Archive for the ‘General Interest’ Category

Feltro 2 Feltro 3

by Rebecca Brunette

If you attended this year’s Interior Design Show in Toronto, you likely have an affinity for design and beautiful spaces. Rooms adorned with designer furniture delicately arranged according to the golden ratio, flanked in symmetry by ceiling-high windows, topped with a grand chandelier! What order – what bliss! Who doesn’t indulge in the reverie of what stylish domestic living should be? But what happens when you through kids in the mix?

The Modern Building Block
Sam Kennedy, a recent graduate from OCAD’s Industrial Design program, may just have the solution to maintaining the fine balance between play space and adult space within the home. Sam is the enthusiastic creator of Feltro, an interactive construction toy; a sort of modern take on the classic building block. Those of us who remember our grade school geometry lessons will recognize the Feltro module as the friendly trapezoid, made of blended wool felt and edged with magnets. Currently designed in two sizes and in a multitude of beautiful colours, Feltro becomes a geometric rug, a modern play fort, or your next ball gown. As if there weren’t enough reasons to get excited about these clever fabric sheets, the Feltro building modules are also manufactured in Cambridge, with most materials sourced from North America.

Rocket to Reality
We first met Sam at the ACIDO Rocket Competition in May 2013, where he showcased Feltro as his design thesis project. Sam cleaned up a multitude of awards including recognition from Ideatious and Umbra. Rocket boasts participation from Ontario’s top industrial design graduates of Carleton University, OCADU, and Humber; a fascinating window into the minds of tomorrows creative professionals. Not only did Sam feel Feltro was validated as a market worthy product, he also received valuable counsel from experienced members of the design community; advice that has led to a patent and trademark pending on the Feltro product and brand.

More than Child’s Play
Feltro bridges the worlds of play, design, and abstract creativity, bringing playful exploration into any living space. But don’t expect Feltro to stay within the confines of domestic life. With its minimalist design and simple assembly, the soft modules transform into flexible dividers, creating pockets of privacy within open concept offices.

Local Support
It seems Feltro is well on its way to home (and office) spaces across Canada, a claim not many designers can make so soon after graduation. Sam has been working with the Imagination Catalyst, OCAD U’s entrepreneurship and commercialization hub, exploring funding opportunities, and receiving entrepreneurial support. Armed with talented illustrator, Adam Hilborn, buddies Steve Tam and Jesse Cowan, and even his dear mother, Sam Kennedy is braving the many challenges of bringing Feltro to life.

To follow Feltro’s adventures towards production you can visit their website (link to sign up for their newsletter. We also heard word that a Kickstarter campaign is on the horizon, so you can back this budding company and help build Feltro into a force of imaginative play. Whether you’re after a stylish diversion for the kids or you simply can’t resist its limitless building potential, Feltro is one playful pastime that won’t need stowing away.

Rebecca Brunette squareRebecca Brunette is an Industrial Designer at Swave Studios and the Social Media Strategist for ACIDO.

Feltro 4

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Feltro 5 - Credit Feltro Site 1

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Feltro 5 - Credit Feltro Site 2

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The bublcam, designed by ACIDO member Dylan Horvath with Cortex design, is a 360º camera and software technology that shares everything around you through spherical photos and videos.

360º Technology for Everyone

The bublcam is the world’s most innovative 360º camera, inside and out. Our camera has been developed to be light and extremely portable (it’s slightly larger than a baseball). It was also created to provide users with the ability to capture 14 mega pixel spherical photos and videos at 1080p at 15 fps and 720p at 30fps. Our software suite lets you experience content by looking up, down and all around in any direction. You can even share your moments across your favourite social networks. It utilizes Wi-fi to allow you to live stream directly to your PC, mobile devices and via the web. We’ve also made easy for you to save your content to a MicroSD card. Get ready because your content will soon be available for storage directly to your favourite cloud storage providers like Drop Box, Google Drive and Younity. We’re doing our best to help you capture life in a bubl.

Check out their KICKSTARTER campaign to learn more; it has already been successful (after 14 hrs!) in raising the $100K they were looking for to fund development of the first pilot run of the camera.

