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PD+I 2015 Conference, London

The PD+I conference is back on 20-21 May 2015 at a brand new London venue and – building on the great work of Kevin McCullagh in the first four years – a new conference chair, Chris Lefteri. Chris is an internationally recognized authority on materials and their application in design, as well as editor and creative director of Ingredients magazine, and founder and owner of Chris Lefteri Design. Watch the highlights video and read our review articles below for a taste of the inspirational 2014 event. Contact Tom Harris to hear about the 2015 conference.


Seymour and Hegarty on how to persuade the client

5 June 2014 - A dialogue between design and advertising agency giants Richard Seymour (Seymourpowell) and John Hegarty (Bartle Bogle Hegarty) was a pinnacle at PD+I 2014, where they shared their experience and insights into overcoming obstacles presented by clients, writes David Eldridge.

Seymour said: “Unless you can provide [the manager] with a different way of doing it, that’s going to make them look good in their business, it’s not going to happen.”

“You can do something they can’t. That gives you power,” said Hegarty.

Brunner at PD+I 2014: Now designers are the heroes

4 June 2014 - Industrial designers have greater potential for influencing corporates than they believe, according to speakers at PD+I 2014, who suggested ways and means to “Make stuff happen”, the main theme at the London conference in May, writes David Eldridge.

“Five years ago in San Francisco, all the heroes were technologists. Today designers are the heroes,” said Robert Brunner, one time head of industrial design at Apple, before he founded Ammunition in the US and became chief designer at Beats by Dr Dre (until its takeover by Apple in May).

“This is your time – take advantage of it,” Brunner told the PD+I audience in the opening keynote.

Digital design breaks out of the box at DOTY 2014

31 March 2014 - It must be increasingly difficult for the Design Museum to allot nominations to categories in its Designs of the Year (DOTY) awards. It created a Digital category to recognise great work in new media, but this new context for design is proving to be leaky, writes David Eldridge. The 2014 nominations include Metro Trains: Dumb Ways to Die, which is a smartphone game, interactive posters, a book and more, designed by McCann Melbourne to make young people think about rail safety. It’s in the Digital category, but could have been placed in the Graphics section.

And what about the Touch Board – is this Digital, Graphic or Product? Designed by Bare Conductive, the Touch Board is a way to turn any surface into an interface, by means of painted and conductive images linked by electrodes to the functioning object. At the DOTY 2014 show, you can make sounds by playing a keyboard painted onto the exhibition wall, or touch a switch graphic to turn on a lamp.

As with anything new, designers are exploring the possibilities of digital design and when old boundaries are met they are being crossed. The Lego Calendar, another nomination in the Digital category, is a playful project which has a clear physical presence – a wall planner made of Lego where colour coded bricks represent time spent on projects. Take a photo of the planner (pictured above) with a smartphone and all of the events and timings are synchronised to an online calendar.

In The Making: Barber Osgerby share their wonder at frozen objects

27 January 2014 - In The Making is the latest in a growing number of design exhibitions, seminars and books that examine production and materials, treating the process in a similar way to the finished object, writes David Eldridge. There are two differentiators with the Design Museum’s new show: the objects are shown at a part-way point in their manufacture; and the collection has been curated by Barber Osgerby, the pair who have joined the UK’s design elite since designing the Olympic Torch for the 2012 games.

“We are in love with and invigorated by the making process,” said Jay Osgerby at a preview where he and Edward Barber showed journalists around the small exhibition. The 25 objects they have selected range widely from an Underground train’s aluminium face to a rack of pencils, yet they are all frozen in the process of becoming a finished product.

Design Chain @ K shows plastics in full bloom

31 October 2013 - The Design Chain @ K conference, organised by Crain Communications, which also runs the PD+I conference and website, took place on 21-22 October at Messe Düsseldorf, Germany. This was the first design-centred conference at the K show, the leading exhibition for polymer material suppliers. Angie DeRosa at Plastics News reported on some of the speakers at the conference.

The iPhone 5c illustrates a point several speakers made at Design Chain @ K: that materials, chief among them plastics, will help drive consumer stories. Individualization and unique branding are where Apple excels, said conference Chairman Chris Lefteri. "What they've done a very good job at is to tell us how we feel," Lefteri said. "The future is built on telling consumer stories." Materials are part of the story: "Plastics did change the way the world looks. But plastics will not do this in the future. Plastics will play a different role."

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Chris Lefteri looks towards PD+I

12 January 2015 - Chris Lefteri, chair of our PD+I 2015 conference, says he will build on the great work done by Kevin McCullagh and our event team in the first four years of PD+I. “PD+I has always had a high level of quality, with some really great speakers over the years, and I want to build on this, particularly at an international level,” said Lefteri, whose career has spanned industrial design, books, magazines, academia and materials consultancy. “At the end of the day, people are hungry for knowledge and want to learn, and PD+I is a great place in which to do this.” Read the press release. PD+I 2015 takes place at the America Square Conference Centre in London on 20-21 May.

