Neocon 2018: Blurred Lines

Neocon 2018: Blurred Lines

As a product development consultancy, our company works in a range of markets from furniture to theme park rides. When comparing technical projects involving theme park restraints or autonomous automotive interiors to furniture, we typically view furniture design as relativity straight forward. Then there are days we walk through 10 showroom floors filled with nothing but furniture and we are reminded that no design is simple and straight forward. In other words, not all chairs are created equal.

Neocon Blog Collage

Furniture design is about a user’s environment; it is emotive and primal. We continue to see a trend of blurring the lines between home and office and it has never been more noticeable than now. From texture to color and finishes, we see furniture companies do what they can to differentiate in a market so saturated it’s water-logged. This makes design more important than ever. What makes a chair stand out in a building with thousands? This question is only answered by thorough research, well-balanced design and pointed execution.

As work environments continue to change through new products brought to market it creates new design challenges for future product development. We’ve seen offices open-up in terms of floor plans and desk configurations. In response, we’ve seen walled conference rooms, isolation pods and other creative answers to noisy environments with little privacy. This creates a continuous cycle of new design challenges and constant need for new product development and research.

This continuous cycle of research and product development will continue to focus on user experience. This will always be the driving force for furniture whether it be healthcare, home or office. It is our job as designers and engineers to continue this process for both the users and the companies that rely on us to help bring successful product to market. Constantly evaluating users, environments and products allows us to stay relevant in a fast-paced world and consistently deliver innovative and responsible product.

In competitive job markets, we see spatial and furniture design as a recruiting tool for companies to bring the best talent into their teams. Furniture design is used as a powerful driving force behind a company’s brand identity and a continuation of their culture. All these decisions have a lasting impact that goes far beyond what looks “good” in your office park.

All in all, Neocon serves as our annual memento for how far furniture has come and all the problems we still need to solve. It is truly incredible to see so many different designs for something that, in theory, could be as simple as an elevated surface. This serves as a constant reminder that our design problems, industries and businesses are forever changing and evolving.

 

(All photos taken while attending Neocon 2018)

Conor Fredricks
Industrial Designer
Fredricks Design, Inc.

Fredricks Design, Inc. is a full-service design and engineering firm based in Grand Haven, Michigan. The firm specializes in working as an extension of the client studio and engineering team to identify the right problems and accelerate development of solutions from early ideation, feasibility, concept development and production of mock-ups, prototypes and show properties. Fredricks works with key Clients in the automotive interiors and seating industries, advanced rides and show action projects for themed attractions, furniture, healthcare and consumer products markets.

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CES2018 Mobility Ideas, Concepts & Future Solutions

CES2018 Mobility Ideas, Concepts & Future Solutions

image source: google images

Back to the future…

“The Jetsons” was a hit cartoon when I was growing up (produced by Hanna-Barbera,aired in primetime from September 23, 1962, to March 17, 1963). For a half hour every week, the show engulfed my imagination in a future world where people were enabled by robots, automation and streamlined, on demand mobility options. Rosie the maid was a robot and everything seemed so much easier for humans. The family seemed so happy, except when they were complaining about the hard work and minor inconveniences of life. Many things have changed over the years, now decades, and some things will remain the same.

This lifestyle, as it relates to mobility and the way we interact with products, is a reality in the developed countries of this world. CES showcased IoT, smart city, smart home and automotive technologies to improve our lives. That’s the idea anyway.

(more…)

CES 2016 Insights

CES 2016 Insights

 

Photo by John F. Martin for Delphi.

A visit to CES is like taking a trip to Europe. You have to choose where you spend your time or you run the risk of experiential overload. There is a lot to see and too little time. A high degree of patience is required for any visit to Las Vegas. There are people everywhere and dinner reservations are at a premium. These, of course, are developed world problems and I was lucky to be able to experience the show over two busy days.

CES is set up in 2.74m square feet of space housed in three different venues from the north of the Strip to the south end. There were 3800 companies exhibiting and the show attracted approximately 175k visitors from North America, Europe, Asia and many other countries. The investment in manpower, travel, marketing, show design, exhibit fabrication, setup and tear down must be an astronomical number. It’s really amazing that anyone with business credentials, a nominal fee for entry and the desire to walk miles every day can experience everything the show has to offer. (more…)

Neocon 2014: Beanbags and Phone-booths

Neocon 2014: Beanbags and Phone-booths

cartoon phone booth and beanbag

A brief recap of our visit to Neocon 2014…

For those who are not familiar, Neocon is an annualexposition for commercial interiors; the industry leaders (and followers) come to Chicago to showcase their latest furniture, fixtures, and materials. It can be quite a party, but we’re usually there to uncover trends, be inspired, and admire the great design work that many of the companies are continuing to produce. We saw a shift in the respect for individual needs and designing spaces that accommodate them. We’d like to share what we saw and wherewe see it going… (more…)

Fredricks Design, Inc. 30 Years

Fredricks Design, Inc. 30 Years

Our story…

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Fredricks Design, Inc. The story of our 2nd generation, family run product development business is a case study in big dreams realized through hard work, good luck, and our commitment to doing things really well.

Fredricks was founded in 1984 in a little cottage on the north bank of the Grand River in Grand Haven, Michigan. The startup was based on the shared vision of two brothers, Maury (myself) and Bruce Fredricks. We developed the framework of our vision for the new company over wine and tapas while living and working in Andalucia, Spain. I returned to Michigan in 1984 and Bruce returned stateside to join the startup the following year. (more…)