All posts by Benjamin Fredricks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17 Jul

A Kindergarten Mindset

crayon_town_USA

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

12 Jun

Neocon 2014: Beanbags and Phone-booths

Neocon 2014 | Place Matters.

A brief recap of our visit to Neocon 2014…

For those who are not familiar, Neocon is an annualexposition for commercial interiors; the industry leaders (and followers) come to Chicago to showcase their latest furniture, fixtures, and materials. It can be quite a party, but we’re usually there to uncover trends, be inspired, and admire the great design work that many of the companies are continuing to produce. We saw a shift in the respect for individual needs and designing spaces that accommodate them. We’d like to share what we saw and wherewe see it going… Read More

© Fredricks Design, Inc. All Rights Reserved.