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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 bblackmore@crain.com to hear about the 2015 conference.



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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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Gadi Amit talks about wearables

27 March 2014

PD+I 2014 speaker Gadi Amit of NewDealDesign features in BloombergBusinessweek’s Design Issue 2014. There’s a video on the magazine’s site where Amit makes some general comments about industrial design, but more interesting are his views on wearable tech in the brief article. He mentions some of the challenges of designing the Fitbit wrist device, and expresses concern that Google Glass wearers may not communicate naturally with their eyes.

At our May conference, Amit will take part in a session on “UX: Bridging the physical-digital interface”, along with Jason Mesut at Plan and Jim Blyth at The Alloy. Amit wowed the crowd at PD+I 2012, showing the innovative and highly desirable Lytro camera which NewDeal designed. 


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PolyOne supports colour creativity

13 March 2014

PolyOne, gold sponsor at PD+I 2014, worked with designers at Gobie H2O to develop a thermoplastics elastomer (TPE) material for the coloured parts of Gobie’s new water bottle (pictured above). The GLS Versaflex TPE material and OnColor colourants used on the bottle’s patented FlexFlo squeeze grip, non-slip base and finger-loop are recyclable, dishwasher-safe, and FDA-compliant.

Ari Hoffman, chief operating officer and co-founder of Gobie H2O, said: “With several reusable water bottles already on the market, we turned to PolyOne for a high-performing material that would provide competitive advantages and differentiation.”

PolyOne, and its group companies GLS and ColorMatrix, last year launched InVisiO, a series of creative resources and technical support services focused on maximising the use and performance of colour in polymer materials. “Working across the entire design process, InVisiO provides market, technological and operational insight to inspire creative innovation,” says PolyOne.

InVisiO provides insights into emerging seasonal and market trends, and colour forecasts such as the Colour Inspiration 2014 brochure. Among InVisiO’s resources and services are: expertise in resin/colour selection and product harmonization; advice on decoding aesthetic norms and consumer preferences; innovative concepts in colour, visual and surface effects, form and material performance; product prototyping, 3D printing and trial support; colour portfolio management; and polymer material and processing expertise.

In a PD+I 2014 session on CMF: Materials Innovation, Marcel Dartee, global marketing director sustainable solutions & biomaterials at PolyOne, will take part in a discussion with Monica Dalla Riva, European Design Lab manager at 3M and Peter Booth, founder of Tin Horse.

Dartee also spoke at our Design Chain conference in Germany last year. In a joint presentation with Chris Lefteri, he discussed a solar power charger project with Xindao of the Netherlands. In the Sunshine Solar Charger, the plastic parts are made from PolyOne's ReSound polymers. This is a family of polymer blends, where durable polymers such as polycarbonate or ABS are blended with polymers derived from renewable sources, such as polylactic acid.


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PD+I will be of material benefit

7 March 2014

CMF: Materials Innovation is a session at PD+I 2014 which brings together industrial designers and materials experts to explore the ways in which companies can leverage the potential for product innovation through manufacturing processes and materials. Speakers are Monica Dalla Riva, European Design Lab manager at 3M; Peter Booth (pictured above), founder of Tin Horse; and Marcel Dartee, global marketing director sustainable solutions & biomaterials at PolyOne. Find out more about the conference sessions at PD+I 2014.


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