Tag Archives: Design

25 Apr

how to plan, develop and deliver a show property

source for image: Adient.com

Well, it’s now only 48 days until the doors open at Neocon 2017…yikes!

Many of our friends in the furniture business are drag racing to the deadline for installation of show properties and prototypes. Wash, rinse and repeat…it’s the same every year.

The furniture industry is not alone in their lean and compressed approach to new product development. Our work with automotive suppliers and consumer products companies is focused on the development of advanced projects, show properties, mock-ups, and prototypes. These are best- in-class companies with brilliant leadership, professional managers, gifted marketers, and fantastic creative and technical teams. Since the downturn, many of these companies have also accumulated significant stockpiles of cash. They have all the resources to do things well and we still find ourselves with tight timing, almost constant scope changes and team misalignment moving from early ideation to completion of show properties.

These are the top three reasons for this condition with a few suggestions for improved team performance and a better outcome to industry shows… Read More

08 Jul

Conor Fredricks joins our family business!

conor_fredricks-1[2]

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

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

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

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

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