours against vintage wooden surfaces and fabrics created statement pieces with a story. A refreshing visual twist to many of the colour trends featured throughout the festival; this collection gives a warm sense of nostalgia whilst also optimism for the future. A good one to end on!
Since you are here, take a look at some of our work in the Consumer sector.
We are delighted to be featured in Medical + Healthcare Innovation, a special edition by New Design and Engineering magazines, supported by the Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI).
In this article, Chris Vincent, Sector Lead – Healthcare; Jamie Buckley, Creative Director and Vassilios Kanellopoulos, Global Business Development Director at PDD, talk about our ground-breaking collaborations with hospitals, the importance of observational research and why, now more than ever, we must put medics at the heart of innovation. They also address key questions around digital health in the context of today’s connected society.
You can read the full article here.
We were delighted to see the Philips Water Dispenser win at this year’s Red Dot Design Award 2021 in the category of Product Design, one of world’s most recognised and sought-after seals of quality for good design.
With modern, contemporary aesthetics and high-tech features, the Philips Water Dispenser conveys the advantages of its revolutionary filtration system through an innovative user experience.
The Red Dot judges recognised a clean design that clearly communicates the functionality of the device, its ease of use and intuitive operation.
Red Dot is the latest accolade for this award-winning design, which was also recognised at the DFA Design for Asia Awards as an example of design that embodies Asian aesthetics and culture, and influence design trends in the region.
Congratulations to all the teams involved!
We are delighted to announce that Olav’s Chefmesser has won the prestigious Red Dot Design Award as an outstanding example of Product Design. Red Dot recognises designs of outstanding quality, which are aesthetically appealing, functional, smart and innovative.
Das Chefmesser, an innovative Chef Knife, is the latest in a series of collaborations between PDD and Olav – a visionary German startup that is transforming the market for cookware in Europe and beyond.
When it comes to cooking, there is hardly a more crucial product than a Chef’s knife – a tool that gives chefs immediate feedback and becomes a conduit for creative expression. The PDD team worked closely with Olav to translate their ambition for the category into an award-winning product.
From the carefully selected steel alloy and a choice of fine woods, to the shape and finishing of the blade, the Olav’s Chefmesser reflects the brands commitment to providing a high-quality experience.
Working across our studios in Europe and Asia, PDD created the design concept, the visual brand language and ergonomics, and oversaw the production in collaboration with some of the world’s leading knife manufacturers in Solingen, Germany. The result is a perfectly balanced tool that delights chefs and cooks all over the world.
Congratulations to founders Christina and Till, the entire team at Olav and our team at PDD for this well-deserved win!
Take a look at some of the other award winning projects PDD has worked on in the consumer sector.
Designing characterful experiences that encourage us to do the right thing
Over the last year, while in and out of lockdowns, moving around London has been a trying, intense and reflective time.
The limitations on our movements and use of public transport during the pandemic also brought a new vantage point to observe our cities and reflect on human movement and behaviour, and I have been particularly struck by the palpable increase of electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads in London.
Battery EVs are, of course, not the ultimate answer to our transport and environmental woes, but their increasing adoption and “normalisation” is certainly a step in the right direction in helping to combat emissions and energy use in our cities.
Although there might be many economic and social factors behind the rising number of electric vehicles in our cities, I cannot help but thinking that design has a huge role to play. Design can be a powerful driver in sustainability – it can inspire more accountable behaviours, encourage us to act more responsibly and in a way that is meaningful, and emotionally rewarding.
The importance of character
Going back to London’s streets, the automotive-design geek in me has been in full flow, and never been quite so engaged as with the repeated, continued sightings of a welcome newcomer– the Honda e urban electric car.
I can hardly recall having been so wowed by a new piece of design on first impression, where everything from proportion, detail, colour and proposition appears to have been so brilliantly and unashamedly focused towards a clear goal – a modern zero-emissions vehicle aimed squarely at the urban context.
Honda should be applauded for the bravery of not engaging in a specification war when it comes to electric vehicles. After all, when it comes to range, or acceleration, the Honda e is, by industry standards, pretty average. Instead, Honda remained steadfast in designing and putting to market a product that has a clear purpose and meets the near-term needs of the urban mobility problem with fun, personality and technology.
But, why does it stand out so much? To paraphrase the respected automotive designer Frank Stephenson, this is a car designed to look like a modern urban car and not an angry Transformer. Its charm is communicated from a distance – approachable, cheeky and far more human than most other examples of automotive design out there. It does not attempt to be worthy, but entices us to do the right thing by being desirable through its lovable nature and its innate comfort within its natural environment. Our urban landscape and lives in general need more of this bravery.
The composition of character
When it comes to design, it’s important to remember that ‘character’ as such is not solely the domain of surface, sculpture or large-scale objects. In the case of the Honda e, personality comes through in other interesting ways such as the interior and lighting design.
But you can look even closer. In recent months, I’ve been amazed when visiting a local hardware store that the queue to enter the premises was not the result of an enforced restriction to ensure adequate social distancing, but a line of people actively wanting to sanitise their hands for the second time.
Rather astoundingly, the reason appeared to be the sanitiser dispenser itself. More industrial and functional in its appearance than what most people would consider beautiful, it dispenses a fine mist of alcohol-based sanitiser automatically, but with an intriguing motion of the dispensing nozzle and a thoroughly appropriate mechanical sound. A machine that makes people want to do the right thing and sanitise their hands before entering the shop. Adults giggling like toddlers when having alcohol applied to their hands by a mini robot – who could imagine calling hand sanitisation fun?
On reflection, what makes this sanitiser work and the reason why it succeeds in inviting us to do the right thing is a convergence of multiple factors; the tactile dimension – a pleasing sensorial experience and more practical, distinct solution when compared to the cloying hand-sanitising gels we are all used to by now; and the character – poetry through industrial motion as the sanitising liquid is dispensed, reminding us that technology can facilitate a more effortless and even fun route forward.
