Ben Hardman is a product designer at heart, with a meandering career through design, engineering and innovation.  His current position within the Speedo Aqualab® challenges the role that technical innovation has within a global sportswear brand, and how it can inspire people to swim.  Ben has a passion for the human element of what he does – tapping into the emotions and making a connection with people through their interaction with a product and the experience that creates.

You’re speaking at PD+I 2015, what made you decide to get involved?

Speedo have been working with Chris Lefteri recently, and he asked if we’d share some stories and insights into who we are, what we do and how we do it.  I’d heard some really positive things about PD+I and wanted to come along to make new connections and hear some interesting talks.

What are you currently working on?

Speedo have recently introduced the Fastskin Lazer Racer X.  The Fastskin Lazer Racer X was created through collaborating with hundreds of swimmers and experts throughout the world, the suit is designed to help them feel fast and be fast.

Why did you become a designer?

I’ve always loved crafting ideas and thoughts into objects, both useful and/or purely aesthetic.

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

I get really excited by brands such as Bang&Olufsun.  They have such a precise and reserved image, but manage to flip this into very radical concepts.  They explore new and unchartered territories and have fun in the process.

Should you meet your heroes?

I don’t think it’s necessary to meet your heroes, or idolize people or organizations.  For me it’s enough just to appreciate them and feed off their ideas and energy.

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

I love the VW Golf and Jetta MKII cars from the late 80’s – from the age when car makers seemed to have a clearer visual identity.  If I’d been on the team I would’ve encourage them to include a cup-holder and a curry hook!

What is the greatest challenge you face as a designer?

I think the biggest challenge as designer or an engineer is to flip between a subjective and objective viewpoint.  Great experiences can only be created when there is a bit of magic thrown in, a pleasant surprise – but this is hard to achieve by committee, so the designer’s vision should always be protected and respected.  But what we do also has to also be rooted in insights – and this requires a large degree of separation from any personal vision. A healthy dilemma!


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.