Spotlight on … Professor James Woudhuysen


Professor James Woudhuysen

Professor James Woudhuysen helped to install Britain’s first computer-controlled car park in 1968, before graduating in physics. James has edited and written for many well-known industry magazines including Design and Blueprint Magazine, and also written numerous books on the subject of innovation. Prior to his role as independent forecaster and visiting professor, James was Chief of worldwide market intelligence for Philips Consumer Electronics in the Netherlands and Director of product designers at Seymourpowell.


You’re speaking again at PD+I 2016, what made you decide to get involved?
It’s always vibrant, with great speakers and a fresh, no-posing attitude to free speech and open debate.


What are you currently working on?
Manufacturing, IoT, rail travel, cybersecurity; co-editing, with Martyn Evans and James Moultrie, The Wiley Handbook of Design and Innovation: Trends, Scenarios and Recommendations for 2030 and beyond.


Why did you decide to work in the design field?
I needed a job and saw one in the papers – Technical Editor, Design magazine, at the Design Council. I asked my Dad if he wasn’t a designer. He said he was. From then on it was downhill


Is there a designer or company you particularly admire and why?
Ramesh Annapindi, MADLAB, Bangalore.
Should you meet your heroes?
I have heroes, but society tends to prefer celebrities. Mistake!


What product or design you wish you’d worked on and why?
Apollo 11. It’s obvious why.


What is the greatest challenge you face professionally?
As a forecaster, the challenge of staying ahead.


Can you describe yourself or your company in 10 words or less?
Speaker to big firms about the future of technological innovation.



Spotlight on … Gadi Amit


Gadi Amit, President, NewDealDesign LLC

Gadi Amit is president and principal designer of NewDealDesign – the 2013 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award Winner – and one of Fast Company magazine’s 1000 most creative people. Gadi has been responsible for projects including the Fitbit line of wearable devices, the Ara Modular Phone, the Lytro Light Field Camera, TYLT Devices, Whistle and Sproutling wearables. He was also named a ‘Master of Design’ in 2010 and alongside his team has received over 100 design awards.


You’re speaking at PD+I 2016, what made you decide to get involved?
I was involved with the 2014 conference and I am always very interested to see what’s happening all around the world in terms of innovation. The UK has a tremendous innovative community which always attracted me. Conferences are all about ideas and being exposed to new trends, and London always provides new inspirations and ideas, as well as the chance to meet interesting people.


What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a variety of projects, probably the most comprehensive ever. We’re currently dealing with products at the cutting edge of medicine, as well as autonomous objects – which are not limited to cars. We are also working on a variety of smart home devices and applications, nearly all of which are a combination of strategy, physical, digital and engineering. Most projects arrive as 360 degree engagement, so as well as design, brand strategy is important, and as well as the object, so too is the digital experience.


Why did you become a designer?
I don’t know that I had any other choice. I come from a family of two architects and discovered industrial design in my twenties. It’s my calling and I have never tried anything else.


Is there a designer or company you particularly admire and why?
It’s a complicated question. I am inspired by a few designers and find people like Naoto Fukasawa and Antonio Citterio to be very influential. There are a lot of very good designers out there, it’s hard to pick only a few when there are so many. I admire companies which take big chances and try to push boundaries, for example Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors. BMW is also picking up the green challenge with its i division, which is an impressive approach.


Should you meet your heroes?
I have met Naoto once or twice and Benoit Jacob from BMW I (at PD + I, by the way). I think there is a difference between the persona of a designer and a design itself. We shouldn’t personify design work. I have a slight reservation about design heroes and personification of designs. Some people have large, impressive personalities and some are much quieter, but that doesn’t impact the stature of work that they do.


What product or design do you wish you’d worked on and why?
I would wish for the chance to work on an autonomous vehicle or a house robot which everyone can use. The intelligence of moving things is a topic I am intrigued by.


What is the greatest challenge you face as a designer?
Advanced technology and the challenge to bridge the gap between humanity and technology which is typically non-human. We need to take culture and humanity seriously in design for tech. It is our greatest challenge, especially in terms of intelligent ‘things’. We need to make their assimilation into our culture much more smooth, so that they bring inspiration and happiness to humanity rather than mistrust.


Can you describe NewDealDesign in 10 words or less?
A technology design studio working to humanize technology for people.




Spotlight on… Julie Jenson Bennett


Julie Jenson Bennett, Chief Executive Officer, Precipice

Everybody pauses when asked to describe Julie – not because she defies classification, but because 20 years of working on the knife-edge of business and design has stretched her experiences far beyond her original career in interaction and information design at Intel Corporation.

As a design strategist she’s defined dozens of disruptive technology products in networking, e-commerce, television and domestic appliances and holds a patent for novel visual browsing interfaces. As a leader, she’s consistently delivered vision, profits and growth in a range of business models, from small creative studios to global corporate teams.

Many of Julie’s clients know her best for her rigorous design research, which evolved from her own decision making needs as a senior business manager and product strategist. In the process of getting the answers she needs, she’s acquired a deep knowledge of cognitive science, emotion science, anthropology and material culture, and is passionate about both the power and limitations of user-centered design and consumer research.

