Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Product Design Project: Safe Sizer Choking Prevention Plates

I am excited to be able to share the results of a great collaborative project that I've been working on this year...Illustrations for the Safe Sizer Choking Prevention Plates. I have had the opportunity to work with David Zak of Midwest Monkeys for several years now on his child safety-related designs. This summer I was given the opportunity to work on some new and more modern-looking designs for his line of SafeSizer plates. If you visit his website's product page, you can see the original "nature series," and below that the new "animal series."

In a nutshell, I was asked to create some more modern designs that could better fit into someone's kitchen...not as bright and "kid-ish" as the original designs. After some research into some patterns and color combinations that were relevant to the market, I presented David with several options, ranging from geometric patterns to basic colors to animal illustration.

After we landed on the color schemes and this idea of "animals and the foods they eat," I was very happy to have the opportunity to bring in my sister, Heidi Panelli of Panelli Design, to turn my quick concept illustrations into more professional final art. At first David was a little reluctant to bring in another designer, being that he was happy with the plates as they were. However, knowing her talent and expertise as an illustrator could take these images to a whole new level, I was fortunate enough to have a client who in the end, valued the design process and my opinions enough to allow me to bring in Heidi to complete the project.

Design direction as illustrated by GF Design:

Final art created by Panelli Design:

Taking the overall design direction and colors from my quick illustrations, Heidi took them all up a notch, giving them the professional, fun and playful look that David and I were after. The end resulted in a fantastic new line of plates to further differentiate David's great idea of the Safe Sizer Choking Prevention ring, molded into each plate.

Luckily for David and all of my clients, my ego is not so big as to prevent me from recognizing when someone I know would be better suited for part of a particular project. I am always looking for ways to give my clients the best work possible, even if it means passing off work to someone else. My clients have always been happy with the results on the projects that my sister and I collaborate on. I hope to do more collaborative projects like this down the road! Many thanks to David of Midwest Monkeys for being open enough to allow the design process to work, and for having enough faith in us as designers to allow us to do what it took to get to reach the best end product possible!

Book Review: The X and Y of Buy

As a book review blogger for Thomas Nelson publishers, I recently read "The X and Y of Buy," by Elizabeth Pace. I thought that this book would be beneficial to my work, especially with all of the retail fixture design that I do. Whether we like it or not, the fact is that men and women are different in the way they are wired. Understanding these differences will only make you better at designing for and/or selling to both sexes.

The first part of the book goes through the "hardwired" differences between Men and Women, such as their brain structure, and how Men's and Women's left and right hemispheres work together in completely different ways. Pace likens the way men's brains work to a file cabinet, compartmentalized and focused, with the ability to "turn off" and be 70% less active when at rest. The woman's brain, on the other hand, is likened to all of those files spread out on a large table: everything touches everything else, and the brain is only 10% less active when at rest. I could definitely relate to this myself, as I know my mind keeps racing with to-do's even when I'm trying to go to sleep. (I find it helps a lot to keep a note pad by my bed to jot things down, allowing me to forget about them for the night and finally rest!)

These hardwired differences translate into the completely different ways that men and women shop. Pace does a great job throughout the book, illustrating (through word, graphics, and tables) our biological differences, how they affect the way we shop, and giving examples of how a salesperson might interact with a male vs female customer.

The second part of the book is divided up to specifically address "the X of Buy" and "the Y of Buy," giving examples of how to work with and sell to men and women individually, which Pace calls "GenderCycle Selling" (TM). Here she takes you through scenarios for both men and women, both in the business-to-business sales and the retail or direct-to-customer sales situations. With tips on how to engage in and close off a conversation, and key words to use throughout the sale, Pace leaves nothing out of the process.

While I myself am not a sales person by title, I do find sales tips and techniques to be extremely useful in the design profession. Whether I am selling my services to a potential new client, or selling a design concept to a full board room of decision makers, sales is a part of my job. In addition to being armed with good sales techniques, knowing my customer (or end user of a product) is extremely important to the success of a design. This book has given me more insight into a very basic yet very influential part of my end users' identities, their gender, which gives me a head start right from the beginning. I would recommend this book to anyone who either works in sales, or simply would like to improve their understanding of and communication with both men and women.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Craighton Berman's Coil lamp

Most of my favorite designs are those that evoke the question, "why didn't I think of that?!" Craighton Berman's Coil Lamp is one of those designs.

By wrapping a 100' extension cord around a carefully designed, laser-cut plexiglass structure, Craighton Berman manages to turn an extension cord from the garage into an accessory worthy of prime tabletop space inside the home.

It's one of those products that looks so simple when the average person sees it, yet only those with a grasp of the Industrial Designer's profession understand the amount of work that goes into making such a great idea look so flawlessly simple.

(Via Core77)