A slightly different example also caught my attention recently, partly because the dynamic between product character and responsibility has evolved during its lifespan.
BrewDog, the Scottish brewery at the vanguard of the craft beer revolution, recently announced its shift to a carbon-negative company, removing twice as much carbon from the air as it emits in the production of its beer in a single year. The company purchased over 2,000 acres of Scottish Highlands to create the BrewDog Forest and plans to plant over one million trees over the next couple of years to offset its carbon emissions. In the meantime, it is working with partners to achieve these offsetting goals and investing over 30 million pounds to guarantee that all of its infrastructure and supply chain – from the use of only renewable energy sources through to minimising the waste of water during brewing – helps the business reduce carbon emissions and minimise the waste of precious resources.
The important design aspect is that the essence of BrewDog’s products, the flavour, intensity and character of their beer hasn’t changed at all. Their stalwart beer, Punk IPA, is still very much Punk IPA, and people will continue to love it for its full-flavour hoppy intensity, only now there is an added dimension in its claimed responsibility credentials.
BrewDog, in their brash and industry-norm-baiting style, have not been shy to vocalise this new-found dimension (and with good reason, one can comfortably argue). But the initiative could have ended up as a footnote had it not been aligned with the overall company stance and ethos.
The great beer came first – it allowed users to build a relationship with the product, with a tangible voice and ethos that people loved. The company’s ethical vision followed – but without relenting or economising on the product’s character, to ensure that customers continued to engage with this newfound sense of responsibility. By staying true to its character, BrewDog allows users to attain levels of responsible consumption and behaviour that might not have been achievable at the outset, ensuring that any positive impacts in responsibility will be warmly embraced in the future.
When it comes to talking about their initiative to reduce waste through the re-use of old-design aluminium cans, BrewDog says it best “…their uniform doesn’t quite look the part, but we can assure you it’s what’s inside that counts.”
A few things to remember:
Personality, soul – whatever we choose to call it, is as important now in design – and in our lives –, as it ever was. But how do we ensure that we can design products that people will connect and engage with?
Here are a few things we should always consider:
Truth: Focus on real needs
The Honda e’s focus purely on urban mobility is a great example. Make sure you fully understand the challenges, desires and motivations of people and the limitations and needs of our environment and context. Understand who you are designing for and account for all stakeholders’ needs and viewpoints.
Engage with, observe, and talk to as many people that have some bearing on the solution as you can, so that you can wholeheartedly understand what these needs are. Importantly, don’t be afraid to question whether a potential solution is needed at all, and what the wider societal and environmental impacts are likely to be. If there was ever a time to be brave, it is now.
Simplicity: Communicate clarity of purpose
Brought to life by the hand sanitiser’s emphasis of touchless dispensing, with a visibly curious spray wand. Whether it is visual simplicity, utility or functionality, or the innate need to reduce waste, always keep questioning and appraising any potential solution with total honesty. This is the only way to ensure that the story, character and use are unambiguously understood. What is unnecessary? What could we live without? Then be bold, remove these attributes and appraise again.
Humanity: Accentuate story and character
Brewdog’s bold tone cuts across everything, from graphic communication to the flavour of their beers, and it came long before their environmental mission could be put into practice. Account for every touchpoint across the user journey, because every step and interaction can be designed to provoke experiences that satisfy our senses and emotions.
Seemingly small things – the satisfying click or slide on a simple mechanism or door, the dynamics of an animation on a touchscreen, or the just-right mass and balance of a handheld device can elicit conscious and subconscious emotional responses that make us want to prolong these experiences and make them feel natural. There lies our power to influence better, more sustainable choices.
Designers have a duty to ensure that everything made by humans is ethical and accountable to its core – from the application of materials through to how and who makes it. However, a puritanical pursuit of reducing our impact will not suffice if we are to inspire people to do the right thing. We have a duty in shaping and encouraging ethical and responsible behaviour from people. We therefore need to strive for an intelligent fusion of the functional and the emotional if we are to design and innovate ourselves to a better future. Crucially, never be afraid to lighten the mood – we all share a desire to smile.
We are delighted to see the Zephyr Plus Ventilator recognised with the C2I award for COVID-19 Response by The Engineer magazine.
Led by Babcock International Group in response to the UK Government’s ventilator challenge in the early days of the pandemic, this was a highly collaborative project where PDD and over 50 partners and suppliers worked together to find the most appropriate solution.
Jon Mason, Technical Director at PDD recalls: “There was a unique sense of collaboration and urgency amongst everyone involved, with suppliers eager to help in whichever way possible. We worked in parallel workflows to deliver at speed, with a clear focus and a shared sense of purpose throughout.”
OLAV wins German Design Award
The German Design Award honours innovative, pioneering products in international design. OLAV, with a vision to rethink cooking by putting people first and their commitment to develop durable products, is a worthy winner.
When OLAV’s co-founders Christina Neworal and Till von Buttlar first approached PDD with the idea to launch a pan through their e-commerce platform, we saw an opportunity to do things differently. Although launching a new brand in an already saturated market is always a risky endeavor, we thrived at the possibility to reset the standards in cookware through design.
Working closely with the founders PDD helped to transform their vision into a tangible, high-quality product. Through a series of iterations, technical feasibility studies and ergonomic refinements, our team evolved the original design intent into a product that fitted the market and was ready for production. Tapping into PDD’s deep knowledge and extensive network of manufacturing partners, we worked hand-in-hand with OLAV to ensure that the brand’s ethical and environmental standards were reflected through the entire supply chain.
This work is an example of how we can collaborate with founders to turn their vision into tangible, high-quality products that are appealing, profitable, sustainable and durable.
Check out some of our award-winning products in the consumer industry here.
Oliver Breit to lead Industrial – Commercial sector at PDD.
We are delighted to announce that our colleague Oliver Breit, is taking the helm as Sector Leader Industrial – Commercial at PDD.
