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PD+I 2014 Conference, London

Inspirational speakers, great dialogue and critical design themes: PD+I 2014 had the mix that makes industrial designers want to come back year after year. Robert Brunner, Richard Seymour, John Hegarty, Paul Flowers and Gadi Amit were some of the thought leaders we brought together in May 2014 for the fourth PD+I conference. Watch the highlights video and read our review articles below to see what you missed. Contact Ben Blackmore to hear about the 2015 conference.

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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

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Robert Brunner to open PD+I 2014

9 May 2014

Robert Brunner, founder of US design group Ammunition, is a sought-after design thinker who is regularly interviewed by the American media, including the New York Times. That’s because Ammunition is behind one of the great product design successes of the past five years: Beats by Dr Dre’s headphones and audio products. With Beats by Dr Dre hitting the news as a takeover target for that other design leader Apple, we think our timing is perfect in getting Robert over to our PD+I 2014 conference in London this month. Come and hear Robert make the keynote speech on design leadership on the opening day May 22 – find out how to register for PD+I 2014.

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Inside the corporate machine

29 April 2014

The difficulty for design teams to get recognition in large corporations is a challenge regularly raised at the PD+I conferences. It is the focus of an important session at PD+I 2014 taking place in London on 22-23 May. Titled Making Stuff Happen Inside Corporations, the discussion involves Pierre-Yves Panis (pictured), Design & User Experience Vice President, Orange; Gavin Procter, Director Design Innovation, Philips Consumer Lifestyle; and Dee Cooper, Director at Decide Consulting and former Product and Services Director at Virgin Atlantic Airways.

At PD+I 2013, Cooper discussed the pressures of getting approval for design decisions during her time at Virgin Atlantic. Delegates at PD+I 2012 probably remember the standout presentation by Louis Kim, vice president of the Advanced Platforms Group at Hewlett-Packard. Kim told the conference that “designers have to be organisational warriors” in order to exert influence at the highest levels.

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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. Some nominations could be included in either the Digital, Graphic or Product categories. 
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 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. Read our feature article.

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