11th June 2015

We are pleased to have been featured in Housewares, where Sebastian discussed Products with personality and key roles throughout the design process:

Sebastian Conran, CEO of product design and development studio Sebastian Design Associates, shared his equation for success: aim to create real value at every level of the innovation journey

In an entertaining and thought-provoking session, Sebastian explained that the process of designing a product demands sensitivity. "You have to think about how the product is going to be used, made and marketed;' he said.??Sebastian outlined some of his latest projects: he is currently working on a robotic kitchen and has just launched a 3D printer. This product, he said, required his team to think carefully about safety and quietness. He has also designed an exercise bike with a hub on the back that makes you "feel like you are on the Tour de France" as part of his mission to make exercise “interesting”.

Despite all of this, Sebastian said that emerging technologies become redundant far too fast and gave a fascinating insight into why that's the case, using a set of weighing scales as an example. Asked by a buyer why they were so successful - and why they were not digital - Sebastian simply replied that they were attractive to look at.

Showing delegates another of his designs, a cream jug that measures as it pours, Sebastian said the beauty of the product was in its simplicity. With every new design he wants to create the 'why hasn't anyone thought of that before?' effect.

He said: "We are trying to create an emotional connection with people by using great design. The idea is to create a design around a personality; to create a visual language that reflects a personality's brand asset.”

He added: "Value is not just a perception of fair exchange. It's an abstract perception only in our minds; it's the engine of trade.” For him, it's a formula in which "value equals brand quality divided by cost”. It's also desirability. "The other thing is,'brand' exists in the mind. This too is a perception, an expectation of what you will get, so you have to build brands and create reputations.”

When designing any product, there are three critical stake holders, said Sebastian: the manufacturers, the designers and the people selling it. The first stage is led by marketing, while the second stage is led by designers but "good ideas come from everywhere, it's important to act like an editor: take out the most creative bits and put them together.” Next is the testing stage which is led by the manufacturers, followed by the implementation stage, which is led by the people who are going to sell it.

There are both the emotional and the rational aspects of design to consider, he continued. The emotional aspect is about creating personalities through product. "If you haven't got the thing that people want, when they want it, then you are not going to succeed,” he said, explaining that the narrative behind the products is also very important.

The rational aspect relates to function - how useful a product is - and how it's going to be made. "Form follows function,” he said. "You must also have a good level of collaboration between the designers and the marketers,” he concluded.