Tag Archives: Case Study

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.

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

14 Jan

CES 2016 insights

 

Photo by John F. Martin for Delphi.

A visit to CES is like taking a trip to Europe. You have to choose where you spend your time or you run the risk of experiential overload. There is a lot to see and too little time. A high degree of patience is required for any visit to Las Vegas. There are people everywhere and dinner reservations are at a premium. These, of course, are developed world problems and I was lucky to be able to experience the show over two busy days.

CES is set up in 2.74m square feet of space housed in three different venues from the north of the Strip to the south end. There were 3800 companies exhibiting and the show attracted approximately 175k visitors from North America, Europe, Asia and many other countries. The investment in manpower, travel, marketing, show design, exhibit fabrication, setup and tear down must be an astronomical number. It’s really amazing that anyone with business credentials, a nominal fee for entry and the desire to walk miles every day can experience everything the show has to offer. Read More

01 Dec

How to construct an effective design brief.

effective design brief

“We benchmark in/out of market, gather voice of the consumer (VOC) and intelligence to form a project brief that outlines goals and problem statements. Our clients sometimes provide the project brief”.

This quote, from the Discover Phase of our product development process, highlights the importance of a thorough and detailed design brief in early phase product development.

Our work over three decades with some of the world’s best companies has been challenging, rewarding and, admittedly sometimes a bit frustrating. Looking back at our diverse work, we have learned to ask the right questions during the development of a well-constructed design brief. We offer this brief essay to share our key lessons and help improve our work with clients and suppliers. Read More

30 Sep

What is Freespace in the Product Development Process?

Freespace - first phase in product development process

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

31 Mar

Auto Show 2015 | a project case study

Auto Show 2015 | a project case studyOverview

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…

Prospective on Uber

 

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

06 May

Indiana Furniture + Fredricks Case Study

Indiana Furniture Design Case Study - Felix chair development

Indiana Furniture: Felix

We partnered with Indiana Furniture in Q4 2012 to develop Felix, a new offering to expand their seating line.

Our case study tells the story of our collaborative development from early exploration of the problem statement, design brief development, ideation, concept development and production release.

We leveraged our complimentary capabilities to accelerate the development of a new product to raise the bar for Indiana Furniture in the seating category. Felix is the first offering in a series of seating products based on intelligent product planning and execution of our combined talents.

Please check out the chair development case study and contact us to discuss your future product challenges. Thanks!

Click Here to download the case study.

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