All of our clients struggle with the same challenges; they have limited internal design and engineering resources, too many projects and not enough time to complete them. They are also looking for fresh insights to develop new products that build an emotional connection with the end user. This situation is prevalent across all markets and companies.

The annual North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is held in January in Detroit. Many of our clients begin scrambling in early fall for resources to meet tight timelines and technical challenges to prepare properties and prototypes for the show.

This brief case study follows our work with a key client from September 2014 through the installation of show properties at NAIAS in January 2015.

How we started?

We were approached by one of our longstanding clients in September of last year to develop a proposal for the development of concepts for the Auto Show. They had originally planned on sourcing the projects with a different studio and ongoing delays had used up any extra time to complete the projects. The available budget for the work was very tight and the technical aspects of the project were a bit of a challenge.

We include our design and engineering team during proposal development to gather different viewpoints and build engagement for the work ahead. This ensures tight team alignment as we move into each project and facilitates open discussions about challenges.

The project was sourced with Fredricks very quickly. Our first step was to meet with an extended cross-functional client team including marketing, design, engineering and manufacturing disciplines. We conducted a thorough kick-off review with all key people in attendance. The client team met with our design and engineering team twice a week for real-time updates and open input on our work.

Brainstorming and ideation

Using input gathered from the client?s marketing group, our design and engineering team launched into brainstorming and ideation of possible concepts for the packaging, materials and mechanisms for the product solution. Brainstorming included designers and engineers to explore and capture a lot of divergent ideas. The raw ideas were sketched and organized and then shared with the broader client team. Decisions were made in real time and the cycle was repeated. Over the course of this project, we conducted numerous brainstorm sessions and client reviews.

Concept development

Quickly moving from ideation into development, we narrowed our approach to focus on the top few ideas for additional exploration and development. The iterative process continued to refine our concepts and identify the very best solution for product. Decisions were made through cross-functional design reviews including opinions and recommendations from key disciplines within the client team.

From concept to reality

Prototyping resources were included in reviews as we moved into the final phase of design and engineering. Our team?s disciplined transition into prototype build helped identify any remaining areas needing improvement and problem areas for build and assembly. Frequent reviews with the build source enabled us to answer questions and make tweaks on the fly.


The project was completed on schedule, just before the holidays, and shipped to our client for integration into the show property, which was then installed at their showroom at NAIAS. The concepts generated very positive feedback from the car companies and will, from all indications, lead to future production programs, revenue growth for our client and future projects together.

Our client sourced the project with us based on our long-term relationship, past project performance, and trust that, working together, we would be able to deliver excellent solutions quickly and efficiently. By all measures it was another successful project for our extended client team.

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