New Website from Fripp Design and Research

As a company that thrives and lives on Innovation we are pleased to announce a new web site dedicated to the supply of Innovation Vouchers in Yorkshire and Humberside (apologies to the rest of the world; however there are a number of other regions where we are also applying to become suppliers of Innovation Vouchers too so watch for future announcements).

Innovation Vouchers is a UK Government initiative to help SME business to innovate new ideas and Fripp Design and Research are proud to be the first private sector knowledge based supplier to provide Innovation Vouchers. We won’t go into detail, on how work, here as you can get more information at www.innovation-vouchers.co.uk. But if you are in our region and need help; get in touch at www.innovation-vouchers.co.uk.

Barcelona – Design without Value?

The author of this blog went to Barcelona for a long weekend with his wife to celebrate 14 years of blissful marriage.
Barcelona was chosen because of its fantastic architecture and design community which we were both looking forward to experiencing.
Our break started off well; the architecture and design exceeded our expectations and the Spanish people we met were fantastic (the service in their restaurants was first class); but whatever you do NEVER go there!
I hear you asking how can we NOT recommend you to go? Well unfortunately we were mugged at knife point in the Olympic village; at 1pm in the afternoon in a very public place! On top of that, there were police everywhere because of the amount of pick pocketing and other incidents of mugging. In effect the city is out of control…and this got the author thinking about how great design has no value without the right customer experience.
In affect, going to Barcelona is about experiencing great art and design. But to experience the design, you need to know you are safe to do so. Would you buy, say, a great designed car if the breaks were not fitted and working properly?
The Barcelona authorities need to get to grips with their level of crime, otherwise people, like us will simply not ‘buy’ the Barcelona experience. We do not know who is in charge, but we bet that, if they were designers, the problem would be solved as we designers understand that design is as much about the experience of using a product as its looks.
We say to the Spanish people in Barcelona; vote a member of the Gaudi family as your Mayor and solve your crime wave!

Things that make you go mmmmm (web designers!)

Another little rant about bad design; but on this occasion not the world of Product Design but web designers!
Am I (the author of the blog at Fripp Design and Research; Steve Roberts) the only one that gets frustrated with obligatory fields in forms on the web which relate to “where did you hear about us?”
I inevitably tick the first option (or even random ones) so what is the point of asking the question?
It’s the same when asking you your gender on a form to do with buying a web domain, say; again what is the point!
The point is the data they get from the form is meaningless, frustrates people like me and makes me spend time having a rant!
Seriously though, Fripp Design and Research endlessly talk about the importance of good/quality research when doing product design, it’s a pity that web forms are so simple to create (unlike a product design) because then, perhaps, they would do proper research and wouldn’t ask such daft questions!

Designers and Designers

One of our recent new recruits was put on a training course for one of the modules in Solidworks. On the course he met a fellow product designer (with a few more years experience…if you get our drift!) who was complaining about how do you distinguish a professional design company from a designer who simply designs the aesthetics but does not take into account the need to design for the real world and manufacture (we have blogged about this subject in the past).
Please do not get us wrong, we do see the role of aesthetic design, however we would argue this belongs in the realm of art rather than Product Design.
So the question is; how do you distinguish between a design artist and a product design? Surprisingly there are ways you can; and it’s nothing to do with pretty images on a web site!
For companies such as ours and other professional product design companies, there are a number of distinguishing attributes you should be looking for:
1) The company has legal copies of professional software products such as Solidworks and Autodesk Inventor; if they’re using products such as Sketch up; they’re likely to be artists, not designers. To check the legality of their software, ask the designers where they bought the software from and contact the vendor to verify it
2) Check they have professional indemnity insurance. This is not cheap to get and is only given to organisations who fulfil specific criteria
3) Ask for their company registration number. Go to companies house and quickly verify how long they have been trading for
Like we say, there is an important role for aesthetic design as an art form, but it should not be confused with the practicalities of product design.

Creating value out of habit

Whilst looking for car insurance for a classic Porsche a colleague looked into the cost of classic car insurance and, at first, could not really understand how it was so much cheaper. Then it struck them that it was because it was limited mileage and once you start to approach average annual mileages the prices are no longer as competitive. It occurred to them how clever an idea classic car insurance is and in effect what they are doing is similar to the way entrepreneurs and designers work: by understanding the value of human habit.
In the case of classic car insurance the combination of love of classic cars and the habit of using it for only small distances is understood by the insurance company allowing them to offer better value for money when it comes to the insurance.
Entrepreneurs and product designers do this too by analysing habits and finding a way to capitalise on them by offering a new way of doing something that people do anyway; but by offering better value in saving time and money.
So find a habit; find an opportunity!

Communicating the benefit of Design

We blogged recently about us taking on more space and our new office has a very well designed air conditioning system…which we found out eventually!
In the middle of our heat wave, we noticed when we first moved in that the room was very warm. By the time we got all our computers connected and switched on, we were in great danger of becoming a sauna rather than a product design company!!!
Someone had the sense to close the office door from the corridor and after about 10 minutes, the temperature and humidity became nice and comfortable…but what was missing was a simple instruction, on the wall, telling us how to get the best from the air conditioning systems design.
Although the air con is well designed, it was not quite great design as it missed what we consider to be an essential element of a product design project, the communication of the value of design to those that need it and/or want it.
We’re not suggesting that all designs should have an instruction manual explaining what it is; but the design should intuitively communicate real benefits if is going to be great.