Saturday, 5 November 2011



The role of design does seem to be shifting in business. Designers must learn to expand their interests and responsibilities beyond just aesthetics or conceptualization and submerge into customers, trends, competitors, budgeting, marketing, technology and a host of other targets simultaneously. That’s the new competitive landscape and as lectures we want to provide future designers with the right tools and thinking so that when they finish college they are ready to face the reality.


In order to respond to a design brief for a leading company, one of the most important factors to bear in mind during the process is to design products that can be differentiated from its competitors. There are many companies and many products out there and to come out with novelty ideas can be very difficult sometimes, more even in the lighting industry. The final product must follow market trends and customer needs, as well as other aspects which are also very significant such as budgeting, timescale, functionality, etc. All the details are stated and explained in the design brief. So, the real challenge for the designer is to analyze and to put together all the requirements specified on it, so that the right balance between design, business and final customer can be created. 
The aim will be to design meaningful products that can make a company achieve its goals, the final customer pleased and last but not least, to make ourselves satisfied as designers. It will be easier to comprehend the whole design development and the triumph of its outcome with a case study of a successful lighting
product which has exceed its expectation beyond functionality and aesthetics.
House of Fraser is the leading, national premium department store group in the UK and Ireland. They have more than 160 year history in the UK retail market and currently own 61 stores across the UK and Ireland.
Zeta table lamp is the result of the design briefing given by House of Fraser. This particular brief focused on the design a novelty table lamp for House of Fraser’s sub-brand “Pied a Terre” and to be launched in spring -summer 2011 at House of Fraser stores. The brief was very specific and as in any other briefing, designers have to stick to it and develop ideas accordingly so that the final product really meets each of the set points. 
What are the main points given in the design briefing and how to translate them into ideas and successful products?
The aesthetic requirement was to achieve an ultra-glamorous and art deco style followed by a playful design were the light would be diffracted across the room. Aesthetics will also be driven by forecasted trends. These trends were to be discussed with House of Fraser’s team as both, the designers and the company may have their own trends. In most cases, like this one, forecasted trends are pretty similar. For this project we agreed to follow one of the most powerful forthcoming trends “Faceted elements”.
Zeta lamp is made out or acrylic rods with a triangular section which diffracts the light across the room at the same time as it meets the “faceted elements” trend. So we can say that we killed 2 birds with 1 stone, the material and its geometry where the perfect allies for reaching our goal.
In domestic lighting projects, retail price is another key point. There are many factors that will make a big difference to the final retail price but one of the most important and related to the design construction, is to be able to design products that can be knocked down. This directly affects to the packaging, so the more KD a product is, the smaller the packaging can be, so they occupy less space in the stock room, therefore the price can be reduced. Zeta table lamp can be knocked down into 3 parts.
The shade (including stainless steel frames plus acrylic rods), stem and base.
It was important not to commit so much with complex manufacturing processes and rather go for simple and common components to create the complex visual shape we wanted to achieve. The selection of the materials and finishes were driven by aesthetics, price, trends and sub-brand visual identity. Smokey acrylic rods combined with black chrome finish gives the final product a touch of mystery and glamorous style.
Introduce Zeta table lamp into the market and it was record of sales during the first months after being launched. It was very well accepted by house of Fraser customers. It shows how after careful customer’s brief analysis, good communication with the company and factory along with a good understanding of trends and final customer taste, it is possible to identify and comprehend the key elements that will make a design to be successful in the high street. 
As lecturers we have the responsibility to make sure that Product Design students understand every aspect of the design process beyond its aesthetics, function, etc. We have to go further and not just guide them to be creative and conceptual but to make students to see the bigger picture and understand the reality of the global market.

Silvia Juárez
Product Design Lecturer

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