Based in Hong Kong, Oliver has over 20 years experience leading design, innovation and product development programmes with global clients. Since joining PDD 7 years ago as Managing Director Asia, Oliver has applied his expertise in product development and unique insight into manufacturing to help our clients translate blue-sky innovations into commercially successful products.
Oliver’s German heritage infuses a sensibility for precision and detail into his work, with a focus on users, market relevance and technology. His life in Hong Kong also informs his approach to design, with a thorough understanding of how East-West influences can impact aesthetics, efficiencies and the pace of innovation.
A great believer in the power of collaboration, Oliver will continue to work closely with our multi-disciplinary teams across our studios and geographies. We wish Oliver all the success in this new role!
You can find out more about our work in the Industrial – Commercial sector here.
We are proud to announce that the Philips Water Dispenser ADD6910/90 has won a Merit at DFA Design for Asia Awards. The awards recognise designs that embody Asian aesthetics and culture, and influence design trends in the region.
With modern aesthetics, high-tech features and a contemporary visual brand language, the Philips Water Dispenser designed by PDD conveys the advantages of its high-end filtration system through an innovative user experience that stands out in the Asian market.
The touchscreen and controls are fully integrated into the body of the dispenser, seamlessly bridging the physical and digital experience for users. Features include real-time water temperature displays, a child-lock system, a water-shortage reminder and an ‘Ambient Water’ button that dispenses water at a steady 25C even in winter when inlet water temperatures drop.
The design by PDD also addresses some the issues associated with the use of water dispensers, such as changing the filter – a process that is often awkward and messy. Using slick interaction design and mechanics, our team developed a unique mechanism that works by simply opening the lid, turning and taking the filter out.
The dispenser also stands out for its flexible and adaptable design. As a countertop appliance, it requires no installation and has a smaller footprint that suits the needs of contemporary households. The water tank is designed to fit different water sources with different spout heights, a common feature in many households in Asia. The clean-cut, minimal design also incorporates instant heating technology to provide drinks of different sizes and temperatures.
Successfully launched in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Singapore, the Philips Water Dispenser ADD6910/90 is conceived to meet the needs of the stylish, health-focused, affluent Asian consumers.
Visitors to this year’s Design Shanghai 2019 show were exposed to glorious sunshine alongside many famous pioneers from the Design Industry. Names such as Aldo Cibic (co-founder of Memphis Design), Daan Roosegaarde, Timothy Oulton Studio with the “space capsule” device were all on hand at the exhibition site. The PDD Asia team were extremely passionate about new trends and were also enthralled with the breakthrough innovation. Please read on to discover some of the exciting things that the PDD team discovered at the show.
Material Revolution in the design pool
Whilst wandering around the 1000-metre-square hall dedicated to materials, a fabulous talk devoted to New Materials was taking place, presenting sustainable projects gathered together. It demonstrated how designer’s and students place value on raw materials or waste from industry and successfully turn them into recyclable materials with a variety of applications. As the speaker pointed out, the textile revolution is the result of our thinking:
Image Credit: Dezeen
Iceland students experimented to discover great uses for willow branches turning them into a range of materials. Sheets of Wood from forests are bonded to a piece of fabric and then through the microlaser etched, the materials are given impressive pliability.
Image credit: PDD
‘Ignorance is Bliss’ by Agne Kucerenkaite
This is an ongoing project about rethinking the value of metal waste from industries such as water treatment plants and soil remediation into new valuable products and methods. The collection consists of elegant porcelain tableware, woven textiles, and ceramic interior wall tiles.
Image credit: Agne Kucerenkaite
Plastic Stone Tiles by Enis Akiev
Post-consumer plastic waste is formed into a new type of rock stone. Surprisingly, the more contaminated the raw material is, the more of a vibrant the design the objects have.
Image credit: Enis Akiev
Bananatex by QWSTION
Designed by Swiss studio QWSTION, The world’s first technical fabric made from banana fibres in the Philippines. Qwstion is passionate about transforming unassuming natural materials into 100% biodegradable bags and enhancing the handcraft market. On their website, you can see more details on how this is achieved through viewing their inspirational video.
Video credit: QWSTION
3D Printed Terrazzo Flooring by Aectual
Aectual print patterns with a bio-based plastic based on linseed oil. It’s a wide customized selection of recycled natural stone, marble, granite, glass and recycled plastic infills. The use of bio-materials and waste material makes the floor highly sustainable. There is no waste in the entire production of the printed mats.
Image credit: Aectual
Improving lives with bold design and health care
FRANKE Smart Deco Collection
It was inspiring to see FRANKE use light colours in the design of their range of cooker hoods. Helping to bring emotional comfort to cooking and also brighten any kitchen space. Replacing iron or stainless steel colour and texture, this gentle curved smart collection will most definitely be popular in smaller kitchen spaces in the future.
Image Credit: PDD
Home-use air purifier system
SWISS IQ Air highlighted wall mounted clean zone and Atem, vertical air purifier, offering hospital-grade clean air at home. This space-saving Atem, absorbing polluted air like PM2.5 into a 360-degree inlet and generating clean air. A better interactive experience is created by the ability to simply pat the side of the Atem to switch it on easily.
Image Credit: IQAir
Interaction innovation connects human and environment
SMOG FREE TOWER by Studio Roosegaarde is widely known in China due to its remarkable campaign on reducing air pollution and providing an inspirational experience of a clean future. Daan Roosegaarde, the founder of Studio presented a series of thrilling projects about human and environment to seek the opportunity of creating an interactive experience in the spaces “in between” art, craft, design and digital technology. WATERLICHT and GLOWING NATURE are very incredible examples I particularly hope to see in Asia:
Image Credit: Studio Roosegaarde
WATERLICHT- it’s a combination of LEDs and lenses which create an ever-changing layer of light, influenced by wind and rain. As a virtual flood, it shows how high the water could reach and raises awareness about rising water levels. Dann mystically said that this amazing campaign would launch at an international city in Asia afterwards Rotterdam. Will Shanghai be the lucky city? I look forward to it.