Now, as CEO of Precipice, Julie continues to balance her time between business management and strategic consulting. She loves a good spreadsheet, informed risk taking, and getting great products to market.

You’re speaking at PD+I 2016, what made you decide to get involved?

Product Design & Innovation is such a central question of business today, it’s crucial to build the community and have spaces to hold interesting conversations.


What are you currently working on?

I have spent the past 18 months understanding what it means to be a man or woman today and how changes in this have created unexpected ripples in the products we choose to have in our lives.


Why did you become a designer?

It happened a bit accidentally. I intended to become a journalist, but my studies in writing, visual communication and psychology led me to the emergent field of interaction design before it had a name or a real professional identity. From there, I became obsessed with the intersection of product design and business strategy.


Is there a designer or company you particularly admire and why?

I started my career at Intel in the early ‘90s, and the recent coverage of Andy Grove’s death has reminded me of so many qualities that made that company great. But as a product designer, Intel particularly drove home the fact that you are designing for an entire eco-system of suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and channel partners that need to be considered and appreciated, alongside what we see as consumers.


Should you meet your heroes?

Heroes live in the stories we create about other people. I am much more interested in hearing the stories other people tell about themselves.


What product or design you wish you’d worked on and why?

My recent work on gender has exposed the modern underbelly of dating. I’d have loved to have worked on Tinder, knowing what I know now, to rethink it from a different perspective.


What is the greatest challenge you face as a designer?

Balancing simplicity and complexity. If we worship the cult of simplicity too much, we miss out on the incredible richness of the human experience. But once we become perceived as complicated, we start to lose engagement. I have to constantly navigate that boundary every day.


Can you describe your company in 10 words or less?

Providing perspective on how and why stuff matters to people.



Spotlight on …David Tonge

David Tongue picDavid is widely recognised as one of the leading industrial designers of his generation. Quietly successful he has designed a diverse range of award winning products including furniture, luggage, consumer electronics, car interiors, cameras and computer equipment.

He graduated from Northumbria University with class mate and collaborator Jony Ive. After working in London design studios, including Tangerine, he joined IDEO Product Development in San Francisco in the mid-90’s as Industrial Design Director. An exciting period for design in Silicon Valley, IDEO’s innovation process attracted the smartest brands from all over the world and he worked alongside some of the most influential designers of the modern era including Bill Moggridge and Naoto Fukasawa. After a period as Associate Partner to Bob Brunner at Pentagram design he founded The Division with partner Nicole Hodgkinson in 2003 and returned to London.       David has worked extensively in Japan, studying the language and developing an enduring love for the culture. Well over 70 visits later he has a unique knowledge of Japanese companies and frequently lectures, writes and consults about his experiences.

His work has been exhibited at the London Design Museum, has won major design awards in the UK, Germany, Japan and the US and his work and writing have been featured in Axis Magazine,  Business Week, Blueprint, Creative Review, Nikkei BP and The Guardian as well as being interviewed on BBC radio, NHK TV Japan and CBS.

You’re speaking at PD+I 2016, what made you decide to get involved?
I do a lot of speaking overseas particularly in Japan and the US and I thought it was about time people in the UK heard what I have to say.

What are you currently working on?
Our work is split between live projects and on-going advice based consulting with our clients. On the project side of things we are working on kitchen tools, health and beauty products, PC peripherals and the inevitable IOT devices both hardware and UI. Our advice area is expanding and is generally about advising upper management and directing internal teams to do the right thing.

Why did you become a designer?
Encouraged by my parents all I ever did was draw and make things and was correspondingly good at it. At 7 I wanted to be an artist. At 14 I wanted to be a graphic designer and during foundation course I visited Manchester Poly where a guy wearing a pink mohair jumper was designing a train, he looked so cool and it sold me on Industrial design ! But I don’t see any boundaries. I love photography, typography, ceramics, painting, fashion, architecture etc. It’s all story telling.

Is there a designer or company you particularly admire and why?
Given my global design upbringing – in the US it would be the Eames, in Japan Sori Yanagi and his father Soetsu. If we talk about the UK, I would have to say Alexander McQueen.
While all very different all of these were able to balance function and emotion in a way that from the outside felt less about their own style but was just ‘right’ for the time. They all understood that design should be an art form and a communication of the times, not just a weak mouth piece for business. Which is where we design in general seems to be know.

Should you meet your heroes?
I don’t really subscribe to heroes and celebrity but there are a lot of people I respect. I am happy to meet anyone from whatever background and it’s never upsetting, it’s our flaws which are interesting.

What product or design do you wish you’d worked on and why?
There are no dream projects. The one you are doing is always the best one.

What is the greatest challenge you face as a designer?
Not letting the business of design kill my love for doing

Can you describe your company in 10 words or less?
Unbelievably good

David’s presentation titled ‘Nobody needs another designer’ will open the conference on 18th of May 2016.


Neysan Zolzer

Must-attend event for industrial designers, PD+I is pleased to welcome Neysan Zölzer to its exciting lineup of speakers for 2016.

