15 Jun

Neocon 2018: Blurred Lines

As a product development consultancy, our company works in a range of markets from furniture to theme park rides. When comparing technical projects involving theme park restraints or autonomous automotive interiors to furniture, we typically view furniture design as relativity straight forward. Then there are days we walk through 10 showroom floors filled with nothing but furniture and we are reminded that no design is simple and straight forward. In other words, not all chairs are created equal.

Furniture design is about a user’s environment; it is emotive and primal. We continue to see a trend of blurring the lines between home and office and it has never been more noticeable than now. From texture to color and finishes, we see furniture companies do what they can to differentiate in a market so saturated it’s water-logged. This makes design more important than ever. What makes a chair stand out in a building with thousands? This question is only answered by thorough research, well-balanced design and pointed execution.

As work environments continue to change through new products brought to market it creates new design challenges for future product development. We’ve seen offices open-up in terms of floor plans and desk configurations. In response, we’ve seen walled conference rooms, isolation pods and other creative answers to noisy environments with little privacy. This creates a continuous cycle of new design challenges and constant need for new product development and research.

This continuous cycle of research and product development will continue to focus on user experience. This will always be the driving force for furniture whether it be healthcare, home or office. It is our job as designers and engineers to continue this process for both the users and the companies that rely on us to help bring successful product to market. Constantly evaluating users, environments and products allows us to stay relevant in a fast-paced world and consistently deliver innovative and responsible product.

In competitive job markets, we see spatial and furniture design as a recruiting tool for companies to bring the best talent into their teams. Furniture design is used as a powerful driving force behind a company’s brand identity and a continuation of their culture. All these decisions have a lasting impact that goes far beyond what looks “good” in your office park.

All in all, Neocon serves as our annual memento for how far furniture has come and all the problems we still need to solve. It is truly incredible to see so many different designs for something that, in theory, could be as simple as an elevated surface. This serves as a constant reminder that our design problems, industries and businesses are forever changing and evolving.

(All photos taken while attending Neocon 2018)

Conor Fredricks

Industrial Designer

Fredricks Design, Inc.

Fredricks Design, Inc. is a full-service design and engineering firm based in Grand Haven, Michigan. The firm specializes in working as an extension of the client studio and engineering team to identify the right problems and accelerate development of solutions from early ideation, feasibility, concept development and production of mock-ups, prototypes and show properties. Fredricks works with key Clients in the automotive interiors and seating industries, advanced rides and show action projects for themed attractions, furniture, healthcare and consumer products markets.

31 May

Business Transformation Requires a Fresh Mindset

This is a brief story about business challenges and different ways to develop solutions?

Ms. Smith has recently been promoted to lead her family-owned, West Michigan based company. She grew up in the company before attending an undergrad program and completing her MBA. The leadership team is well established and talented with deep industry experience.

Widget Corp. was founded by her grandfather several decades ago. They manufacture components and sub-assemblies for the automotive industry. The company is financially solid with a backlog of contracts extending over the next two years. Business is good, but there is a lot to worry about for Ms. Smith and her leadership team. Read More

17 May

Fredricks Design, Inc. – Upstream travel leads to downstream success

It’s no secret that a major component of healthcare design is focused on patient comfort in a hospital environment. When grappling with healthcare related design problems we are typically torn between hospital procedure and patient experiences. Take patient freedoms for example. As a patient you want as much personal freedom and access as possible. Having human contact and even getting to the restroom on your own are of the utmost importance and have been proven to reduce recovery time.

They’re also not always easily satisfied. Having guests and human contact isn’t always possible due to procedures, infection control, scheduling, etc. Getting to the restroom independently is a goal to set in many situations but can be a long and dehumanizing road that can be uncomfortable for both patient and caregiver. There are loads of conflicting issues like this one stacked against us when we approach human-centered-design problems.

Four main themes highlighted in a recent study of patient’s pain points were “comfort to facilitate healing, control over the environment and privacy, a sense of connection to the outside world, and access to the things patients need (e.g., their own property, the bathroom, etc.)”(1)

Voice-of-customer (VOC) outlines what standard healthcare products should aim to solve for. The real issue here is most healthcare product is developed on an island.Yes, it may work with a few other products from the companies offering but the underlying issues remain. Therefore, good product development needs to be fed by extensive research, product positioning and data. The further upstream we can begin to understand the system the better. These issues are far too big to be solved by a single product and instead are pointed at the entire environment and user experience. We’re talking about symbiotic product, able to adapt to ever-changing environments, becoming one with another and breathing together.

