Design Reality

The evolution of product design

We’ve contributed to New Design’s 2019 Yearbook looking back at a year of change in design. We review how the approach and motivation behind design principles have changed and how industry has responded.

View the  New Design’s 2019 Yearbook online

As Designers we are used to change - after all, it forms the foundation of product design principles, however it is with some surprise that we look back on how quickly our business and the design industry has evolved over the past few years.  In-line with our strategic business objectives, this year we’ve continued to diversify our offering to meet the needs of clients and maximise new design technologies and innovations. We have evolved from a company focused on designing and creating products for the industrial sector, to a consultancy delivering award-winning, complex projects and products for a wide range of sectors including the medical and consumer industries.

That’s not to say that we’ve abandoned our roots in the industrial sector, quite the opposite.  This year, we’ve had more projects in this area than ever before, all of which have benefited from our specialist knowledge on personal protection equipment and respirators.

One project we’re particularly proud of, that came to market earlier this year, was with respiratory protection brand, Corpro.  This extensive project involved specialisms from across the team, including design, engineering and electronics.  Utilising our extensive knowledge of anthropometrics, respiratory expertise, testing, and certification we were able to create a range of fully certified products in under a year.  This includes full-face and half-mask respirators, a full range of industrial filtration combinations and a test-rig, designed and engineered by the team at Design Reality from initial concept through to launch.

Keeping pace with technology

With the speed of change in technological and social trends, continued foresight is essential for creating design that has longevity and a capability to provide a positive user experience. The trend towards the Human Digital Interface has created some exciting new opportunities for us - and we have diversified, upskilled and recruited, especially within our electronics team, to ensure we can deliver quality outcomes for our clients in this area.

As industry 4.0 demands become increasingly prevalent, the need to provide solutions that are data driven are a must.  We’ve been working with several clients to integrate technology into their products, which, amongst other things, provide data which can be analysed to better understand behaviours and usage. This integrated technology allows for continued design improvements forming a cyclical approach to product development.

We have been approached by a number of clients this year who develop world leading digital technology in-house but require design expertise to create the physical product design within which their technology is used.

Earlier in the year, together with our client Green Running, specialists in Artificial Intelligence in the Energy sector, we created visual brand language for their award-winning smart home energy hub, Verv. We developed their design to create a product that embodied their contemporary brand ethos, ensuring it was visually appealing to consumers whilst creating the necessary design components to pass testing requirements.

We have been collaborating with our client Swellaway on a ground- breaking sports therapy which has been designed as a class IIa medical device for use by professional physiotherapists.  The portable device combines compression technology with cooling and heating peltiers.  To support the device, we have also combined a full user management solution with customised functionalities via a digital platform.

An inclusive approach to design

Amongst our clients, and within the industry as a whole, there is a renewed aspiration to design inclusive products. This year our Creative Director, Wyn Jones, has been working as an Associate of The Dementia Centre (DSDC), providing product design expertise to assist organisations who want to understand how they can create dementia-friendly, innovative products and services.

In a recent article for DSDC, Wyn discussed how Design is about more than shaping physical environments and products.  “Creating well designed desirable products and spaces, that take into consideration how people interact with their environment in its entirety, can considerably improve the lives of those living with dementia.  Innovative and intuitive design for dementia care aspires to keep individuals safe from danger, whilst allowing them freedom to engage in everyday activity, helping to enhance their quality of life and independence.”

Additive manufacturing for clients

Production is another area in which we have increased our offering this year. Our 3D printing services have benefited from the addition of a state of the art HP4200.  This has increased our capabilities to provide cutting edge 3D printing for both our design project clients but also an increasing number of external clients who want to use our specialist 3D printing expertise.  We are currently supplying multiple clients with 3D printed production parts for their businesses.

One such client is start up Limb-Art who launched their business earlier this year with a range of covers for prosthetic legs.  The 3D printed process we implemented has allowed their business to minimise initial production costs and enabling them to identify premium product lines, evolving their designs without the extensive upfront costs associated with traditional tooling. Using small batch in-house additive manufacturing as a precursor to traditional injection moulding, we were able to provide the rapid lead times and resilient nature of the Nylon substrate to produce prosthetic leg covers tailored to the user and offering degrees of strength well beyond the capabilities of existing SLS printers.

With new clients and exciting projects lined up for 2019, we look forward to the year ahead and the exciting developments it may bring.

New Design Magazine

New Design covers the products, innovations and processes of design in all its forms.  You can subscribe on the new design website

Read other articles featuring Design Reality in New Design Magazine including details of new iso headforms designed to test a new global standard in respiratory equipment