GLOWING NATURE – shows the beauty of nature through a unique encounter between man, biology and technology. It provides a flowing experience with live bioluminescent algae as new building blocks for our future of food, fuel and light. Following an intensive period of research and design Studio Roosegaarde created the perfect conditions for visitors to experience the magic of nature in the darkness and its potential for a better future.
Design Shanghai is Asia’s leading international design event bringing together established international brands alongside up-and-coming designers from China and around the world. This year we saw an interesting change to the exhibition space in the form of an additional area outside of the main building, providing more room for brands to exhibit their products. In collaboration with artists, an installation was displayed upon a giant pool in the middle of the exhibition centre, capturing the spirit of design.
In contrast to last year’s show that was a collection of ‘flashy, funny & dramatic’ furniture, home ware and tableware; this year felt a lot more ‘gentle, modern & young’. Many products expressed this aesthetic through mellow shapes and subtle colours, with some interesting influences from the world of fashion.
Here’s a roundup of some things that caught our eye at the show this year…
Wooden Textiles & Wooden Cabinet by Elisa Strozyk
New tactile experience from traditional materials…
These intriguing ‘Wooden Textiles’ by designer Elisa Strozyk are a material somewhere between hard and soft, rigid and malleable, familiar through tactility yet strange in form; creating a new tactile experience. The wood is deconstructed into different shapes and sizes and mounted onto a textile backing; depending on the geometry and the size of the tiles each design behaves differently in terms of movement and flexibility. Applications are more akin to textiles rather than what you would expect for wood and include drapes for beds & sofas, table runners, rugs, curtains, wall hangings and lamps; each giving a unique pattern through colour and movement.
The Rug Company – Festival by Paul Smith, Chiaroscuro by Alexander McQueen
From fashion to floor, capsule collection…
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, The Rug Company has created a capsule collection of handmade rugs by leading designers, including fashion designers Paul Smith, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood. The distinct styles, characteristics and colour palettes of each designer have been skilfully translated into these rugs, all of which are handcrafted in Nepal using traditional time-honoured techniques; allowing people to express their fashion tastes though their home as well as through their clothes.
‘La Collection’ bathroom by Jacob Delafon and and Alexis Mabille
Interdisciplinary blends capturing the spirit of the bath…
‘La Collection’ is a bathroom furniture and accessories collection encapsulating the ‘spirit of the bath’ and born out of collaboration between French bath specialist Jacob Delafon, Parisian Couturier designer Alexis Mabille and master craftsmen. Designed to create an atmosphere of old washrooms from the 1930s, the combination of soft pink walls, beautifully veined marble and brass gilded with gold creates a sophisticated and feminine aesthetic. The bathtub, basin, shower tray and stool were crafted by a stonemason from the same marble block and hand sanded to a matte finish. While the shower cage with round showerhead, faucets and towel rails were crafted from brass and gilded with a fine gold by a master locksmith.
If you would like to find out more about what the team saw at Design Shanghai contact Daisy on: DaisyHu@pddenglish.wpenginepowered.com
Karsten Fischer – CEO at PDD, along with leading figures from across the industrial design industry offer their response to the result of June’s referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.
Karsten Fischer, chief executive of design consultancy PDD
“To put it simply, we are disappointed. As a creative consultancy founded in London more than 35 years ago, we have greatly benefited from access to the single market and freedom of movement. Many of our consultants come from the EU and a large share of our revenue is generated from EU customers. Therefore the outcome of the referendum is creating a lot of socio-economic uncertainty for us.
A comprehensive national debate must now take place as to how we will implement our departure from the EU. The Brexit campaigners failed to set out any policy details for leaving, so we still have an opportunity to influence the precise nature of the future relationship with our fellow European neighbours.
We are passionate about our home base London remaining a global design hotspot and the UK as a whole continuing to provide world-class academic training in creative disciplines. Retaining freedom of movement would ensure talented students and creative industry practitioners alike can continue to come freely to Britain and enrich our international design credentials.
The innovative products and experiences we create at PDD often transform the business models of our customers. Most of our clients operate across multiple geographies and require our teams to have a deep understanding of local cultures. We can only retain our highly-skilled, culturally diverse workforce if Britain remains an open society in a post-Brexit era.”
To read the full article from newdesign magazine, click here.
This year the Product Design and Innovation Conference reached its fifth year. It provides a place for designers and manufacturers to meet and discuss innovation and the product design industry. This year there were talks from; Design Partners, TEAMS Design, Chauhan Studio, BAC Mono, McLaren Technology Centre, Lenovo, Bacardi Global Brands, Kinneir Dufort, Speedo Aqualab, Whipsaw Ltd. to name a few of the 33 companies that the speakers were representing.
I was also asked to speak on panel of graduates and students discussing the topic of ‘Employment for Graduates’. Speaking with me on the panel was Craig Tomkins MA Service Design student from Imperial College London who spoke on service design and Elena Dieckmann, Designer & Operations Manager at BRUISE who spoke about her product and the insight that lead to the innovation.
I began my talk by discussing my background, experience and the reason I was speaking at the conference. My journey into the industry was not very orthodox as I received a placement through a student design competition which led to a full time position. But there were some tips that I could offer for students trying to get into the industry.
The second half of the talk looked at the difficulties that I encountered when applying for jobs and how prepared for the industry I was. From these difficulties and my industry experience I tried to offer a few insights to the companies that were at the conference.
Get a good work placement
One of the areas that I highlighted was for students to get a good placement. A good placement goes a long way to closing the gap in knowledge between what is taught at universities and the applicable skills for industry. It helps to develop the areas that are really needed on live briefs, such as; rapid idea generation and informed design through knowledge of materials, manufacturing techniques and design for manufacture. Not only do placements help with design related skills but also interpersonal skills, working with clients and understanding quality systems.
