08 Jul

Conor Fredricks joins our family business!


We have some great news to share…

Conor Fredricks has joined our family business. Conor graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design in May 2016 and was heavily recruited by design firms and corporations. We reminded him through the rigorous interview process that his name is on the door at Fredricks!

Conor completed his studies at the Kendall Campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Manchester, England in May 2016. He has been preparing for his new role with Fredricks since his formative years hanging around our studio. In addition to his wicked sketching abilities, he also has excellent rendering and Solidworks capabilities. Conor really likes building things and working through manufacturing challenges. We are really lucky that he decided to join us.

The addition of Conor to our core team in Grand Haven, Michigan brings us to four family members and two generations actively involved in the company. Ben Fredricks joined us in 2009 and will be key in Conor’s development working with our team.

Please join us in our celebration of this key milestone with Fredricks! A world of thanks to all of our Clients, advisors, suppliers and team members for making our success possible over the past 32+ years!

22 Apr

Fredricks Design Review 3: Artificial Intelligence

In our previous Fredricks Design Reviews, we’ve talked about virtual reality and augmented reality. Now, let’s get into an even fuzzier area of technology and philosophy: artificial intelligence. The term “artificial intelligence” was coined by a computer scientist named John McCarthy in 1955 to describe “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines”.1 Simply stated, artificial intelligence can be thought of as people trying to make computers that “think” like humans: receive some sensory input, make a decision, and react accordingly. We’ll call it “AI” from here on out.

I am by no means an expert in this field, but the implications of AI have led me down a rabbit hole of learning and questioning as new technology often does. Certainly, there are more questions than answers when it comes to the impacts of this rapidly growing field. I keep circling back to a fundamental issue that I’d like to discuss today. Will artificial intelligence be good or bad for humanity? Read More

15 Mar

Fredricks Design Review 2: Augmented Reality

In our last Fredricks Design Review, we took a look at Google Cardboard, an inexpensive gateway to virtual reality. Today, we’re going to dig a little deeper into another reality bender called “augmented reality”. “But whoa, bro. Isn’t all reality augmented?” you might say. That’s a rabbit hole that neither of us have time for today so we’re going to focus on an area of technology called “augmented reality”.

Augmented reality is, very simply stated, a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data1. Got it? Think of it as a clear Read More

25 Feb

Fredricks Design Review 1: Google Cardboard

I had a vivid flashback this morning. During the assembly of a Google Cardboard at my desk, I time-traveled to 1986 and relived the unboxing of my first Nintendo console. The simplicity of the setup and the anticipation of hours of novel entertainment through technology found some very common ground in my mind, triggering that great memory. I’ll never forget the first time the red Nintendo logo popped up on the tube with a satisfying *buh-ding*. The Nintendo was much more difficult to setup than the Cardboard but I was only three years old and the instructions didn’t explicitly say to have the TV on channel 3 (ok, maybe they did but I was way too excited to smash bricks and blast some ducks).

The Cardboard viewer that we ordered for four bones came in a non-descript package without any instructions. A quick search gave me a couple of pointers about the lens orientation (curved side away from your face) and I was up and running in a few minutes having preinstalled the Cardboard app on my Droid Turbo II. Read More

14 Jan

CES 2016 insights


Photo by John F. Martin for Delphi.

A visit to CES is like taking a trip to Europe. You have to choose where you spend your time or you run the risk of experiential overload. There is a lot to see and too little time. A high degree of patience is required for any visit to Las Vegas. There are people everywhere and dinner reservations are at a premium. These, of course, are developed world problems and I was lucky to be able to experience the show over two busy days.

CES is set up in 2.74m square feet of space housed in three different venues from the north of the Strip to the south end. There were 3800 companies exhibiting and the show attracted approximately 175k visitors from North America, Europe, Asia and many other countries. The investment in manpower, travel, marketing, show design, exhibit fabrication, setup and tear down must be an astronomical number. It’s really amazing that anyone with business credentials, a nominal fee for entry and the desire to walk miles every day can experience everything the show has to offer. Read More

01 Dec

How to construct an effective design brief.


“We benchmark in/out of market, gather voice of the consumer (VOC) and intelligence to form a project brief that outlines goals and problem statements. Our clients sometimes provide the project brief”.

 This quote, from the Discover Phase of our product development process, highlights the importance of a thorough and detailed design brief in early phase product development.

Our work over three decades with some of the world’s best companies has been challenging, rewarding and, admittedly sometimes a bit frustrating. Looking back at our diverse work, we have learned to ask the right questions during the development of a well-constructed design brief. We offer this brief essay to share our key lessons and help improve our work with clients and suppliers. Read More

30 Nov

Ben Fredricks celebrates 6.0 years with our company!

Ben Fredricks joined our family business on November 30, 2009 and it’s been a wonderful journey, so far!

They say that height and talent skip a generation. This is entirely the case in our family. Please note that, Ben is not standing on a soapbox in the photo above.

Ben is a well rounded designer with the ability to sketch, render, model and figure out how things will work when the concepts ultimately go into production. Read More

30 Sep

What is Freespace?

What is Freespace?

It’s the first phase in our product development process and it’s where unmet needs are identified and product ideas begin to surface for future exploration and development. Freespace is a word we came up with to describe the wide open, exploration of unmet needs and end user problems.

This is how we briefly describe Freespace on our website:

“Using primary/secondary research and a preliminary business case, we analyze the market needs and potential with our client to identify the challenges and opportunities ahead”.

 Let’s unpack this description and dive a little deeper into how we work in early phase exploration of unmet needs… Read More

06 Aug

The Story of Telling Our Story

Recently, we launched our revamped Fredricks Design company website. We are very proud to have collectively designed the layout, graphics, and functionality in-house with the assistance of our great IT support guru Nate Beighley from Vortex Networking. Before this endeavor, we collaborated with our internal team and a 3rd party marketing and graphics design resource to develop our marketing materials. Our previous website was clean, beautiful, and functional but we began to realize that our story was not being told as effectively as it could be. After an assessment of our website, brochure, and other marketing materials we came to the conclusion that we needed a new direction and voice. We challenged ourselves to tell our own story and design our own graphics with the goal of succinctly communicating who we are and what we believe. Read More

03 Jun

Jim Biros marks 30 years with Fredricks Design, Inc. today!

Today is a big day for our firm. We are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Jim Biros (the handsome guy on the right) with Fredricks Design!

I run the risk of writing too much about our relationship and I do not want to embarrass Jim. He is a very humble guy!

A brief look back…

Jim joined our company on June 3, 1985. We were a start-up with a few local clients in the car and furniture business. All of our work was done on manual drawing boards with pencils and velum. Jim was one of our first designers trained on digital design tools. Cell phones were not introduced until a few years after Jim joined our company! Looking back, it’s hard to believe the journey we have been on together!

Over the years, our clients and teams have consistently commented on Jim’s contribution to projects through his common sense, practical thinking and problem solving abilities. He is a calming influence in the midst of impossible deadlines and technical challenges.

We’ve not researched how many designers stay with the same company throughout their career but it has to be a really, really small number. We only know that we have been blessed to work with Jim for three decades and we look forward to rounding out our careers together!

Please join us in celebrating Jim’s big day…a world of thanks for all of our work together!

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