ives product design

By working together you are stronger & smarter

One of the most invaluable pieces of information I learnt before I went into business was this: "You can't do it all by yourself". The excellent Business Start Up book by Sara Williams (Financial Times Guides, ISBN-139781292175867) reinforces this point. Very early on in the process of starting my own business I had to sit down and do some evaluation of my own strengths and my weaknesses. Don't underestimate the value to be gained in such an exercise. It's far better to be honest with yourself at the outset than to struggle on with things that are not your domain or particular skill set. I am very grateful that I was introduced to a great accountant at the beginning of my small business venture. The investment has already proved worthwhile.

Credit: Alex Read, Bamb Creative

Credit: Alex Read, Bamb Creative

Anyone developing a new product shouldn't underestimate the importance of having a cohesive brand identity and social media presence. That's where it becomes useful to work alongside people whose business it is to do that kind of thing. Luckily for me I just happen to work alongside some very talented creative media professionals at Cohub at Eastbourne.

 

Credit: Phil Burrowes, Avant Photographic

Credit: Phil Burrowes, Avant Photographic

Just recently I have had the pleasure to do some work on product branding with Alex Read from Bamb Creative. Branding and product naming is something I have been involved with in the past but I have to confess its not my area of real expertise. This is when it pays to recognise your own strengths & weaknesses. By engaging a person (or team) whose specialty is the area in which you are needing assistance you will unlock many different approaches and skills that'd simply take too long to develop on your own. Expertise of course does come at a price but you have to see past the initial cost and see it in terms of the 'value added' to the overall project or product. See it as more of an investment. A great product design or a strong and cohesive brand will pay back your initial investment many times over once your product(s) starts to sell.

Working together over the course of a couple of hours Alex helped me to map out a whole range of words connected with the product I'd been working on. Some were quite direct and literal, others were more abstract. Over the course of the session it became really useful to focus on products key attributes and words associated with those attributes.

Following Alex's advice we concluded the session after a couple of hours, took numerous photos of the scribbles we'd made on the Cohub writing wall and headed home. Over the course of the next few days Alex kept me up to date on the progress of the design. Effective communication between designer and client is so important in any collaborative process. Most of the ideas were exchanged on Slack (I recommend you check it out) before the next meeting to finalise the small, but all important details.

The finished product, seen below, captures what the new product is all about. It is condense, simplified. The dropping of the double 'd' in Puddle is a subtle but deliberate shortening of the word giving a clue to the stripped back form of the new product we were working with.

Just by engaging with Bamb Creative it was possible to quickly formalise a new product brand and identity. Establishing an identity early on in new product development is key in these fast moving days of multi platform social media. We consume far more visual / digital content than ever before so having a strong & memorable identity is crucial to helping to develop brand awareness or attract potential investors in your idea. Pudle is now out there on Instagram and Facebook circulating and creating interest. As the Pudle project progresses it'll now become possible to add content and build upon the story that has been started. It was an invaluable experience for me to learn some new tips & tricks from a fellow designer. I certainly learned a lot, I hope that Alex & Bamb Creative in turn picked up a few benefits in return. It can certainly be said that by working together you are both stronger & smarter.

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So... you've have an idea for a product... what next?

So, that eureka moment comes along once in a while. You get a great idea for a new product but you struggle to do anything with it because you don't know what to do next. You have two choices: forget about it (and regret later) or do something about it. Some new product ideas will hit road blocks or obstacles along the way but how will you ever find out if you never begin that journey? Here's my advice on what to do next.

Take 3 simple steps to make your idea happen:

DO SOME BASIC RESEARCH

It's always a good idea to do some basic research and the web is a great tool for this. Ask yourself "why hasn't it been done before?" Or alternatively if your idea is an improvement "what makes my idea better?"

"Any new product wishing to secure a patent will have to prove itself to be a new idea or be able to offer an inventive step over an existing one. It's good to be clear on what benefits your product offers from the start."

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SKETCH, DOODLE, DRAW - GET SOMETHING TANGIBLE ON PAPER

Don't worry if you haven't sketched before. Even the most awkward doodles will help you to rationalise some of your own thoughts. Even if you feel you can't sketch try and capture as many ideas on paper in words. No one should laugh at your attempts - communication is the key. 

"Sketching out ideas or capturing key words will help to solidify your idea - if you are going to consult a product designer this will help kick start the development process.