To put this into action I encouraged companies to offer short and long term placements and to sponsor student design competitions with placements being the prize. This benefits the student in gaining the required skills, it allows the student to have a platform to impress employers and facilitates employers in discovering talent that they wouldn’t otherwise have seen. Students should be encouraged to enter as many design competitions as possible as these can increase their chances of being seen by employers which is often the hardest part of employment, it is also a great accolade to have on their CVs and sets them apart.
Get companies and universities to work together
Another area that I focussed on was for companies to have a greater input in the university syllabus. This would help to align the students’ projects with the work that is being expected by the industry. To do this I suggested the companies should open up a constant dialogue with universities. Whether that means universities getting final year product briefs from companies, getting employers to review the marking criteria or running workshops for students to run their ideas past companies. This would mean that the graduates that employers are approaching at degree shows and sending in their portfolios to have the skills that employers are after.
Hearing the feedback from members of the audience was great and getting a conversation started between companies and graduates was really interesting. Merle Hall (Client Services Director at Kinneir Dufort) had a very interesting point and advice for graduates looking for work; that persistence when applying for a position goes a long way and following up on your application shows you really want the job especially if you haven’t received feedback on your application for a few weeks.
Look outside the UK
The panel also helped to raise questions from industry professionals such as Dan Harden (President at Whipsaw Inc.). He asked why students from the UK weren’t applying for placements and positions in Silicon Valley, California? As he rarely receives applications from the UK despite huge opportunities becoming available over there every day, in a rapidly growing area for design and technical advances.
Key insights from PD+I 2015
There were some great insights into the work done and the methods of companies within the design industry. Some of the most valuable insights were;
Dan Hardens (President/CEO/Principal Designer at Whipsaw Inc.) rule-busting principles for design companies to innovate and flourish. Which were;
1. Find the gem of meaning – Discover that key insight.
2. Contemplate on the non-figurative ideas.
3. Think less, see more – Be inspired by non-figurative ideas.
4. Adore the medium and its method – Materials alone can carry a product.
5. Shake up the process – It fosters happy accidents.
6. Listen only to the end user – Listen, observe, be sympathetic, feel their problem.
7. Be creatively audacious – If the wind doesn’t blow the grass doesn’t stir.
8. Get out of your mind – The wider the perspective the deeper the concept, step outside your own cranial box.
9. Let content lead technology – Let your solution be an outcome of utility.
10. Get strange – Try something edgy and strange not just something you know.
Brian Stevens (Co-Founder and Managing Director at Design Partners) spoke about the ‘new’ type of client. One that is informed, that leads the design process and how companies should deal with this. The key for him was to understand client ambition, spend time to understand that ambition and see where it is leading. In doing this companies should also design for the core group but expand the market. He summarised by saying that companies should build the ambition of the client and develop it through intent.
Paola Lorini is an independent consultant and advisor in design strategy, management and communication. He spoke on the topic of designers moving from inventors to entrepreneurs.
He began by quoting Michael Marks (CEO of Flextronics) “In today’s crowded consumer markets, where low price and increased functionality is the rule, industrial design is a key competitive differentiator”. He went onto discuss how designers are becoming integral to companies that aren’t necessarily within the design industry with some making it into high positions due to their innovative thinking and problem solving abilities. He predicted that we would start seeing designers in the boardrooms and key decision making positions. He finished by listing his views on the changing traits of good designers;
1. Good designers will love the unknown.
2. Good designers will know that quality is nothing without speed.
3. Good designers will give more than they will take.
4. Good designers will speak other languages – Cultural mediators, speak the language of other stakeholders, emotional intelligence.
5. Good designers will think holistically but control even the smallest details.
6. Good designers will never forget that beauty should be at the heart of value creation – Beauty is universal.
7. Good designers need to become irreplaceable.
Vassilios Kanellopoulos, Business Development Director, and Vicky Hong, Business Development Manager, talk to New Design about our growing presence in Asia.
In the article they reveal plans to double the size of PDD’s team in Shanghai as opportunities in the Chinese market grow. Vicky explains how the growing purchasing power of an expanding middle class has changed the way brands position themselves in the market.
“Take the home appliance industry for example…previously, international brands (like Bosch and Siemens) positioned themselves in the premium market, now they need to look at other tiers too…because the gap between international and higher-end Chinese brands is no longer so massive.”
That time of year has come again for ‘The Plastics Industry Awards 2014’. Every year it recognises the best that the UK plastics industry has to offer with 17 categories ranging from ‘Processor of the Year’ to ‘Apprentice of the Year’. PDD is a previous winner of ‘Industrial Product Design of the Year’ award, but this year I was lucky enough to be invited along as a finalist.
This year’s event was held at the London Hilton Park Lane with 800 guests attending. The evening began with a champagne reception and meal which gave everyone the opportunity to speak with fellow finalists and individuals from across the industry.
The awards themselves were presented by comedian Al Murray (aka The Pub Landlord) who despite admitting to knowing next to nothing about the industry or the awards performed a hilarious table by table interview with few escaping.
The evening went off without a hitch, even though the autocue decided to turn off midway through the opening speeches and I was honoured to receive the ‘Young Designer of the Year Award’. Click here to see the list of other winners from the evening.
Tom Hamilton holding his award. Image credit: Plastics Industry Awards
The project ‘Zebro’ that I won the award for was part of my final year project while at Loughborough University studying Industrial Design.
Featured image and above image credit: Tom Hamilton
Zebro is an emergency trauma splint. It is fast and effective at immobilising any leg injury, aiding in getting that person to safety. It incorporates new technology and materials not exploited in this field before.
The product works by wrapping the Polypropylene plastic shell around the casualty’s leg, forming a high strength cylinder that surrounds and immobilises the injury. The shell is then held in place by an innovative system that consists of Dyneema cable that is tightened through the ratchet dials, one on each half of the splint. The dial is a two part, lightweight mechanism that has a tightening and release function enabled by a two stage snap fit design. The straps interlock as they pass over the leg ensuring that they stay inline and maintain an even tension along the length of the leg, individual straps can be unclipped to relieve tension on certain areas if needed.