Ian Callum is given Minerva Medal

23 December 2014 - Ian Callum (above), director of design at Jaguar, has been awarded the prestigious Minerva Medal by the Chartered Society of Designers for his outstanding contribution to automotive design. Callum has led the design renaissance at Jaguar in his 15 years at the company. He started his career as a designer with Ford, moving to manager of the Ghia design studio in Turin. He went on to manage TWR Design, before joining Jaguar. CSD said Callum is the first car designer to be awarded the Minerva Medal since Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro in 1981.

Pains, strains and automobiles

27 November 2014 - Two leading lights from the PD+I conferences, James Woudhuysen and Kevin McCullagh, have recently published articles on transportation – a key arena for 21st century debates on sustainability and innovation. In James’ article, he decries retrogressive attempts to move us away from the supposed evil of cars and planes, and offers six arguments for innovation in transport, including why you can’t manage the demand for transport down. Kevin’s article on the Telegraph’s website suggests innovation will happen at the individual level, through smartphone apps and internet-connected vehicles. Electric vehicles, though, are likely to “remain niche lifestyle accessories for the rich due to their expense, charging hassle and flat battery concerns”, he says.

PD+I is back in 2015 for 5th anniversary

21 November 2014 - Our PD+I conference is returning to London for 2015 with a brand new venue and – building on the great work of Kevin McCullagh in the first four years – a new conference chair, Chris Lefteri. Chris is an internationally recognized authority on materials and their application in design, as well as editor and creative director of Ingredients magazine, and founder and owner of Chris Lefteri Design Ltd – through which he has worked with several Fortune 100 companies and major design studios across Europe, the US and Asia. The unique two-day conference will be held on the 20th and 21st May at London’s America Square conference facility.

Ive laments graduate skills gap

17 November 2014 - A complaint that regularly arises at our PD+I conferences is that product design graduates often lack the skills that employers are looking for. Jonathan Ive (right) at Apple has added his criticism that design schools are equipping students with CAD skills and little in the way of understanding physical products. "So many of the designers that we interview don't know how to make stuff, because workshops in design schools are expensive and computers are cheaper," said Ive, in Dezeen’s report of his speech at the Design Museum, London.

Design agencies show confidence

23 October 2014 - The UK design agency sector is enjoying a period of renewed strength, according to an annual survey of Design Business Association members. Half of agencies are aiming for business growth of 10% or more, whilst a further 20% are hoping for growth of 8-10%. Some 80% of agencies report that business is growing or solid compared with 73% last year, according to the DBA’s charge out rates and salary levels survey. Other positive indicators are growing staff levels and moderate wage inflation. “These figures demonstrate that after the lean years of the recession, business confidence is improving,” says Deborah Dawton, Chief Executive of the DBA.  

Priestmangoode takes the challenge of designing new tube trains

10 October 2014 - Paul Priestman spoke at our PD+I 2013 conference, revealing how the user experience is just as vital to designing for transportation as it is to product design. All the knowledge accrued by Priestmangoode in its design work for airliners will be needed for its new project working on the design of new tube trains on the London Undergound – where the expression from passengers about their experience is often one of anger. But the very public project offers an opportunity as well as a challenge.

Paul says: “Transport for London wanted the New Tube for London to celebrate the great history of transport design in London, whilst acting as a beacon of innovative 21st century public transport. We took inspiration from iconic London landmarks and key attributes of British design to create a tube that is beautiful, simple, functional and maintainable.” There is a video of the new tube train designs at Priestmangoode.

Ammunition gains IDEAs

31 July 2014 - Industrial designers are riding the crest of California’s tech wave, Robert Brunner told the PD+I 2014 audience in May. He backed this up with the Beats headphones story and other products his company Ammunition has designed. One of them, Square Stand (pictured), has won gold in the 2014 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA), announced by the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) this month.

The Square Stand transforms an iPad into a point of sale device, allowing stores to swipe customers’ cards to complete sales transactions. Ammunition’s work on the new Square Reader was also awarded with a silver IDEA, as was its design of the Nook GlowLight, the latest e-reader from Barnes & Noble. Read about all IDEA winners in an article by Plastics News, our sister publication.

BIDA takes education debate to New Designers event

23 July 2014 - British Industrial Design Association (BIDA) launched an Education Special Interest Group at the New Designers event in Islington, London on 2 July. This will become an “outcomes based group that will address and take forward initiatives that will improve the co-operation, understanding and shared interests of industrial design businesses and the leaders of industrial/product design courses, particularly at HE level”, said BIDA CEO Mark Roelofsen. Stephen Green from Brunel University said: “The relationship between design in higher education and industry has become a priority subject for UK wide discussion prompted by various catalysts – not always positive.” (Pic: New Designers)

Brunel shows the value of student collaborative projects

27 June 2014 - Tributes were paid to Brunel University’s student-industry collaborative projects at this year’s Made in Brunel showcase event in London in June. A session showed that SMEs as well as larger companies can benefit from the work of design students on placement.

Brunel has provided four interns over three years, all of them “very talented”, said Pete Cartlidge, director at Fuse, a 10-person, London-based toy design and development agency. John Burke from Cambridge-based Team Consulting, which designs medical devices, said his company benefited from having the perspective of young interns who show how the company can be an aspirational place to work. 

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