Photo by www.PhotographybyDov.com
Master designer Robert Brunner closed out the World Innovation Forum last week with an excellent presentation on the role of DESIGN in the innovative process. Many of Brunner's accomplishments occured as Chief Designer at Apple (most notably the MacBook, according to Wikipedia). Pictured below are some of the elegant product designs that Brunner has worked on, including the Fuego grill, Lady Gaga headphones, and the Barnes & Noble e-book reader.
One of Brunner's main points from the conference is that design should not be an activity that occurs as one stage of the idea-to-implementation process. Design should be a part of every stage of the process, from engineering, to manufacturing, to customer operation, and to customer service. In short, he espoused that everyone needs to be a designer.
Brunner discussed the "innovative spark" that launched these three products:
- The Fuego idea occurred because of the isolation a chef experiences on a traditional outdoor grill. A flipped-up grill lid gets in the way of face-to-face socialization. The idea was born of a flatter, more elegant grill that people could socialize around.
- The headphone line was launched by Dr. Dre's displeasure that "people don't hear my music, audio products don't support my sound profile". This lead to the idea that the lousy ear buds provided on most iPods could be replaced with more attractive high-tech audio devices with attitude.
- The B&N reader was conceived with the thought that "books do not have buttons". A new type of e-book reader could have an interface that is intuitively natural for a traditional book lover.
In the course of bringing these products from idea to product, Brunner highlighted four important points:
- Great products are more than objects. It's also about how you market it, how it's acquired, how it's used, and how it's supported.
- Your brand is not your logo. Your brand is the gut feel people have about your product (and therefore companies can't define their own brand).
- Everyone in the room is a designer (all parts of the idea-to-delivery process).
- Risk is not a four-letter word. If you are willing to take a risk, you can be disruptive. Today, not taking risks can be risky, because risk equals innovation.
Brunner closed his talk by highlighting the next idea which is about to be brought to market: "Empower Me" personal solar panels. These panels can be hung on windows, and they gather power which can then be used to charge iPods, power lamps, etc. The device has built-in statistics which individuals can share with each other. The sleek device is shown below.
Brunner's talk was entertaining and useful. The message was simple: don't relegate design to one phase of the innovation life cycle.