The top half of the splint and the bottom half of the splint can be used separately for more localised injuries or both halves can be used in conjunction to splint the whole leg. The whole product is radio-transparent and therefore can be left on the patient whilst they are having a CT or MRI scan, therefore reducing the risk of unnecessary injury if the leg is un-splinted too early.
As the product can unroll and lay flat it can be clipped onto the outside or underneath the straps of the rescuers backpack using the back strap. The product weighs less than 1kg making it the lightest re-useable splint on the market. These features ensure the splint is easy to transport to the casualty even if they are in a remote location.
For more images visit: www.thomas-hamilton.co.uk/zebro
As a designer I have always found the most rewarding products to develop are those that improve the quality of people’s lives: whether it’s medical equipment for new therapies, easier to use pharma devices, protective equipment for industry and defence or safety products for the rugged outdoors. Improving lives for me means delivering better and safer experiences and wellbeing, preferably also in a more efficient or sustainable way. There is a clear value attached to improving the quality of lives of users, so at the same time the endeavour is more likely to be a worthwhile to the producer also. At PDD we call this objective where parties win-win ‘Meaningful Innovation’.
The recent announcement that the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) has licensed VOKE, believed to be the world’s first cigarette-shaped nicotine inhaler, is welcome news and a wonderful example of life-improving innovation.
This product has the potential to deliver such significant health benefits to existing smokers to be worthy of registration as a medicinal product. This announcement and wider news coverage in the BBC, Telegraph and elsewhere helps to clarify what registration means to the wider public.
When it was announced in the summer of 2012 that e-cigarettes would be classed as medicines, the news was misreported by some as though regulators had already considered them to be safe and beneficial. This was an alarming and incorrect assumption.
E-cigarettes, as a new category of product, fall between the established regulatory controls for food, drugs, medical devices and tobacco in almost all countries. Without any regulation, users are at the mercy of whatever the producer includes and practices vary widely. In the worst cases, e-cigarettes have produced known carcinogens or to have exploded in use (Sources: TIME, BBC).
Introducing regulation as medicines does not mean the category as a whole is safe and beneficial. It means each product will be assessed according to stringent requirements. Eventually, only those that are safe, offer proven health benefits and are tightly quality-controlled will be legal and available in our markets.
VOKE, as a cigarette-replacement nicotine inhaler, is the first such product to be licensed in the UK as a medicinal product. We look forward to its launch, to the positive effect it will have on people’s lives and are delighted to have contributed to its innovation.
As a human factors and usability consultant I talk about usability a lot, unfortunately – but also understandably – most people do not share my enthusiasm; that is, until I apply it to something they find absolutely infuriating. This can range from tin openers to a local council website, whatever it may be it puts the problem in context. There’s one particular product that I find most people have a problem with, a product that irritates me so much that I will join in any conversation involving it. Admittedly there aren’t very many of these conversations, but they’re almost always focused on the criticism of usability; let’s see if you agree.
Here at PDD we are equipped with a robust Human-Centred and risk managed Human Factors & Usability capability. The reason for this is that we are compliant with the regulatory rigours of the Medical/Pharma sector; one of the world’s most regulated. We’d say that puts us at the forefront in human factors & usability, but not all sectors are as rigorous and usability is often an oversight or afterthought. This is surprising given the value it can add; in fact many sectors have the potential for improved usability which could put products and services well ahead of their competitors.
The beauty of our human factors & usability process is that it can be stripped back to its core – the bare usability bones if you will – then built back up to tailor to individual sectors that may vary with respect to regulatory compliance. The word ‘process’ here is key, human factors isn’t something you can whack in at the end then tick a box, it should be considered right from the beginning of a project and applied interactively throughout.
It’s frustrating to see products and services that could be improved vastly by focusing on the user or users throughout the design process. From fiddly food packaging to car park flows to medical gas compressors, the examples are endless. However, there is one product that springs to mind when I think of awkward and nonsensical; the vending machine.
Vending machines are a great example of a product with usability potential and the need for human factors to be considered early in the design process. By and large the vending machines I see on a day to day basis look something like these:
The example on the right is a typical design I have had my fair share of frustration with. My experiences can be roughly summed up in this flow chart :
Of course snacks are not the only output of a vending machine, and the example I’ve provided is by no means the only type, merely an illustration for my point. There is a large variety that can dispense hot food and drinks, sanitary and contraceptive products, umbrellas and even live crabs, but none appear to have really addressed the lack of usability that seems so apparent. That is, until I turned to Tokyo.
Japan boasts the highest number of vending machines per capita in the world, in 2011 it had one vending machine for every 25 people; bear in mind that the population had almost reached 128 million, that’s a lot of vending machines. That’s also a lot of competition, so it seems only natural that vending manufacturers began investing time and money for their machines to stand out from the crowd. One manufacturer in particular – JR East Water – came up with this:
The ‘acure’ vending machine. Image credit: designboom.com
The ‘acure’ was designed by Japanese industrial designer Fumie Shibata who clearly considered both usability and the user experience. This digital vending machine features a whopping 47” touch screen display, camera, 4 different payment methods, and the ability to serve both hot and cold drinks. Initially installed in August 2010 at Shinagawa Station (Tokyo), in a 6 month period it reported to sell around twice the amount of the surrounding vending machines. Why?
Simply, the overall experience seems to be preferred by users. The ‘acure’ has an interactive and friendly user interface; all drinks that are available are presented clearly and visually on the screen (those that are sold out aren’t shown). They can then be selected for further information and purchased using cash or card, the Japanese metro card, or using NFC technology available on most Japanese smartphones. The collection bin is located higher than on most machines negating the need for the ‘vending stoop’ pictured below, and the large screen replaces those letter-number panels with tiny digital displays.
