Where Sustainability, Style, and Production Savings Meet
Can a product be engineered to be stylish, sustainable and cheaper to produce? Yes! The Heartland Table is a great example of how this is possible.
Recently, we partnered with Icon Modern to design and launch their “Heartland Table”. The Heartland Table is manufactured by using urban reclaimed lumber as opposed to standard lumber sourcing. Urban reclaimed lumber is wood from trees in urban settings that are diseased, a nuisance, or have fallen. This wood is typically left to the incinerator or landfill, but is instead reclaimed and finished. Companies like Horigan Urban Forest Products reclaim this wood and treat it to be used by furniture makers, like Icon Modern, or millwork companies.
We used our proprietary sustainable design strategies, as well as a software called Sustainable Minds, to help Icon Modern find the most sustainable production options for their product offerings. The process used revealed that 25 pounds of the reclaimed urban lumber had a 99% smaller carbon footprint at manufacture (assuming a 35 year product life), compared to the same amount of standard wood. Additionally, the Heartland Table with wooden legs has a 97% smaller carbon footprint at manufacture when compared to the standard wood sourcing process.
In order to reduce Icon Modern’s carbon footprint, we chose an “X” design for the foundation of the table because it reduces the material used compared to the standard box frame for a table. This “X” frame design not only benefits the environment and consumer, but the manufacturer as well. The “X” frame requires only 140 inches of metal or wood compared to 186 inches for a standard table frame. This extra 46 inches of material cuts directly into the bottom line. With the new design, the manufacturer cuts its costs on each product made.
The “X” frame creates a lighter visual underneath the table. Coupled with the clean lines and pop of color it creates a modern but approachable appearance that is very versatile and can fit perfectly into any space. We were able to design the table with mass production in mind, minimizing costs and using materials and processes that make manufacturing simple. At the same time each table has a unique aesthetic from its urban wood top, giving an individual feel to each table. This stylish yet eco-friendly table is helping Icon Modern put other tables to shame.
Wouldn’t you like your product to be more stylish, sustainable, and profitable?
By Caroline Tiger – Entrepreneur
There’s no better way to discover how closely design and business are intertwined than to go looking for trends that present opportunities for business owners. Even if a trend isn’t directly applicable to all industries, the notions behind it can inform and influence a diverse range of product development, distribution methods and business processes.
Fred Sparks Design Helps Local Businesses Elevate Their Brand
Since founding Fred Sparks Design in August 2004, Ken Harris, Aaron Brookhart and Brandon Hefer have been helping businesses capitalize on their potential through strategic, innovative and sustainable product, package, and brand design. “We start by doing consumer insight research to find out what they really desire,” says Harris. “Then we take our findings and develop strategies for clients, which typically result in a product.”Whether clients are looking for just consumer research or for a branding strategy from start to finish, Fred Sparks can fulfill whatever level of innovation its client needs. “We’re a good value because we size our service to the customers’ needs,” says Harris. “We develop specific design programs that execute exactly what they need without extraneous added on services or fees.
At fredsparks we use Sustainable Minds to evaluate concept decisions early in the process for our clients. That capability allowed us to capture an equity stake in a start up business developing sustainable reading eyewear. Read more.
By: Kaitlin T. Gallucci
Brand is much more than a name or a logo. Brand is everything, and everything is brand. A brand can have a great logo, but a great logo alone won’t make the brand great. Even a great product alone can’t make a brand great. Making a profit doesn’t even mean that a brand is great. Like Aristotle wrote in the fourth century BC, “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.”
A logo doesn’t make a brand in the same way that simply having a Facebook page doesn’t automatically make a brand social — it’s a good thing to have, but it’s what a brand does with these things that matters. A brand with a beautiful logo can put it on a billboard or put it in the back of a pizzeria menu — these placements will say more about the brand than the logo itself, but even that doesn’t determine a brand in its entirety. Brand is made up of numerous and varied parts, but even further, it’s the combination of these elements that develop a brand. Additionally factored in is the consumer — the consumer says as much about a brand as the brand’s own actions, but the consumer is out of the brand’s control. Considering all of these elements, it can be said, “brand is everything, and everything is brand.”
By: Mark E. Brown
I learned some hard lessons about communicating with people in an earlier life. I always believed that if I had the facts on my side, and logically laid out my arguments to those I was trying to influence, that my message would win the day. What would happen after I explained my finely crafted argument is that I would get my head handed to me on a platter.
