I’ve been interested in all things ‘industrial design’ since a very early age. My first word was tractor, following my fascination with heavy machinery and the only existing records of my time in primary school are plan views of fighter jets, drawn as first angle projections.
I suppose I was always going to be involved in product design, as I never strayed far from the core subjects that would lead me here. Through school and university I would only ever focus and excel at practical, creative challenges, usually at the expense of other subjects which were too easily ignored… I now lead my life leaning heavily on spellcheck, thesaurus and Google.
I’m fortunate to have held several positions within the industry and still aspire to claim a complete knowledge of what it takes to launch a product from initial idea to point of sale. I say this having overseen the process many times before, yet never without learning new skills along the way. Considering the pace our industry moves along at, I expect (and truthfully hope) this philosophy will never change.
I studied Industrial Design Engineering (BSc) at Nottingham Trent University before attaining my first job at a newly formed consultancy in the South West; modestly named EcoSave. We used to focus on environmentally sustainable solutions, generally relating to saving water. Recirculating energy, biological replacements for chemical cleaning agents and reusing materials were all key factors of what we aimed to achieve. Unfortunately, the business lacked focus and ironically, was too wasteful with its resources. I believe the company was recently dissolved. No doubt there are positive ventures in the pipeline from those who ran it.
I then moved onto a much larger scale of manufacture at Numatic International. There, I was appointed as Design Engineer within the team who created and developed the vacuum cleaner range, including the ever popular Henry Hoover; but also extending to more complex, and somewhat niche, commercial machines. Working within a hub of creative activity alongside some extremely capable individuals was a genuine privilege. The R&D facilities at their site in Chard are quite impressive; including large format 3D printers, a modelling & finishing suite along with its own fully supported offsite test facility which was home to an anechoic chamber, among other things. Being based in such a rich arena of design, manufacture & production gave me some great experiences, fundamentally learning about best practise and seeing it being deployed first hand, to great effect. Although British manufacture is widely reported to be suffering in the emerging global market, I’m delighted to see the company thriving, as it has done for over thirty years. I would hazard a guess that this success is largely driven from the core beliefs and enthusiasm of the sole owner, who embodies the traditionally quirky British entrepreneur.
In 2013 I was appointed Design Manager at Hymid. The company is a fascinating hub of new product development, centred on a technical moulding process known as two-shot. I’ll cover this subject in a separate blog as it is a brilliant, innovative and somewhat complex process which deserves its own introduction.
At the facility in Torbay we assist clients in taking their product ideas through the development pipeline, resulting in moulded parts that are produced to extremely high standards. Hymid has a wide range of capabilities, including its own tool making facilities, an advanced injection moulding plant, sub assembly and quality inspection departments among many others.
The DFM support we provide within the design team is crucial to the success of the system. The proof of the ‘return on investment’ of this free service is clearly evident across the emerging new range of products being created. Sadly, due to sensitivities regarding intellectual property, I can’t speak openly about the majority of work I am involved in. A curse of the trade perhaps. Having said this, from time to time I will introduce certain case studies which have been successfully launched to market.