Transcending Fearl - 2013

Panellists from left to right: Indigo’s creative director Paddy Harrington, architect Andrei Zerebecky of Four O Nine, designer Alison Phillips of Blackberry, and designer Jonathan Loudon of Swave Studios.

By Rebecca Brunette

October 4th, 2013

Fear. It can be your biggest impediment to innovation, but can it be harnessed to spark creativity? A panel of Canadian and international designers braved the question, exposing personal and professional fears last week at the IIDEX Canada seminar “Transcending fear to Drive Innovation”.

A struggling economy is often perceived as an impediment to business. People become conservative and risk adverse, making experimentation scarce. In these times [clients] often want to follow rather than lead, and only make incremental improvements”, says designer Jonathan Loudon, owner of Toronto creative agency Swave Studios. But fear turns into excitement and energy, and can make us very resourceful, he says, reminding us that the weak economy has been a catalyst for entrepreneurial platforms such as Kickstarter. As president of Ontario’s Association of Chartered Industrial Designers (ACIDO), Loudon is familiar with the fear that often accompanies innovative projects, known to passionate entrepreneurs and  established companies alike who look to disrupt a given market.

But the world is changing, rapidly. It can be difficult to keep up with the competition, let alone lead the way. Panel moderator, Azure editor Catherine Osborne, inquires as to how Indigo is addressing changes in technology and shifts in customers reading habits from paperback to digital. Paddy Harrington, SVP of design innovation and digital creative director, offers a refreshingly philosophical perspective. Indigo is a “purveyor of every idea, ever had by man”, it just so happens, says Harrington, to be in book form. Broadening the context of such questions has allowed Indigo to move beyond the challenge of reading habits, to consider what’s at heart, “the stories that go along with the books”.

This kind of soul searching takes guts, and it’s “easy to get distracted by your competition”, says Alison Phillips, industrial design lead at BlackBerry. Fear can be “palpable”, she confesses. But despite global criticisms and market challenges, BlackBerry is staying true to their core; who they are. “For us, it’s always about the user”, says Phillips, “tapping into the emotions that people experience when they use your product.”

Understanding your customer is critical to ensuring that what your company offers will be valued and relevant. Yet having confidence in the development of innovative ideas is not always simple. There is always the risk of failure,” but you cannot let it paralyze you from innovating”, says architect Andrei Zerebecky, who boldly moved his life from Toronto to Shanghai, in the pursuit of new markets. At the time, there were no guarantees, just instinct and intuition. Now owner of the successful company O Nine, Zerebecky describes Asia as a “sandbox” for creative design work.

In this figurative sandbox, where designers play and new ideas abound, future success is often a cocktail of strategy and intuition. According to Phillips, “intuition must be combined with depth of knowledge and insight”, an approach which offers companies the conviction to carry out innovative ideas. Pragmatically, Harrington reserves his intuition, choosing to hold design solutions against a well defined brief; a check list to affirm his gut feelings. With their many tools, designers are challenging themselves and their clients to harness their fears and approach innovation with nerve.

To sum it up frankly, Loudon suggests the leap of faith for those experiencing fear in the face of innovation. Whether you are a new or existing company, “you have to expect to be disruptive, or else why do you exist?”


Rebecca Brunette square



Rebecca Brunette is an Industrial Designer at Swave Studios and the Social Media Strategist for ACIDO.

What’s the biggest impediment to innovation within an organization? Fear. Join a prestigious panel of Canadian and international industrial designers as they explore, through their personal insights, how fear is the primary roadblock to innovation. It’s a major buzzword in the business community, but what does it really mean? And how can you be truly innovative when companies are reluctant to take risks? Learn how industrial designers can be change-agents of innovation. Gain valuable insights on how to lead clients to undertake real innovation, by breaking down fear and enabling companies to develop results-driven strategic business plans with innovation as their calling card.

On Friday September 27 ACIDO President, Jonathan Loudon, will be part of an AZURE/IIDEX panel discussing “Transcending Fear to Drive Innovation.”

For more information please click HERE

Seminar Registration Instructions:
Step 1: Click here and select the seminars you would like to attend. The ACIDO association seminar is entitled: F05 Transcending Fear to Drive Innovation

Step 2: Click the Register button.