Image credit: expressvending.co.uk
The ‘acure’ has technology to recognise gender and estimate age which leads it to recommend certain beverages to the customer. Lastly, once a transaction is complete it says ‘Thank You’ – a simple but human gesture. Even when not in use, it displays advertising depending on the time of day, temperature and season; for example it may show a steaming hot coffee on a cold winter morning.
From an overall usability perspective it takes into account maintenance and restocking, the ‘acure’ is linked to a central server which is updated in real-time so daily stock deliveries are optimised. This purchasing data (combined with sex and estimated age) is fed back and used to provide valuable user insights for the company which can fine-tune design modifications or marketing strategies. Also, it can be instructed to provide free beverages in emergency situations. What a machine!
With products such as these focusing on user needs and completely changing the game with respect to the vending user interface, other designs are no longer cutting the mustard. Vending needs to be brought up to date; the technology, materials and manufacturing methods are there, but the design is not. A fresh, iterative, user-centred approach, using a human factors & usability process is needed to create machines which are appealing, provide a great experience and are easy to use. Check out our website for more details on how we approach Human Factors & Usability at PDD.
As part of its 25th anniversary, the Design Museum asked leading designers and architects to talk about the future of design and how the design world is changing. Paul Smith opened the series in February with an inspirational talk on the need to reinvent ourselves in an ever changing world.
We are sitting in the middle of the main exhibition space, surrounded by illustrations and pictures selected by Paul Smith himself – a room full of what inspires him. In front of us, Paul is about to share his point of view and his thoughts about what’s next in design, and what we – as designers – need to keep in our minds. A reminder of things we tend to forget, as we get too busy trying to keep busy.
‘People say that trade today is difficult’ he tells us, ‘… but if you think about it, there used to be very few people fishing in the same pond. Today, you’ve got many more people. Everybody is trying to reach to the same customers, so why would they go to you?’ From the beginning of his talk, Paul Smith sets the tone and the focus: what is it that makes you, as a designer, a brand and/or a company different from others? It could be style, a product, a feature, a service… but also a point of view.
However, the key focus is ‘Balance’, a notion he refers to throughout his lecture; the balance between the dream and the money that pays for rent, the balance between newness and experience, ideas and business. It is about your aspirations as a designer, against the things that need to be done to earn wages. He looks back at his own debut, when his very first shop was only opened two days per week, while he would spend the rest of the time handling different jobs to earn his wages. This, he says, is also what he means by balance: to balance the need to pay for rent and survive, and to work on his own dream. Today, the ‘dreams’ are the fashion shows, and what brings business are all the other collections and ranges that Paul Smith produces. Despite the publicity, the prestige and the work involved in a Fashion Show, it only accounts for a small portion of his global business. It may be the part of the business that makes the most noise, but it may not be the one that brings revenues.
Image Credit: Paul Smith
Featured image credit: PDD
The world today is fast-paced and filled with information. We create an incredible amount of data every day, exposing us to so many things, all the time. And this of course has enabled us to learn, to be informed, and be influenced by others but at the same time has also led us to compare ourselves more to others too. In this context, it can be easy to lose sight of what is our own point of view, and to shift the original balance: to raise the money, and lower the dreams. Who hasn’t been tempted to follow the steps of others in the design of a new product or service? To do X or Y product, just because it is the trendy thing to do? ‘Do we need to follow them?’ Paul asks. ‘Question if you should do the same’, but don’t be childish: be child-like: exploring, daring, creating…with a point of view.’
He does not mean for anyone to discard all rules under the pretext of sticking to our own point of view; rather, he pleads to us to think laterally ‘because we don’t need more of the same’. He takes for example the work of Thomas Heatherwick, with his rolling bridge and the latest Routemaster bus design; and the work of architects Herzog & De Meuron for their unconventional apartment building in New York, or ‘Bird Nest’ stadium for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. All of these represent to him striking solutions to what has been resolved so many times in a ‘boring and repetitive’ fashion. Apartment towers don’t have to look like a monolith and bridges don’t have to split in half from the middle.
On the same wave, Paul Smith goes on to talk about Style. As he reminds us, what is progressive, unique and desirable one day can quickly become ‘not so distinctive’ tomorrow if we don’t keep on questioning and analysing ourselves, and we should never be too proud to do so. To analyse and question ourselves is of course not limited to this context but is also valid across disciplines. You can never rest on your success and there are no excuses for not trying to reinvent yourself. (Re)inventing does not necessarily mean we need to start work from scratch again. Rather, it is about what needs to be kept, not what needs to be removed. Design is as much about today, than it is about tomorrow.
By reinventing and questioning ourselves and our work as designers, he does not only mean reinventing our style, but also our methods of work and in a wider sense, our mentality.
He recalls his own experience with the dying textile trade in UK, that was increasingly unable to compete with the raising competition of the East… Yet craftsmen were unwilling to change their methods of work or their machinery. It wasn’t only about money, but about mentality. He looks at other iconic UK businesses, once successful such as Harrods or Mini, which were in decline until they were purchased. ‘Why couldn’t we keep them alive?’ he wonders. Was it money that brought them back to life, or was it a mentality? Were they too complacent in their success, while other business and countries developed to surpass them? Everything is always changing and the world is moving fast. We need to keep moving forward, look forward and be curious.
But as Paul Smith says, ‘everyday is a new beginning’.
To learn more about the DM25 Talks, visit the Design Museum website.