As we pour through surveys, user group feedback, observation sessions and data we are constantly reminded of the patient’s experience. This leads us to another interesting design problem.If we focus solely on the patient experience, it will likely end in product that is difficult to bring to market at budget. If we solely think about our business case, we will continue to output similar product and never improve our user experience. This, like most things in life is all about finding balance. The better we research and capture the voice of the patient/caregiverwhile making good business decisions based around the limitations and scope of the product, the better our chances of achieving better outcomes for users, OEM’s and hospital systems.

For more in-depth insights into our work in the healthcare market visit our website to review case studies on recent healthcare projects we’ve had the pleasure to be a part of.

  • (1) http://www.healthcaredesignmagazine.com/trends/research-theory/research-matters- what-patients-want/

Conor Fredricks

Industrial Designer

Fredricks Design, Inc.

Fredricks Design, Inc. is a full-service design and engineering firm based in Grand Haven, Michigan. The firm specializes in working as an extension of the client studio and engineering team to identify the right problems and accelerate development of solutions from early ideation, feasibility, concept development and production of mock-ups, prototypes and show properties. Fredricks works with key Clients in the automotive interiors and seating industries, advanced rides and show action projects for themed attractions, furniture, healthcare and consumer products markets.

30 Apr

Fredricks Design, Inc. announces partnership with Siemens

Siemens+Fredricks Partnership

We are delighted to announce our strategic partnership with Siemens to provide product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions, Teamcenter, NX, Solid Edge software to our Clients.

Our partnership with Siemens leverages the range of software, technology and consulting solutions offered by Siemens with our deep experience for application with Client teams in diverse markets. The agreement includes identified companies in Western Michigan, Northern Indiana and Chicago.

Rogerio Miquel will lead the technical offering supported by our research, marketing, design and engineering team and the global Siemens organization.

“This strategic agreement was developed over the past several months based on our belief that we can make a positive impact on product development from early ideation through production release, manufacturing and distribution”, stated Maury Fredricks.

We will work with Client teams to explore systems improvements for business growth, enhanced performance and better profitability. Please stay tuned for future updates and detailed case studies.

Contact us anytime to schedule an exploratory discussion about your current systems and different ways we can work together.

Thanks for our past and future work with your team!

Maury Fredricks

CEO

Fredricks Design, Inc.

Fredricks Design, Inc. is a full-service design and engineering firm based in Grand Haven, Michigan. The firm specializes in working as an extension of the client studio and engineering team to identify the right problems and accelerate development of business and product solutions from early ideation, feasibility, concept development and production of mock-ups, prototypes and show properties. Fredricks works with key Clients to develop automotive cockpits, interiors and seating, advanced rides and show action projects for themed attractions, furniture, healthcare and consumer products.

fredricks.com

design.fredricks.com

 

12 Apr

Fredricks Design, Inc. Mobility Solutions

Welcome to the wild west. As automotive OEM’s continue to push the boundaries of new technology, drive systems and aesthetics in their production vehicles there is a far more exciting paradigm shift in the automotive market place; autonomous vehicles. We are tossing out the playbook on what a car is and what function it really serves. This is an unbelievable time to be a designer in the transportation space. We get to break the mold of automotive interior configurations and decide what will replace them as we drive forward into the future. We’re no longer constrained by the two front seats split with a center console and the 40/20/40 configuration of the back seat we’ve seen in the vehicles of our fathers and their fathers. The canvas is blank and it’s time to pick up the brush once again.

This paradigm shift will begin where all good design projects begin, research. Understanding how users interact and experience a completely new environment is the cornerstone of everything we will develop moving forward. This research will lead us in directions we never could have imagined even a decade ago and with advances in modern technology seemingly moving forward by the day it’s hard to say what the next decade will bring. As “car people” at the forefront of product development we are excited to walk into the unknown and redefine a crucial piece of product that really hasn’t changed much since the late 19th century. The automobile has already done so much in improving the human condition around the globe. It’s time to give back and let the automobile be what it wants to be; a seamless extension of your home, office and self.
For more in-depth insights into our work in the automotive market visit our website to review case studies on recent transportation projects we’ve had the pleasure to be a part of.

Conor Fredricks

Industrial Designer

Fredricks Design, Inc.