Step 3: Complete the registration process, including your personal details and demographics. When you reach the Select Sessions stage the seminars you selected in Step 1 (above) will be pre-selected.

IIDEX Innovation Panel - 2013





Read the full article HERE

Radice stool by Industrial Facility for Mattiazzi

News: the deliberate copying of a design is set to become a criminal offence in the UK, in line with the law on breaching copyright and trademarks.

The change, announced this week by the Intellectual Property Office, is intended to simplify and shorten the legal process surrounding design right disputes by moving them from the UK’s civil courts to its criminal courts.




Grano-Hellwig May 7


Gibson Product Design's soundbar and subwoofer for Definitive Technology. (Gibson)



Ugly but functional? Why ignoring design is a bad idea


Special to The Globe and Mail


Last updated 


Whether it’s that contoured compost pail on the kitchen counter, or that elegant sound bar with its wireless speaker you just added to your sound system, they were designed and developed by the ‘invisible people’ – a group of innovative thinkers called industrial designers.

“Working behind the scenes, we help make products useable and loved by the people that buy them,” says Scott Gibson, president of Gibson Product Design in Ottawa, an industrial design consultancy in business for more than 30 years.

But, despite the company’s long track record and numerous awards, very few of its clients are Canadian companies. And this lack of focus on design doesn’t bode well for Canadian companies’ competitiveness, industry experts say.

Mr. Gibson has recently returned from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, where the company was honoured with its seventh consecutive CES Innovation Award. The firm’s latest winning project is a home theatre surround-sound system for its long-time client, loudspeaker brand Definitive Technology, based in Owings Mills, Md. Gibson was responsible not only for the industrial design and early stage mechanical development of all the components, but also for creating set-up instructions and point-of-purchase material.

Most of Gibson’s awards have been for products designed for U.S. companies; only two, in the past seven years, were Canadian. There just aren’t a lot of Canadian producers hammering at the doors of Canadian industrial design houses.

To a large extent, the Canadian manufacturing industry hasn’t really needed to turn to industrial design until recently. Up until four years ago, most Canadian manufacturers were engaged in making parts for American-assembled products, says Jayson Myers, economist and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. That led to engineer-driven, price-competitive companies, as opposed to marketing-driven, design-competitive producers.

In today’s economic climate Canadian manufacturers need to develop new products of their own that can compete on world markets, Mr. Myers says. It’s that shift that’s turning the spotlight onto the ‘invisible’ role of design in the general rush to build a new innovation economy in Canada.

“Design is really important for being able to specialize your product for your customer, and appealing to that customer,” Mr. Myers says. “In today’s global markets, Canadian product manufacturers can’t compete on existing technology alone, so design has become the ultimate means of differentiation.”

Industry associations, universities and the federal government have all flagged Canada’s lacklustre performance in getting innovation to market.

“There’s a lag in commercialization results in Canada, and the lack of strategic design involvement is one of the reasons,” says Arlene Gould, adjunct professor at York University and strategic director of the Design Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC).

To address that lag, Ms. Gould, together with Tim Poupore, president of Toronto’s Ove Industrial Design Ltd. created a Design Advisory Service program with input from the DIAC board. Their goal is to broaden the adoption of design at every stage of product development by introducing producers to designers.

“We need to improve the ratio of Canadian product manufacturers who appreciate the value of design and use it effectively,” Mr. Poupore says.

Appreciating the value of industrial design means understanding the scope of what it can do. An industrial designer’s task and skill is in creating the look, function, human interface, and manufacturing details, and presenting the stakeholders with clear visual and written representation of the proposed product.

They can best achieve that when they are at the very centre of new product development, because their expertise bridges the gap between marketing and engineering, while addressing manufacturing challenges.

“We have to recognize that the way a product is designed, will inform how it’s manufactured. So good industrial design reduces costs and improves manufacturing efficiency,” Mr. Myers says.

It’s a highly collaborative skill-set that examines the usability, appropriateness, materials and, finally, the user’s emotional response to the product.

“The designer is really the fly paper, capturing inputs from marketing, engineering and creating design solutions that meet both the consumer’s needs and the manufacturing objectives,” Mr. Gibson says.

“For Canadian manufacturing to succeed, design needs to be a core capability – just like marketing or finance,” Ms. Gould says.

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