 

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GET SOME PROFESSIONAL ADVICE

This is where you need to consult a product designer. Be mindful of the fact that you should have an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) in place before you divulge any information about the key points of your idea for a new product.

Using a product designer at an early stage of development could be key to securing funding or finding partners to buy in to your idea. 

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See the links below to learn more about product development packages or to download my NDA.

"By offering Product Development Packages a client can choose when to engage my services whether it be at the outset, Stage 1 or further down the development path."


The value of Design to the UK economy

Credit: alexander-filonchik (Unsplash)

Credit: alexander-filonchik (Unsplash)


What does the Design sector actually contribute to the UK economy? Much of the media only focuses on the headline grabbing big earners like the banking & finance sectors. While its true that the financial sector has seen staggering growth over the last 30 years the growth or value of other sectors goes largely ignored.

The media largely chooses to dumb down its content to a repeatable sound-bite, you could say almost a tweet. Proper detail is skimmed over in a flimsy and patronising way. It might be easy to be sucked in to believing that its only the banks that are driving our economy these days. That simply isn't true and as someone that has worked in manufacturing and design sectors over the last 20 years I am always proud of the contributions I have made to the GDP through creating designs to be made and sold - even better - to be exported. Manufacturing and agriculture still contribute a significant income for the UK despite the spin pointing us to finance, banking & service sectors.

To counter the spin it was refreshing to read through the Design Council report detailing the contribution of the design sector to the UK economy. The report was first published in October 2015 (see a link to it lower down) and in its 80 pages it contains some very encouraging statistics for those working in the multitude of disciplines that make up the UK design sector. Now the cynic in you might say "Well, isn't this just spin & hype of a different kind? The Design Council blowing its own trumpet." Yes, indeed you could. However the report isn't just a series of attention grabbing stats, no media style tweets, there's a lot of depth and research behind the figures. In fact there is a separate section on the Design Council website on how the figures were collated if stats & numbers are your bag. (http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/news-opinion/importance-measuring-economic-value-design

As a Product Designer I was pleased to read that the Design (product & industrial) category has grown between 2009-2013, increasing by 17.1%. It falls some way behind the boom in the Design (digital) sector but it is growth non the less. This is all despite a contraction in the number of firms operating in the Design (product & industrial) sector. This has shrunk by -18.8% between 2010-2014. Worrying circumstances for a freelance Product Designer you might think? No, I don't see it that way. What I read is positive - although the number of firms in the sector has contracted in the space of 4 years the value of the contribution to the UK economy has grown. In other words there might be fewer of us but our "value-added" is greater. This is great news and mirrors the aim of my own consultancy - helping clients to generate revenue for their business by bringing products to market. You can learn more about how this is done by reading about the Development Partnerships available.


Credit: Design Council

Credit: Design Council


Other stats which made for pleasing and encouraging reading included:

  • The design economy generated £71.7bn in gross value added (GVA), equivalent to 7.2% of total GVA.

  • Between 2009 -2013 the design economy GVA grew at a faster rate than the UK average.

  • Workers with a design element to their work were 41% more productive than the average. Each delivers £47,400 in output (GVA per worker) compared with £33,600 across the rest of the economy.

The report also went on to state:

  • The design economy is concentrated in London and, to a lesser extent, the South East of England. More than one in five design workers, and one in four design intensive firms (where 30% or more of the workforce were employed in design occupations), are found in London.

I am pleased to report (based on my own experience) that new creative design led businesses are growing in the South East. In fact outside of London the South East is the next largest concentration of design businesses, above the national average. Looking at page 65 you can see that Hastings has jumped a colossal 166 places to become ranked as the second biggest concentration of design businesses.

The growth of creative & design sector jobs in the South East will (hopefully) continue to grow. New events like the upcoming Huddle conference in Eastbourne will help to sustain and nurture the growth in the region.

Get involved with your design community

Get involved with your design community

On the whole (without getting too sucked in by the spin or trumpet blowing) I think the UK Design sector has reason to be pleased with itself and I for one am looking forward to continue to be part of that growth for many years to come.

If you want to read the report in full you can download it from the Design Council website: http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/resources/report/design-economy-report

 


The Design Council video gives a succinct overview in under 2 minutes if you haven't got time to read the report.


pure Li-fi reveals the first luminaire with integrated Li-fi

The pureLiFi dongle is quite big but hardware integration will accelerate acceptance.