Neysan is a partner at Mensch, an innovation agency which employs human-centred, entrepreneurial, and collaborative approaches to design products, services, and organisations in emerging and frontier markets. He has designed for the governments of Rwanda and Malawi, Cambodian NGOs, and USAID, NASA, the World Bank, and TED.

On his speaker role at this year’s conference, Neysan explains: “Design’s vast potential to contribute to human prosperity remains largely untapped — PD+I is bound to be an exciting forum to explore ground-breaking and meaningful innovations.”

For his keynote, Neysan discusses: How Design can contribute to the Prosperity of Nations. It is his belief that design offers a compelling approach for tackling socio-economic complexity, yet its potential remains largely untapped. So, how can we employ collaboration, empathy, iteration, and creativity to design meaningful products and services that contribute to the development and prosperity of nations?

Delegates of the 2016 PD+I conference will be lucky enough to hear first-hand examples through insights into Neysan’s work innovating in the Global South.



Great feedback from PD+I 2015


The fifth anniversary event of PD+I took place on 20 and 21 May at the America Square Conference Centre in London, and as in previous years, the conference didn’t disappoint. With a great line-up of speakers from big name brands and design groups including Whipsaw, McLaren, Williams Advanced Engineering, Plan, Mormedi, Bacardi and Speedo, the industrial design dialogue inside and outside the conference sessions was enthusiastically received. “There are a lot of designers here, typically when I go to conferences there is a higher number of clients, so this really is product designers learning from each other,” said Heather Martin, Vice President of Design at Smart Design. Hear more of the great response from PD+I 2015 participants in our video.

Tej Chauhan to tell us how he teamed up with Tesco on Hudl2


At PD+I 2015, delegates will be hearing how Tej Chauhan, creative director of Chauhan Studio and one of the many speakers at the conference, collaborated with Tesco to design the Hudl2 tablet.

Chauhan will use the Hudl2 as an example of how design DNA and balancing customer brand design language can deliver enhanced propositions and commercial success. The tablet has an easily recognisable visual identity, with carefully designed surface finishes, colours, and materials, plus the arrangement of the camera, speaker details and display forms a simple yet strong pattern.

He said: “We wanted to create a beautiful object that conveyed confidence and communicated the Hudl2’s technical acumen, whilst being friendly and accessible for a broad audience. Our goal was to create an object that people will want to pick up.”

Keith Metcalfe, the head of Hardware Product Development at Tesco, praised Chauhan and his team’s work: “Working with Chauhan Studio on Hudl2 has been an absolute pleasure and we could not have asked for a more productive partnership. Chauhan Studio always took time to listen to us in order to understand what the Hudl brand stands for. They then came back with ideas and concepts turning that understanding into product designs that we knew our customers would be excited about.”

Find out how to register for PD+I 2015 in London on 20-21 May.

Benjamin Chia to reveal Silicon Valley’s secrets


With wearables and mobility on the agenda at PD+I 2015, delegates can benefit from the perspective of Benjamin Chia, Chief Creative Officer (CCO) and Partner at San Jose based elemental8, who is in the exciting lineup of speakers.

Benjamin’s extensive experience as he takes to the stage to offer a flavour of how Silicon Valley adopts a multidisciplinary approach to industrial design, using a user centric and brand relevant mentality to deliver a truly comprehensive and cohesive user experience.

He said: “We’re always excited to talk about what we do here in Silicon Valley in terms of user experience, finding the perfect balance between aesthetics and function of physical products and applying to the user interface. PD+I 2015 is particularly exciting as we recognise the conference’s ability to bring industrial leaders and other like-minded people together in one place, and that place is London, so we can reach out and talk about the Silicon Valley approach to a UK and European audience.”

Pulling power: a zip that goes round curves


The zip fastener is a product that is over 100 years old. Yet, in all that time no-one has come up with a design that allows zips to go round a curve. Wendy Howard and her partners Andy Honour and Ray Pitman think they have come up with the answer and are looking for manufacturers with the vision to take their innovation into production, writes David Eldridge. Read our feature on the design and development of ZipZag. Wendy Howard will be presenting at PD+I 2015, discussing How to Improve the Effectiveness of Studying Industrial Design.

The winner’s post at DBA Design Effectiveness Awards


British Industrial Designers Association (BIDA) is celebrating the success of two of its members, Alloy and LA Design, which both won gold at the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards 2015. Alloy won for its work on the BT Hub 5, and LA Design won for a referee’s electronic paging system designed for its client Touchline Flags (pictured below). Alloy and BT’s entry also won the coveted Grand Prix “best of the best” at this year’s award, as well as the Sustainability Award.

BIDA said: “The brief for Hub 5 was driven by a wide ranging customer experience audit, highlighting several issues that could be resolved through a number of design interventions. However, a key challenge was to ensure the device would fit through a letterbox inside its’ postal packaging, to allow a smoother progression from service sign up to installation.

“The insight of using a postbox as a key driver of form factor enables BT to reduce costs, improve the initial customer experience, and significantly lower BT and their customers CO2 emissions. It was a hugely complex challenge that required effective collaboration numerous BT teams & Alloy to deliver a new service with demonstrably better product, packaging & technology to deliver a market leading service.”