New Designers

I was fortunate to be able to present my final year degree project at New Designers in London this week.

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Presenting in my bit of the Aston University stand

Being able to showcase my work to the world and talk about the project to a diverse audience was a liberating and fulfilling experience. For me, the highlight was the sense of intrigue and excitement from visitors when they realised what the project was about since home heating is a daily task (struggle?) that everyone goes through, and visitors felt that the design solution showed promise for changing the heating control paradigm in the future.

I am very grateful for the praise, interest, connections gained, and most importantly, the feedback I received when exhibiting. This project is particularly special to me and I’m more than certain it will continue to live as I commence work back at Worcester Bosch next month.

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Comfort | The Next Generation Heating Control

Comfort is a simple, yet powerful control to managing home heating, delivering state of the art features, without requiring a smartphone. Comfort appeals to a wide audience by delivering modern conveniences in a familiar and simple to use package.

The idea for Comfort came after a year of working for domestic heating market leaders; Worcester Bosch as a Product Management Intern with constant exposure to a spectrum of end users and installers from which key insights could be drawn.

Continue reading Comfort | The Next Generation Heating Control

Aston Design Show and New Designers Branding

I led the brand team to define the branding aesthetic for Aston University’s exhibitions both at New Designers in London, and the Aston Inspired Design show; held on the university campus in Birmingham.

Each event was a chance for final year product design students to show the general public and potential employers their work, as well as represent the university.

Continue reading Aston Design Show and New Designers Branding

Life and Planet Earth II

Watching David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II, I couldn’t help but think that observing the animal world shows how life can have such little meaning. We’re all on this planet trying to survive, for most animals, it is the purpose of their day, and if they don’t, they die.

We as humans face the same challenges, if we don’t find food, we can no longer be on this planet, like some twisted version of The Hunger Games where we are all playing. However, we have made the quest for survival easier, more convenient, comfortable. That’s because we developed this way; to be able to think, change the status quo, but is there a destiny greater than enduring nearly a century on this planet? Everything else we are doing, for what purpose? To entertain our overly developed minds to endure earth? What if it wasn’t meant to be this way? That Earth was meant to be an animal kingdom, to fight for food, or die.

That got a bit deep and cynical, I suppose what makes us different as humans, is that we can make more of life than what animals can; it isn’t just a fight for survival, but a series of experiences, emotions, hopes, and dreams. As designers, we more than most, have a unique view of the world and how society responds to what life is. We create what we think people want to experience in the limited timeframe that is life on Earth.

Image credit: BBC

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Product Management Industrial Placement at Worcester Bosch

For the past year, I have been on an industrial placement for the sandwich year of my degree working at Worcester Bosch as a Product Management Intern.

I started the role not very sure what product management was, having only read about careers in PRM online, discovering that it could vary significantly between companies.

I started the year with three goals:

  1. To see the development and strategy behind products
  2. To understand how individual departments come together to create successful products
  3. To learn about the processes and work culture in a large organisation

A year at Bosch has allowed for me to meet these goals, whilst at the same time giving me a significantly clearer view of where I want to go in the future; UX design.

The processes used by Bosch has opened my mind to the many facets involved with developing a product, and how this is managed. Product Management’s breadth of involvement across the company, how every department is affected and depended on by PRM to ensure the development and delivery of a single product, is impressive. Each PRM is the CEO of a product, and has to ensure each division of their company is on board.

Supporting UX sessions was a task I had from my third week since starting, and since then it has made me realise a lot about my own future career. One of the reasons I wanted to work at Bosch was to see how the idea for a product is realised and how it goes from an idea into a brief, then a concept. Contrasting with university, the brief is usually already set, or an idea is already in mind, so to see the step before this was hugely insightful.

This was perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of my role; to be able to explore ideas that might not hit the market for perhaps another 5 years. I was fascinated by how user experience sessions were conducted, how people’s commentary was turned into insights and understandings, with which, the premise for a new product, vision or feature could be found. From this, I have been able to develop skills in how to identify different consumer needs and form insights from research; a critical element to any future design work.

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UX testing in progress

I’ve long seen myself somewhere in between Product Management and R&D, which is one of the reasons I took this placement, to find out which works better for me. The high level of thinking, analysis, understanding, and strategic planning required to be a product manager was something that I loved. I also enjoyed being able to seek customer insights and use this to help define the direction of products in the future, but I would also like to be able to turn some of this direction into designs and concepts, since it is the next logical step.

This highlights to me that I absolutely cannot avoid the design itself – I want to be able to sweat the small stuff, see, and create the future. This is why for me, being a UX designer makes more sense at the moment; PRM own the product across the entire company, managing it end to end, but I want to focus on just shipping a damn good product.

Being at Bosch also showed me something very important about large companies; that even though the company is vast and full of process and procedure, you can never undervalue the sense of togetherness that being in a team can bring, especially when your efforts are recognised and rewarded in ways a process could never deliver.

My manager recognised that I had an interest in pursuing UX design, and ensured that I made it to Germany to attend a UX conference Bosch had organised. This also coincided with another opportunity with the Head of Industrial Design for Bosch Thermotechnology, also in Germany.

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At the UX Conference in Germany

I had a fantastic time being in Product Management for a year at Bosch. By creating my own opportunities and being able to make an impact on the future of the company, I feel proud of the work I have undertaken throughout the year, and am also deeply thankful for the support I received to make it happen. Importantly, it helped provide direction on what I want to do in my future, what industries I want to work in, and what working for a well established company is like.

Looking forward to the next year, I want to build on my experiences at Bosch and continue to work with them for my final year design project where I am re-evaluating how consumers interact with their heating system and design a solution that truly meets the needs, wants, and insights gained from consumers. This is directly considering what the future of heating could be, and something I hope will be insightful to Bosch upon completion.