Luckily, after one bloody beheading, one of the “old-timers” had mercy on me and told me to remember: “It’s not what you say; it’s what other people hear.” He explained that it’s not enough to be smart and logical. People will always be listening through the filter of his or her emotions, needs, opinions, judgments, and preconceived notions.
By: Drummond Lawson
fredsparks is most effective as an agent of positive change for sustainability when we use environmental innovations to make better products that change user perceptions and ultimately make our clients’ categories evolve.
We find novel materials and designs with embodied environmental benefit and use them to create better and more effective product experiences, packaging that’s easier to use, and product that make consumers happy and healthy.
Relying on product sustainability as a platform for improved user experience is the conceptual opposite of conventional green product design, in which a solitary and peripheral green attribute is tacked onto an existing product. [As an example of the latter, think of bottled water “now with 5 percent less plastic” or paper products, harvested from clear-cut forests but “made using renewable energy”.]
By: Better by Design
Design should be a verb. Design is about doing something – a process more than a product.
That isn’t to say that what’s at the end of the process is unimportant. It is. But getting the process right greatly improves the chances of the getting the product (or service) right.
Design is about identifying problems, asking good questions, and finding better answers. We think that businesses can be better by design. That the principles of design strategy and design process can be applied to companies to help build the bottom line.
We’re not the only ones thinking this way.
Before an attempt is made to capture the customer’s needs for the purpose of innovation, fredsparks methodology requires that a company first understand exactly what job the customer is trying to get done.
This is accomplished by conducting customer interviews to understand the discrete process steps that comprise the job. The breakdown of the job into these discrete steps is translated graphically into a job or behavior map. Job or behavior mapping has many benefits. Its primary purpose is to provide a framework around which to capture and organize need statements and to ensure that all the customer’s needs are captures. Without this insight, a researcher will never know where questioning should be focused or whether or not all the customer’s needs have been uncovered. This has been another ongoing problem with traditional “voice-of-the-customer” [VOC] methods.
Strategy is one of the things we do. Strategery is someone else’s thing.
Strategy isn’t always what we’re hired to do, but our intellectual horsepower, our unique ability to dig quickly and thoroughly to core issues, and a subsequent perspective on our clients’ needs, puts us quickly in a position to go far beyond expectations for our clients.
Let us give you an example. We’re just a few short hours from deadline, and every tick on the clock is a jab at your strategic and creative confidence. The client has already told you to simply use what works; don’t be too strategic or creative. This obstacle becomes more and more daunting.
We’ve all been there. The client knows what they want: safety. We, the design consultancy, know what they need, and we need to fight for that.
By: Steve Goldstein
Sustainability is much more than superficial efforts and marketing-speak to customers. Businesses that grow will make the world’s future more sustainable than it is today.
Business leaders that “get it” and lead their company with sustainability in mind will outperform those that don’t. Smart companies realize there are costs to be saved, markets to be created, and revenues to be gained by advancing sustainability. They will profit and grow while other, less sustainably minded companies will decline and die. Through that basic market mechanism, with selective public policy encouragement, we can have a more sustainable world.
The Midwest Regional IDSA Conference was held in Saint Louis on April 1st through the 3rd and fredsparks played a role in making it educational and fun.
By: Seth Godin
We train kids to deal with teachers in a certain way: Find out what they want, and do that, just barely, because there are other things to work on. Figure out how to say back exactly what they want to hear, with the least amount of effort, and you are a ‘good student.’
We train employees to deal with bosses in a certain way: Find out what they want, and do that, just barely, because there are other things to do. Figure out how to do exactly what they want, with the least amount of effort, and the last risk of failure and you are a ‘good worker.’
Sometimes we even train we designers to deal with clients in a certain way; Find out what they want, and do that, just barely, because there are other things to do. Figure out how to do exactly what they want, with the least amount of effort, and the last risk of failure and you are a ‘good consultant’.
Please join us at our studio for The After Party on Saturday April 2, 2011 from 10 PM to 1 AM.
Vodka cocktails compliments of Purus.
Entertainment by DJ Super Conductor.
Shuttle transport provided 9:45PM to 1:15AM outside the Hyatt on 4th street. Good times created by you.
Student design competition cosponsored by Purus and fredsparks. Design the ideal Purus glass. $500 prize! Winning design will be produced and offered as part of the Purus holiday gift set. Check details at The After Party.
It better represents who we are, how we work, the impact we have, and what you can expect from working with us.
At the heart of this new site and all our communication materials is a simple, clean, straightforward and impactful presence . . . just like our work. It clearly demonstrates the three clear contributions we make to our clients; strategy, innovation and sustainability.