(Photo credit: Pure LiFi)

pure LiFi is starting to make inroads into the world of luminaire design with the launch of the first fully integrated LiFi integrated luminaire at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona at the start of March 2017.

I have to admit that as a product designer with a long history in luminaire design that I am intrigued by this technology. It seems to make so much sense in areas that need very high data transfer speeds like offices where lighting is used extensively. Current wifi networks can offer speeds that are up to 54 Megabits per second but this relies on the router being the same speed as the receiving device. 

The beauty of pure LiFi, especially in the office context, is that the emitter (i.e. the light source) is already thought of as part of the infrastructure. Each downlight / troffer luminaire* could service up to 16 people from one source. (*Not in its current format - only when fitted with a pure LiFi broadcast & receiver).

In order to succeed (as the Lux article suggests) pure LiFi needs to get rid of the dongle and push hard for it to become part of the fabric of the hardware many of us use daily; laptops, tablets, phones etc. The other significant development for pure LiFi to succeed is to work closely with luminaire manufacturers to develop the broadcast aspect of the technology. As an ex-colleague of mine (and a controls guru) Sam Woodward once said "in terms of the controls market lighting manufacturers already have their 'beach towels' all over the ceiling space. We own that space." (quoted from memory at the 2014 Lighting Fixture Design Conference).

Its really open to pure LiFi to make that a reality by pushing forward with integration into the tech hardware and by partnering with the 'owners' of the ceiling space - the lighting manufacturers. I will watch with interest how this develops.


Triumph Bonneville Bobber

Triumph have just launched the latest derivative of their enormously successful Modern Classics series. Anyone that has kept their eye on the reincarnated Triumph bikes will have become familiar with their Modern Classics range comprising the Bonneville T100, the Thruxton, the (new) Street Cup & the Scrambler. That family of retro inspired bikes has now been joined by the new Bonneville Bobber.

Triumph Modern Classics 2017

Since the brand was reborn under the visionary leadership of John Bloor Triumph has gone from strength to strength. Just as the USA was a big market for the original Triumphs of days gone by the new Triumphs are keen to be seen on distant shores. The new Bonneville Bobber is a smart piece of kit aimed at claiming another slice of the retro niche but doing it with a modern twist. With its water-cooled, fuel injected, high torque motor this twin cylinder Bobber is set to upset a few folk in Milwaukee and other parts of the USA where the indigenous Harley Davidson is king.

What might look like a retro bike on the surface is anything but beneath the skin. Triumph have achieved the look of a 'hard tail' bike but the rear of the frame is suspended by a neatly packaged shock absorber almost hidden from view. The deep-set single seat is another iconic piece of Bobber kit, no pillions to be found here, this kind of bike is all about your ride. The fat bodied exhaust pipes have been slashed short make plenty of noise & to give the authentic hot-rod growl you'd expect. However the engine is 'cleaner' thanks to a modern fuel injection system that has been cleverly disguised on all Bonneville derivatives since the Triumph Bonneville SE in 2009. The throttle is even fly by wire. All the new tech has been very sensitively packaged giving this new 'old' bike an air of authenticity. The details I could expand upon are just too numerous to mention for a short blog.

As you'd expect with a bike of this type the range of accessories is extensive (150) but the stock bike is just really very pretty straight off the production line. When I first saw the Triumph Street Triple I remember thinking to myself - one day.... (and yes, I did buy one). The Bonneville Bobber has the same appeal and its sure to be a successful addition to an already successful line up. There are no gaps in the Triumph range now. The Sports bikes, the Street bikes, the Touring bikes, the Adventure bikes, the Cruisers & the Modern Classics range of bikes now provide a bike to suit almost every type of (big bike) rider. Triumph has rightly stayed away from the small cc market where the competition from China, India & other Asian countries is fierce. Like BMW(motorcycles) the marketing and R&D teams at Triumph have understood the needs of their customers and produced machines aimed squarely at a discerning but lucrative market. A market thats full of buyers that want superb quality, latest technology and most importantly they have the means to pay for it.

www.triumphmotorcycles.co.uk

Above: The rather lovely 2017 Triumph Bonneville Bobber  Below: The 81 year old Harley Davidson Knucklehead

Above: The rather lovely 2017 Triumph Bonneville Bobber

Below: The 81 year old Harley Davidson Knucklehead

Knucklehead