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  • The Innovative Transformation of an Experienced Designer

    09 May 2017
    S.Point, Member Firm (China)

    Recently, some friends and I talked about the bravery of design companies making their own products and the opportunities and challenges in the course of industrialization... I think it might be a good time to talk with my old friends and new partners about industrial design in which I have been engaged for many years and about the thoughts and changes that this industry has brought to me.

    Frankly speaking, industrial design has not developed towards the ideal direction in the past years, and is now in a bottleneck period. In this period, the industry is characterized by uncertainty, which is mainly reflected in two aspects:

    First, the full application of industrial design to good brands and products is not common. We see there are some local brands that are using industrial design very well, and have introduced a lot of good products, such as Xiaomi and Xiaoniu. But there are only a few such brands in the market.

    Second, the role of industrial design in businesses is becoming more and more obscure. Can it lead businesses to an innovative path? Can it solve product, industrial and management problems? No one can give a clear positive answer. However, the uncertainty of industrial design is not a bad thing. At least, from the experience of myself, who has been engaged in the industry for 27 years and managed S.POINT for 20 years, uncertainty means opportunity.

    I think the industrial design industry should be understood in three dimensions:

    1. Industry

    Due to its uncertainty, it's time to redefine industrial design. The term "industrial design" was inherited from the industrial revolution. The great changes brought about by mechanized production have improved production efficiency and changed people's way of life. Since its creation, industrial design has undergone different stages with the changes in science and technology, industry and consumption. Today, its uncertainty is likely to lead to an outcome in the future: As an industry name, "industrial design" may disappear. A few years back, we heard many exaggerations about this industry. Industrial design was interpreted as a magic power that could solve all kinds of problems. In the past two years, we also heard some bad-mouthing about this industry. In fact, these views were expressed by people from their different angles. As a design practitioner, we should have the courage, wisdom and an open attitude to accept and reflect on the changes brought by time and to rebuild this industry. We do not need to rigidly adhere to the term "industrial design". Uncertainty does not mean a negative direction. The new positioning of industrial design is the basis for our practitioners to survive, and our doubts about the value of this industry are the prerequisite for its sustained development. It will be more meaningful if we take a healthy and confident attitude to seek and define the significance and application value of the new "grand design" and to think about our industry and how we can make valuable contributions to the society with our expertise.

    2. Design companies

    For design companies, survival comes first. No matter its specific business operation, such as consulting, independent brand development and integration of cross-border resources, all design companies need to adjust their positioning according to their own capabilities and market opportunities. The same is true with S.POINT. Only our business model is more unique. We call it "genetic mutation" model. On the one hand, we still rely on design genes and base our work on design. On the other hand, we are shifting from the service industry to the product innovation industry. In this process, our team, business and goals have all undergone tremendous changes. The role of design in businesses and our specific methods of work are completely different now. In the past, design is our core business, but now, it is only a part of industrialization. In the past, we rely on designer to serve customers, but now, we depend on cooperation of a team made up of people from a variety of fields including consulting, retail, marketing and anthropology.

    After working in the design industry for more than 20 years, I've fully realized that the contact between businesses and consumers must be through a specific product or service, and that no consumers will pay for the service model of businesses. The natural B2B service attributes of design companies block their communication with consumers. We can only have a direct dialogue with consumers in order to truly reach their needs, thus creating products or services that meet their needs. Therefore, S.POINT has chosen the path of "product innovation". Instead of leaving our works on paper, we gain market opportunities through consumer insights before designing, producing and delivering finished products to consumers. Over the past 20 years, S.POINT has accumulated ability, experience and opportunities, which has contributed to our transition from services to products. There were many risks in the process, but we successfully resolved them by adjusting ourselves, and we have achieved some results. For example, in 2016, we designed and produced a facial cleansing instrument for a customer and the customer placed three consecutive orders, making the product a best-seller. In 2017, based on our insights, we designed, developed and mass-produced a children's toothbrush. The product has been launched to the market. We've fully achieved product innovation throughout the whole industry chain and will consecutively launch 3 product categories and 9 SKU products. We expect more than 500,000 products will be sold and the product will become another best-seller. We are still groping our way forward, and everything can be proven by time, but at least judging from our current development, we are on the right path.

    Original Article 

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