What makes products great? What roles do design firms play in creation and innovation, and makes this role change? What accounts for design firms’ successes? How do the processes of innovation and design vary? Does a focus on design inspire innovation and enhance the possibility of competitive success? What strategies might result in more inspired design and innovation?
Design-Inspired Innovation represents an attempt to answer these questions. To explore such issues, the book reports the results of a study that included interviews with founders of nearly 100 design firms in several industries. Respondents in Sweden, Italy, England, and the United States ranged in representation from three divisions of large international design firms to small, new firms working in local venues. The authors looked broadly at contributions to the advancement of innovation and design in several types of products, including consumer electronics, devices for personal mobility, and others.
Manufacturers respond to technological change and market demand by speeding up new-product introduction. They struggle with emerging and converging technologies that create opportunities for fresh product lines. Larger firms enjoy significant technological and scientific resources, but these resources continue to become more widely available to all, with different breeds of competitors entering the field. Smaller enterprises derive even greater innovative capabilities from the ever-growing variety of sophisticated design resources available, such as computer-aided design and simulation and visualisation techniques.
It takes more than sufficient function, consistent quality, and low cost to make a product successful. The findings in the survey imply that companies might gain considerable competitive advantage by looking at traditional products with a fresh approach that employs newer materials and design techniques. Why do so few of the millions of products on the market seem to account for the bulk of sales and profits? These products emphasise customer pleasure, elegance, and enduring value; they may even increase in value over time.
Linear’s saddle, designed for both rider and horse, offers one such example. Most saddles today model a form established hundreds of years ago. Some 60% of riding horses suffer back problems because traditional saddle design does not distribute the riders’ weight well, and this problem can shorten the horses’ lives. Linear, a Swedish start-up company, created by a female saddle maker Kicki Näslund and a veterinarian Per Martin Andrén, working with Swedish industrial design firm Propeller, created a very different saddle designed for a healthy horse’s spine and movement. Dubbed the Horseback–Modular Saddle System, it ergonomically accommodates both horse and rider. The innovative design breaks new ground in a conservative product category via new materials and modern production.
The designer started by considering horse and rider as one system. He felt the saddle should adapt to individual differences between horse and load, and it should distribute the rider’s weight as evenly as possible over as large an area as possible so as not to affect the horse’s circulation.
Linear’s saddle has a lightweight modular design — the base or lower segment intended for the horse’s back, and the seat or upper segment for the rider and the actual riding style. The seat allows the rider to switch easily among different disciplines and eliminates the need for multiple saddles. Instead of using traditional leather, the saddle employs a carbon fibre that provides an extraordinarily light product. It distributes pressure evenly over the horse’s back and allows for good horse and rider ventilation.