Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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

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

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!

Jim Biros, Designer

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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