Last week I was in London for the Product Design and Innovation conference and the plan was to do some posts as the week went on, well plans never came through on the IT side but over the next day or so I will put up the posts as they were written even though the dates area a little out now.

So what did I pick up from the two days at PD&I? Design is very much alive and kicking and has transformed over the years from something you did if you were no good at academic things ‘he can’t do maths but he’s very creative’ to now being a compliment ‘he’s so creative.’ But as we have written before about adding value to a brand that was the biggest thing I take away. A good industrial design company adds value to a brand by looking at the usage, interaction and brand fitment of the thing that they have been tasked to design. There were several case studies that proved this and they all showed the increase in both the company and the countries bottom line far more than the cost that they charged.

The second biggest point was that listening to consumer feedback should not be the main driver of design. For instance the doctor will listen to the patient but it is the doctor that does the diagnosis of the illness. Consumers will tell you what they know now and depending on how the day has been that will influence the clinic comments. Whereas when you are living and evolving a product or brand for 6, 12 or 24 months, and a lot longer if it needs solutions to be invented, then the designer will be intimate with it.

The third big point is that communication is the key to being able to get an idea across. So you need to be able to talk to the client audience and change your language to suit, managers will use different terms over accountants and another set of language will be needed for the design staff, I think you get my point.

What of the speaker highlights, well Richard Seymour was very engaging and pushed the point home of knowing what the new technologies are, from material and manufacture to the more extreme such as what’s happening in the bio-tech fields as some of these can be imbedded into the product without the client even knowing the technology was even there, so BE AWARE.

It was a good cross range of people in the audience as well as speakers, for instance Sandy Spaan flew in from Holland, Henrik Otto from Stockholm, Jashish Kambli from Future Factory India, Steve Masterson from Kiska Austria and Jeff Hayden from Keyshot in USA. It was also very encouraging to see several university lecturers at the conference as without them on board the future could be very bleek for those currently studying.

The best quotes was ‘there should not be no in innovation’.

But what is innovation and Steve May-Russell from Smallfry summed this up: Innovation is the strategic implementation of good ideas to add value.

As for the conference itself, it was well organised by the Crain staff with great speakers and support for the show and Kevin MuCullagh from Plan was a great chairman of the event. The Petcha Kucha session, which was the first time I had seen it in action, was well chaired by Clive Grinver of Cisco and it was amazing that all the people stayed in the time given to them. I think this is something that I will start up if there is not one local, maybe on different topics.

So that was the quick rundown of the conference but considering there was a booklet of several hundred pages I still have a lot more to go through and digest.

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