Pains, strains and automobiles
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 (above) 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
(Pic: New Designers)
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.”
Design education was a key session at our PD+I 2014 conference in May. Stephen Green and BIDA chair Gus Desbarats contributed their views in a panel discussion.
“BIDA is keen to bring this intersection to the fore again,” said Roelofsen, adding “the seismic changes in the nature of professional design activities, the funding environment for students and HEIs, the career pathway opportunities, the local and global competitive market for design activities and initiatives in professional development are all elements in the debate to be had”.
“These can all be viewed as opportunities,” said Green. “Yet the flipside is also familiar; a fragmented profession, concern about the relevance, numbers and quality of graduates, challenges in managing and implementing change amongst others. Key to making a difference is getting good levels of consensus, planning, and the implementation of practical forward looking initiatives.”
Topics covered by the Special Interest Group include National Occupational Standards, accreditation and professional development.
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. Brunel design student Peter Sheppard said it was great to have a live brief from Fuse for a toy that is now being evaluated by a leading company.
John Burke from Cambridge-based Team Consulting, which has about 60 employees engaged in design and development of 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.
Brunel student Oscar Daws worked on Team projects that included a packaging concept based on the Japanese principles of ‘poka-yoke’ that aims to minimise device user error. Instead of an instruction leaflet, Team’s poka-yoke packaging presents users with each part of the device in order, with clear graphical instructions on how to construct and use the device at every stage (image above).
The perspective of a larger company came from Crown Packaging. Cormac Neeson, director of corporate affairs, said Crown had worked with Brunel for more than 20 years and recruited 40 graduates from the university’s design and engineering courses. In a student collaboration this year, Neeson said Crown was impressed by a concept for a smart can for sun cream that has embedded sensors to alert users when to top up.
Brunel graduates will have another career option when the incubator Central Research Laboratory opens, according to Andrew Ward, Brunel’s director of corporate relations. He said that Brunel will be a mentoring partner for design and engineering start-ups that locate at the facility, which is part of the former EMI Vinyl Factory being redeveloped in Hayes, London.
“We can say to graduating students – Don’t go and work for Dyson tomorrow, come and work with us for eight or 12 months,” he said.
The Central Research Laboratory will have space for design entrepreneurs plus shared space, including a 3D fabrication facility. “In 10-15 years time, we want the CRL to be a book end to Tech City in east London,” he said.
At our PD+I 2014 conference in May, Stephen Green, Brunel’s programme director for integrated product design, spoke in an educational panel session.
Stand up for manufacturing
13 June 2014
At PD+I 2014 in May, James Woudhuysen (pictured above) laid into the arguments of environmentalists who blame the planet’s ills on the manufacture and consumption of too much “stuff”. As at previous PD+I events, he made the design audience think hard about assumptions and attitudes that underly the perceived wisdom of the day. In an article “Seven reasons we should celebrate manufacturing”, published on the Spiked website, James shares his thoughts on which areas of technology and manufacturing have the potential to bring great benefits to people – from printed materials and electronics to automated recycling.
Design leaders inspire at PD+I 2014
5 June 2014
Our PD+I 2014 conference took place in May and feedback we got from delegates was that the event was even better than in the first three years. The word “inspiring” cropped up in tweets from delegates who commented on the long series of design leaders who spoke over two days in London.
We have written some review articles of presentations and panel discussions:
Richard Seymour and John Hegarty on how to persuade the client
Robert Brunner says designers have replaced the technologists as heroes