Fredricks Design, Inc. is a full-service design and engineering firm based in Grand Haven, Michigan. The firm specializes in working as an extension of the client studio and engineering team to identify the right problems and accelerate development of solutions from early ideation, feasibility, concept development and production of mock-ups, prototypes and show properties. Fredricks works with key Clients in the automotive interiors and seating industries, advanced rides and show action projects for themed attractions, furniture, and consumer products markets.

fredricks.com

design.fredricks.com

 

05 Apr

Fredricks Design, Inc. rides and animated props

As industrial designers and engineers, we spend our time developing products and telling their stories. The story can be focused on our research, our clients, the product, the end- users or even some outside force to drive successful product design. If we picture product development as a film, the underlying story is the script. Just like films, all the stars in Hollywood and the special effects of post production won’t fix a broken script. You can’t fake a story; it either resonates with the viewer or it doesn’t. It’s make or break. There is no market we work in where telling this story is more apparent to outsiders than rides and animated props. We get to draw inspiration from characters, comics and epic films that our end users are already familiar with. We study repetitive forms and visual brand language associated with our story and incorporate it into our design. With the goal of immersing theme park guest into a world they only thought existed on paper or the silver screen.

Conor Fredricks

Industrial Designer

Fredricks Design, Inc.

Fredricks Design, Inc. is a full-service design and engineering firm based in Grand Haven, Michigan. The firm specializes in working as an extension of the client studio and engineering team to identify the right problems and accelerate development of solutions from early ideation, feasibility, concept development and production of mock-ups, prototypes and show properties. Fredricks works with key Clients in the automotive interiors and seating industries, advanced rides and show action projects for themed attractions, furniture, and consumer products markets.

fredricks.com

design.fredricks.com

27 Feb

You are affected by PLM. What is PLM and how to stop it…

This article is not about stopping a wide-spread, silent and dangerous disease as the title may suggest, but you’re here now so let’s talk about PLM or Product Lifecycle Management. To put it dryly, it’s an information management system that can integrate data, processes, business systems and, ultimately, people in an extended enterprise. [1] Most importantly, it’s a disciplined way to connect and supercharge a ridonkulous amount of information in your company to get product to market faster, decrease redundant activities, and increase profits. To readers not operating “extended enterprises”, you can imagine PLM to be like the work of ecologists who study complex, living ecosystems. Read More

21 Feb

Fredricks announces the addition of Dave Miller to our team!

On February 19, 2018, Fredricks Design, Inc. welcomed Dave Miller, BSME, to our team.

Dave graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He spent the last few years as an engineer in the manufacturing environment at Gentex Corporation in Zeeland, MI. His true passion is in new product development, design, and engineering. He brings a strong skill sets in 3D CAD modeling, prototyping, testing, design for manufacturability and understanding of the manufacturing process. Dave will be a tremendous asset to the design and engineering team at Fredricks Design and our Clients. He will be based in our Grand Haven, Michigan studio.

Please join us with an enthusiastic welcome for Dave!

Maury Fredricks

CEO

Fredricks Design, Inc.

Fredricks Design, Inc. is a full-service design and engineering firm based in Grand Haven, Michigan. The firm specializes in working as an extension of the client studio and engineering team to identify the right problems and accelerate development of solutions from early ideation, feasibility, concept development and production of mock-ups, prototypes and show properties. Fredricks works with key Clients in the automotive interiors and seating industries, advanced rides and show action projects for themed attractions, furniture, and consumer products markets.

fredricks.com

design.fredricks.com

 

31 Jan

Autoshow 2018: Tricky Times Ahead

Image courtesy of Maury Fredricks

Just returned from a trip to attend the Industry Preview Days at the Autoshow in Detroit. It’s about a three-hour drive down I-96 from our home in Grand Haven. Typically, drivers are doing an average of 15 over the prescribed limit and traffic is tight in spots. You can move swiftly across the state and it’s worth the drive to check out the NAIAS, the Autoshow. As designers and engineers, we go to witness and take note of styling and technical trends. For us, it’s a bit of a museum of the past and lens to the future. Ironically, the most innovative vehicles shown may be the death of the show itself.

As I confirmed through multiple conversations at Cobo Hall, the show is dying from the inside. Difficult to change the course of a large ship and the NAIAS is at risk of not being able to adapt to the blurring social and technological landscape. Read More

25 Jan

CES2018 Mobility ideas, concepts and future solutions…

image source: google images

Back to the future…

“The Jetsons” was a hit cartoon when I was growing up (produced by Hanna-Barbera,aired in primetime from September 23, 1962, to March 17, 1963). For a half hour every week, the show engulfed my imagination in a future world where people were enabled by robots, automation and streamlined, on demand mobility options. Rosie the maid was a robot and everything seemed so much easier for humans. The family seemed so happy, except when they were complaining about the hard work and minor inconveniences of life. Many things have changed over the years, now decades, and some things will remain the same.

This lifestyle, as it relates to mobility and the way we interact with products, is a reality in the developed countries of this world. CES showcased IoT, smart city, smart home and automotive technologies to improve our lives. That’s the idea anyway.

Read More

© Fredricks Design, Inc. All Rights Reserved.