Great Feature; Any Benefit?

One of our team recently received a mail shot from a brand camera manufacturer advertising the fact that their latest digital camera had a CCD of 12 Megapixels and we were wondering; what is the point of 12 Megapixels? At this resolution, the image size will be huge, the file size enormous and why would the average consumer want this much resolution?
We never criticise Product Design as our art is subjective and we don’t know the brief; but on the face of it; where is the benefit to the customer? I guess the answer is more to do with one manufacturer’s desire to out bid a competitor in the feature’s stake rather what the customer desires. Whether this represents good Product Design practice, is a matter of debate; we’re all for pushing the boundaries of design…but let’s give customers real benefit from the design.
But at the end of the day; what is the benefit to the average motorists of a car that can do 200mph (we could answer this but it would be too rude to print here!!!)?

UK Contract Manufacturing: RIP

Fripp Design’s business model is to develop its own Intellectual Property and license to third party manufacturers, but like any business model, you need to flex it from time to time!
We are joint owners of a new DIY product called Site Vice. It is designed to solve the problem of securing objects for cutting with petrol saws on construction sites. We have a number of manufacturers interested in licensing it but getting a decision does take time. We have shown the prototype to the UK construction industry and they are desperate to get their hands on it. So, rather than wait, we want to strike whilst the irons hot (excuse the pun in this as we are based in Sheffield, the home of Steel production!).
So we’ve started searching for UK based contract manufacturers who can assist us to manufacture the Site Vice and, guess what, we cannot find anyone!
It looks like we will have to work with overseas suppliers which is a real shame as we’d like to keep the project ‘in country’.

Not More Consultants

Although we are great supporters of State intervention and support for high growth/high technology companies we have noticed a trend in the way the support is being delivered. Is it just us or are there more and more consultants being engaged to deliver services on behalf of government departments?
Although we are supportive of the role of consultants there seems to be a trend towards consultancy based on writing reports; rather than doing things that have a practical outcome for those seeking support. What use is a business plan in paying the bills!
Don’t get us wrong, strategic consultancy is important, however for most SME businesses its practice rather than preaching which is needed!
Let’s see more consultants rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty with their clients!

Good Time to buy Design?

The design council have some interesting research on companies and their attitude to, and the impact of, Design.

For example:
– Rapidly growing businesses are nearly six times as likely as static ones to see design as integral.
– Shares in design-led businesses have outperformed the FTSE 100 by more than 200% over the past decade.
– For every £100 a design alert business spends on design, turnover increases by £225.
– Businesses that add value through design see a greater impact on business performance than the rest.

There are over 10,000 design practices in the UK, varying from one man bands (which we affectionately refer to as “Fred in a Shed”; we know as we started out working in a garage ourselves!) through to multi million pound turnover design firms such as Seymour Powell, PDD etc (For those who are asking where do we fit? Well were in the top 5% of Design businesses on turnover and numbers employed).

As we’re in recession, you’d expect the volumes of enquiries to decline for Product Design but, to date, this has not been the case. Maybe the Design Council are right that now is a good time to invest in Design. There is no doubt, we are all sharpening our pencils on costings to make sure we, as a design business, survive and thrive once the recession is over.

It is a buyers market for buying Product Design so shop around and find the right company that can deliver what you want at an affordable budget; we hope Fripp Design is on your shopping list!

Incredible But True!

As we’ve just completed our year end, we’ve been doing some naval gazing and benchmarking ourselves against the industry norms and we were staggered to find out the following:
According to the Design Council, 23% of designers, when pitching for a design project, charge the client for the scoping meeting.
We appreciate that, if as part of the pitch, you’re disclosing methods on how you’d go about solving a particular design problem and the client, then, chooses to go with your proposed solution; this needs to be paid for. However to charge for simply pitching an idea seems preposterous to us.
Having said that, though, it is certainly common practice in Government sponsored schemes. We recently asked for some help in fine tuning one of our business processes and were successfully accepted onto a scheme. We had two consultants turn up to get the brief of what needed to be done. The meeting lasted an hour and the company concerned charged £600 to the Government sponsor for the meeting!
If we were to charge £300/hour for our Product Design services; this blog would not last very long…watch this space :)

Thinking in 3D!

On the BBC today was an interesting article about the band Keane broadcasting the world s first 3D Webcast http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7980552.stm Last year we were privileged to see the worlds first 3D TV (its been developed by Phillips) and Fripp Design live and breathe design in 3D using the latest software from the likes of Solidworks and Rhino.
For us of a certain generation (40+!); we come from the world of 2 ½ D i.e. variable x-y projected into the z plane! But for young people today, design is about true variable x-y-z.
The world of 3D opens up opportunities in a multitude of markets. Consumer Media manufacturers will have the opportunity to replace an entire generation of TV, DVD players generating 1000s of jobs. The same will happen for software developers who will reprogram catalogues of films and programs for the new media. Design companies will design ever more complex and creative products and mobile manufacturers will have new ways of delivering content.
We’ve seen the TV revolution; from B&W through colour to flat screens. We’ve seen the telecommunication revolution from the first satellite links through to satellite phones. We’ve seen the communication revolution through the Internet and the World Wide Web. Is 3D the next revolution which brings all the previous revolutions together, truly revolutionising our lives?
Fripp Design predict 3D will be the next revolution in human society; get thinking in 3D