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!

31 Mar

Auto Show 2015 | a project case study

Overview

All of our clients struggle with the same challenges; they have limited internal design and engineering resources, too many projects and not enough time to complete them. They are also looking for fresh insights to develop new products that build an emotional connection with the end user. This situation is prevalent across all markets and companies.

The annual North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is held in January in Detroit. Many of our clients begin scrambling in early fall for resources to meet tight timelines and technical challenges to prepare properties and prototypes for the show.

This brief case study follows our work with a key client from September 2014 through the installation of show properties at NAIAS in January 2015.

How we started…

Read More

17 Dec

We’re gonna need a bigger cab…

 

I read several papers each week. Every now and then, an article hits home and prompts reflections on the changing world and our product development business.  The Wall Street Journal article[1] “Uber snags a ride to China with Baidu” affirms fundamental business conditions and highlights several significant challenges for new technologies and emerging markets.

Uber is a technology based, mobile app solution connecting passengers with private drivers in metropolitan areas. It is an alternative to traditional taxis and other modes of public transportation. Their website describes them in this way: “Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers. From our founding in 2009 to our launches in over 200 cities today, Uber’s rapidly expanding global presence continues to bring people and their cities closer.” Read More

04 Nov

Opportunity: Industrial Designer

FDI Logo_small

Although we respect differences between product development disciplines, we are passionate about collaboration between industrial design and engineering. We are looking for a thoughtful, extremely talented industrial designer to join our studio in Grand Haven, MI and help us fundamentally shape products for our clients. Your work will help top Fortune 500 companies across the United States bring new products to life. We want you to play a major part in establishing a design-centered culture in our company. Read More

04 Nov

Opportunity: Product Design Engineer

FDI Logo_small

Although we respect differences between product development disciplines, we are passionate about collaboration between industrial design and engineering. We are looking for a thoughtful, extremely talented design engineer to join our studio in Grand Haven, MI and help us fundamentally shape products for our clients. Your work will help top Fortune 500 companies across the United States bring new products to life. We want you to play a major part in establishing a design-centered culture in our company. Read More

27 Oct

Bongo: A Case Study in Blue Ocean Strategy

Bongo: A Case Study in Blue Ocean Strategy

We work with clients across a broad range of activities to accelerate the development of user-focused, differentiated, smart product solutions. This case study highlights the full cycle development of low-voltage power solutions for applications in the retail environment.

we help our clients sail into blue ocean.

Several years ago we sparked on an opportunity to partner with one of our clients in the retail space. Harbor Industries is a third generation, privately held Michigan enterprise focused on the design and build of point-of-purchase displays for the retail environment.

Harbor identified product diversification as a key to their long-term success in the demanding retail industry. The company has been successful over three generations in meeting the needs of retail customers in a range of markets and product categories. Read More

05 Sep

Spontaneous Collaboration

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Spontaneous Collaboration

Fredricks Design has built a business on the ability to collaborate around solving product development challenges. We regularly do this using internal brainstorm sessions and structured workshops involving participants from clients’ teams and manufacturing resources. We’ve recognized the benefit of putting key people together and the resulting synergy. The value of these “formal” gatherings is clearly documented with stacks of concept sketches and lists of opportunities to explore further.

But sometimes collaboration occurs more organically, is unscheduled and unstructured and is initiated around a very specific task or problem. Often this spontaneous collaboration occurs when someone is trying to work outside of their skillset or in unfamiliar territory. Sometimes an idea just won’t “click,” but they feel the drive to push-on until a solution is achieved. Read More

17 Jul

A Kindergarten Mindset

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Some of our best concepts sprout when we are in a kindergarten mindset.

Our Clients come to us with wildly diverse challenges. Sometimes the problems are well defined and other times we are working to define the end users’ needs. In either case (or anything in between), an open mind and free thinking are keys to effectively exploring new ideas. Often finding the best solutions to the biggest challenges is achieved by an unconventional team and a change of scenery. That’s where we come in…

For years, Fredricks has understood the value in approaching daunting problems with an agile and open mindset; great concepts often grow from unexpected ideas. Our Workshops are designed to provide Clients with a chance to escape from the day-to-day operations and distractions of the office: the freedom and tools to generate these unexpected ideas. Read More

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