CONSUMER products

Ransomes

The principles of grass cutting have changed little since Ransomes produced the world’s first lawn mower in the late 18th century. 

 

What has changed is the market which has become highly competitive with a multitude of products from the Far East, the US and Europe.  How then to rekindle Ransomes’ position in the market and justify its higher manufacturing costs?

 

Our review highlighted several opportunities: emphasis on ergonomic features; a modular

assembly to allow production of four-wheel and roller versions based on a common aluminium cast deck and styling. 

 

The form we created is flush, dynamic and easy to clean, evoking the best practices of the automotive industry.

Zebra

As one of Japan’s leading pen manufacturers, Zebra had invested heavily in a production line for the manufacture of steel pens, but was in need of new products to make best use of capacity.

 

Our first product for the company was the TX2 pen and pencil employing steel body construction but introducing additional plastic and rubber components to create tactile features.  High-fashion colours and chrome finishes reinforced the emotional appeal.

 

 

 

The exercise proved an important catalyst in changing management’s understanding of how design can enhance product appeal and generate new concepts.

 

Russell Hobbs

High-volume consumer products require styling decisions which respect the evolution of market tastes if they are to succeed. Our design for this heavy aluminium range was the first to offer variable venting lid knobs and we paid particular attention to the substantial ergonomic handles shaped for a firm grip.

 

Over some 12 years the design evolved through detail changes and colour variants to become an extremely successful product line.

Panasonic

Japanese manufacturer Panasonic was ambitious to increase its share of the home appliances market in Europe to justify its investment in a new plant, in Spain. 

 

The vacuum cleaner market in Northern Europe was the target opportunity, but how to differentiate the product based around conventional technology? 

 

Our design incorporated a number of ergonomic features including a loop handle and raised controls integrated into a sophisticated form which was both easy to clean and elegant.

The resulting product was much richer in features than its competitors, with an attractive price.  It was the market leader for several years.

 

 

Scholl

Scholl the foot-care specialists, had enormous success with their famous wooden sandal but by the early 90’s sales were tailing off.  Was there an opportunity to regain the initiative?

 

 Our concept aimed to use the materials, technologies and processes of the sports shoe industry, to create a comfortable leisure-wear sandal that podiatrists would endorse.  Whatever the features might be, research confirmed that first and foremost the new shoe had to be stylish and elegant. 

 

Our design combines a safety grip sole, stability flair, a roll heel and memory pad insole all integrated in a refined footbed. 

 

The suede and leather quilted uppers are fastened by a single action adjustment for width and length.

Sodastream

Carbonated drinks are loved by children, but creating your own at home can add to the fun.  Children enjoy the activity and parents benefit from lower costs and less lugging of large heavy bottles.

 

What Sodastream needed, having developed the system and distribution, was a device which would be easy and safe for children to operate and yet appeal to parents as a stylish kitchen product, since they were the purchasers.

 

We proposed an upright configuration with a tilted-back bottle cavity set behind a transparent, rotating safety door.  This allowed one-handed bottle installation yet minimised spillage.  Carbonation is activated by the large top button with a safety lock to ensure the protective door is fully closed.

 

 

Through the use of one large moulding, with side cores, we were able to create both a rigid mounting chassis and soft-flowing easily cleaned exterior lines.

 

We subsequently went on to develop a number of products based on the Sodastream carbonation system.

This elegant device would mix and carbonate drinks by the individual glass. 

Zebra

With a distribution network of 10,000 shops throughout Japan Zebra’s management was keen to find new product lines. Having begun as a pen nib manufacturer in the early 1900s we suggested exploring the potential of a luxury range based upon based around a quality fountain pen.

 

Working closely with the management team we created the brand identity, fountain pen and pencil designs, eventually extending the range through the introduction of high-quality leather products.

 

Understated branding, careful selection of materials and quality detailing where essential throughout the project.

Thorn

As one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of lamps and light fittings Thorn had seen its market share eroded, particularly in the market for display and spotlights, by specialist manufacturers in mainland Europe and the Far East. 

 

Our brief was to bolster sales of conventional tungsten lamps with a new cost-effective range of fittings aimed at the low-end retail and domestic markets.

 

 

 

The range employed high-performance plastics and die-castings that provide for track, ceiling and wall-mounting options.

 

 

Kef

is one of a number of small British audio companies that have earned themselves a big international reputation.  In the mid-1990’s however Kef found itself lagging behind competitors in the growing market for home cinema systems, most particularly in the United States.  They needed a new range of products with innovative features at a price to meet this demand.

 

Our initial study revealed opportunities in processes and materials that would allow Kef to break away from the conventional box structure into more dynamic and expressive product forms.

Using plastics also created opportunities for innovative features, such as the ball and socket mounting on the satellite speakers that provides for maximum adjustment at a low investment cost. 

 

The design style carefully complements other products in the Kef range, so as to establish an enduring overall design identity. 

Hitachi

When this Japanese conglomerate decided to target the European microwave market, they were wise enough to recognise that their Tokyo-based team did not have a sufficient understanding of local cooking traditions and cultural differences – hence our commission.  

 

Our solution evolved around a clean architectural look based on high spec curved glass.

We were particularly pleased with the ergonomic interface that groups buttons by colour and shape according to frequency of use. 

 

Attention was also paid to the positioning of displays and control buttons so as to give the user easily understood feedback.

Russell Hobbs

Having had considerable success with their pressed aluminium range the Russell Hobbs team asked us to explore the potential of a range of stainless steel cookware.

 

From a considered  understanding of the constraints of manufacture and market factors we produced ideas for both the geometric and soft forms. 

 

 It is fine details that make all the difference on such simple products and with that in mind we presented concepts as fully finished spun models correct in every detail of weight and finish.

Fry

For this French team specialising in oak furniture we designed a range of substantial seating and planters for landscapes and gardens.

 

Recognising a special requirement our larger planter incorporates off the shelf stainless steel fittings to allow opening for root trimming without disturbing the main plant.

 

Stiga

Over the years we’ve become quite expert at the design of lawnmowers 

 - this range for Swedish company Stiga being our second commission.

 

The brand look we created to run across their whole range of walk behind mowers had to be viable for steel pressed, plastic and diecast decks and reflect the durability that is necessary in this marketplace.

 

20 years later the range remains in production.

 

Yoshinaga

Yoshinaga, Japan’s leading manufacturer of personal accessories, reviews its product range on a continuous basis to keep pace with fashion – an on-going creative demand.

 

These cigarette lighters were part of a series of products arising from a strategy proposal that we prepared for them. The leaning form of the table lighter left invites the hand around a stone or timber sphere whilst right is ultra-slim and highly tactile with a subtly integrated flip-top action.

 

 

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