Food and beverage – nourishing, hydrating, stimulating and refreshing. But what happens when you throw a bit of science and technology into the mix? In our blog this week we’ll be taking a look at how the food and beverage industry has been shaped and influenced by technology from other sectors; and where science, technology and art cross over to create whole new experiences…
Image credit: ABSOLUT Unique from ABSOLUT Vodka
Featured image credit: The Future of Food, cover illustration for Icon magazine 104 by Zim and ZouManufacturing inconsistency
From an industry where heavy investment goes into creating consistency for mass manufacture, ABSOLUT Vodka took a very different approach last year to one of their new editions to the Absolute family. The ABSOLUTE Unique campaign explored and reflected the times we are living in through the utilisation of technology to create more personalised experiences for consumers. By re-engineering their production process, ABSOLUT created a series of bottles each featuring a unique design. Using splash guns, colour-generating machines and a specially developed algorithm, individual patterns were placed onto the bottles. Using just 35 colours and 51 patterns, they created nearly four million uniquely designed bottles.
Image credit: ‘Makr Shakr’ robotic bartender by MIT senseable lab + Carlo Ratti
Crowd-sourced flavour creation
The food and beverage industry hasn’t escaped the crowd-sourcing phenomena either; researchers at the MIT senseable city lab developed a robotic bar tender in collaboration with the Coca-Cola Company and Bacardi. Named ‘Makr Shakr’, consumers were able to create personalised cocktail recipes in real-time using a specially designed app and transform them into crowd-sourced drink combinations. The concept behind this development wasn’t to replace ‘the human touch’; instead it explored the possibilities offered by digital manufacturing technologies, pushing the boundaries of shared sensorial experiences through social media and principles of co-creation.
Image credit: 3D printed pasta prototype by Janne Kyttanen
Artists and designers continue to push the boundaries of technology, sometimes through product improvement and sometimes through provocative narratives. Janne Kyttanen’s 3D printed food exploration touched on both of these elements. Using plastic as a medium for exploration, intricate shapes for ‘pasta’ were created using 3D printing that not only looked beautiful, but also revisited the relationship between form and surface finish to capture sauce.
Image credit: The Sugar Lab, 3D printed sugar
Moving from niche to known
3D printed food has been explored quite a lot in the past few years through various ingredients from chocolate to cheese and sugar, like these amazingly complex geometric shapes from The Sugar Lab. Personalisation and niche applications has been the mainstay for this technology of late, but developments in this area could soon be taking a leap forward following the news last year that NASA is funding research into the technology for food development.
Image credit: Star Trek food replicator
New frontiers of personalisation
NASA’s exploration of 3D printed food aims to see if this technology can be utilized to provide astronauts with more variety, enhanced nutrition, texture and flavour in meals during long space missions. “The printers will combine powders to produce food that has the structure and texture of actual food.” It may conjure up images of Star Trek for many, but the possibilities of creating food and even entire meals through the ‘digital space’ is probably closer than we may dare to think!
Elevating this type of technology away from the niche and the novel highlights the deeper rooted benefits it could pose in the future. Such as; how could we utilize these developments to redefine ‘supply and demand’? Could we cut food waste in the future? Find a way around distribution issues? Or, even start to tackle famine?
It seems that now designers and scientist have had space to ‘play’, its time to understand the real benefits such technologies could pose in the future of food development.
Well it’s official, the summer wardrobe has been packaged away, and the long boots and thick tights have made their wintery appearance! I can think of nothing better than snuggling up on the sofa with my knitting and a massive mug of hot chocolate at the end of a cold commute home! So what better time to take a look at some of the wonderful ways the world of knit and hand craft had been translated at London Design Festival last year!
Bigger is better
Scaled up chunky knit and weave creating bold and familiar textures formed a clear trend. From cushions to seating and rugs; large textures become highly tactile giving a sense of warmth and comfort.
Knit and weave certainly doesn’t mean plain! Colour, texture and pattern combinations form bold statements, translating traditional techniques into modern pieces that stimulate the eye and sense of touch.
Folk art inspired
Folk art and craft techniques reworked into larger scale and new product applications giving a sense of nostalgia, showing off the beauty of stripped back decorative techniques of past times.
From string to surface
Yarn and rope manipulation crosses boundaries from the decorative nature of soft toys and soft furnishings, to integrated functional and structural applications of seating.
It seems you can’t open a tech magazine these days without some mention of 3D printing. But is it all hype or has the technology really developed into something that will transform the lives of designers, manufacturers and consumers?
Mark Hester, PDD’s Principal of Design Development was invited to share his views on a panel at the Engineering Design show which he followed up with a visit to an exhibition at London’s Design Museum called ‘The Future is Here: A New Industrial Revolution‘. In this post he reflects on the controversy surrounding 3D printing.
According to a survey conducted by the Design Museum in conjunction with Ipsos Mori, 71 percent of people know nothing at all or very little about 3D printing. So I was curious when Paul Fanning, editor of Eureka magazine, invited me to share my views on the subject with engineering designers at a conference running alongside the Engineering Design Show. What questions would this audience have about a technology that is new to the high street but has been around as a professional tool for over a decade?
It turned out that the hottest issues for this group of about 100 designers were:
When is it the wrong tool to use?
Does it really have value as a manufacturing process?
What do we need to know about its future?
In answering those questions along with my fellow panellists I noticed two trends…
Firstly, there are already situations in which 3D printing is a viable manufacturing process. Stijn De Rijck from Materialise described how they were the first to make a bespoke orthopaedic guide using 3D printing a few years ago. Now they process orders for about 3000 guides per month. The benefits to the surgeons and patients are obvious and there is no other cost-effective way to manufacture these one-off surgical tools.
Image credit: 3trpd.co.uk
You might have seen the Commonwealth Games 2014 Queen’s baton on the news recently. This was designed to combine traditional Scottish craftsmanship in the elm handle with the latest in additive manufacturing for the complex, organic lattice of Titanium around the top.
Image credit: Femur Stool, Assa Ashuach Studio
My visit to the Design Museum confirmed that 3D printing is not just about making things quickly. Combined with other digital technologies designers are able to produce things from the outer edges of their imagination. 3D CAD is being supplemented by coding algorithms that are able to generate highly complex yet constrained forms. This is illustrated in the work by Assa Ashuach which is on display at the exhibition.