Join Stuart Harvey Lee for an in-depth discussion in this video Prime Studio Product Design - Film, part of Prime Studio Product Design.
(playful music) Prime Studio, as we call ourselves, are product plus brand design consultancy. And what that means is that we do both of those things for our clients. We obviously create products for them, that's what we're known for the most. But we also work with developing brands through the lens of physical product. We very much strive to partner with the clients and work with them to understand what it is that they're looking to do, and what they're trying to create.
And then we think about developing products and packaging for that, to fit with that DNA. We don't have a house style. We design to the needs of the brand. (playful music) One of the things that led us into the field of brand design is that I spent many years working with some of the larger corporations.
When I find that what happened is that as a design firm, you often end up being the conduit between like the marketing department, the engineering department, perhaps the eventual manufacturer. So you develop a skill set which allows you to think holistically about the product, and that's the same type of thinking which I think you need when you're creating brands from scratch. (playful music) One of the great things is that, you know, we're here right in the heart of New York.
You get so much just download of new things from just walking around on the streets in New York. That's one of the reasons I love it here. But we also have a very kind of multicultural team. So we all kind of bounce off one another a little bit. I think that that's important. As I design, I go, constantly keeping your eyes open, really, for, for new things and new trends. (suave music) - I always knew I wanted to do something creative.
But I started in architecture, and I found out about industrial design in London and have been doing it ever since. - I actually went to school for architecture, and I realized that that was not for me. But luckily, there was an industrial design program, I just changed majors, it was perfect. (suave music) - Currently what I'm working on is some designs for a cutlery set.
We do everything from, you know, the block to all the different sizes of the knife handles, as well as different blades that go along with, with the handles. - So right now, we are putting together a prototype for a knife block. And we have a couple different directions.
This is the first prototype we're putting together, and this is really good to help us understand dimensions, and how something's gonna sit on a counter top, if it's too big, if it's too clunky. And, yeah, it's something we can do really quickly and, and get like really good feedback. (playful music) - We work with a variety of software.
But we are still also kinda old school, you know, like we do a lot of pencil sketching, and it's nice to get everyone around the table and kind of do some thumbnail sketching. - We don't like bringing in CAD too early in the design process, because it really can like break you down, like getting hung up on little details, which don't really matter to the overall idea which you want to bring across.
- Typically, we bring it into photoshop and render up a, you know, all our different concepts that we've selected, because a lot of times what we found is that when we show them like a super hot rendering, it's almost too final. So a lot of times our clients are kinda hesitant or afraid to comment on, on the different concepts.
- When I started Prime Studio, one of the things that I was really interested in is that we worked on a wide variety of products. Every project we do is different, and as I said, what we like to do is like sit down and really work with the clients to figure out what their needs are. The needs of a corporation like Unilever are very different to the needs of a startup company. We were the company that was responsible for the Axe detailer. We launched Howie's razors.
And we've also developed brands from scratch, like Squish. (energetic music) Squish is a line of collapsable housewares products that we designed for our long-term client, Robinson Home Products, in Buffalo. They came to us with a very simple brief, which was that they wanted to design some products to get into the collapsable kitchen (unintelligible.) They wanted us to basically develop a brand from scratch. (upbeat music) The products that we came up with for them are very fun, they're very colorful.
They have a great amount of utility in that when you don't use them, they basically collapse to nothing. And it's been a very successful line for them. (energetic music) Initially, what we took a look at was current product already in the market, purely from an aesthetic point of view. It's really to bring us up to speed with what everyone else is doing, and familiarize ourselves with this type of product. But again, we're also always looking for like, is there a certain area of opportunity where people are not currently playing? - [Juan] I, I actually think this one's really comfortable.
- Because you think it never goes forward, but like sometimes when you really get in there, you can kinda go over. - With your thumb, right. - So that you don't, you know, you don't slip over. - Yeah, and I think that having this cut here could actually like play into like having this nice thumb kinda grove. - So finally, after we've lived with these things for a while, and tested them at home, what we did was we captured what we thought was some of the real positive benefits of some of these products.
These are really just there for us to discuss with the client, and ultimately, that led into a kind of like a featured list, a feature want list, that we created for each individual product. (cheerful music) The culmination of all this research was that we presented to the client four different mood boards or images for what we thought were possible directions for this new brand and this new line. That information is what we used from then when we went ahead and created our initial design concept.
Also at this first presentation with the client, we also started to explore names for the brand. Ironically, the one that we ended up going with was Squish. I say ironically because every project we give a little nickname in the project, and we knew that this project was gonna be about collapsable products, so I called it project squish. So even though we presented a nice range of names with the reasoning behind each one to the client, everyone gravitated towards Squish straightaway.
What we next did was present the logo options to them. When we're developing these logos, what we're trying to do is give a little bit of a nod to the function of the product and how it works, so for example, here on the logo we have the, the circles going to the oval, which is actually a reference to the shape of the products, but gives the idea that the product itself is collapsing a little bit. Here you can see that we have basically, we're squishing in from side to side. And then this is a little bit of a more literal reference to the fold lines in the product itself.
And this is how the logo actually ended up in actual usage. We also came up with this tag line, cook, squish, store, which I think like really epitomizes what the difference between these products are. So after we got the direction from the client on what type of look and feel they were looking for the line, we come back to the office and we do our initial sketch explanation. These are just purely for those internally. They're never shared with the client, but it's for the designers here to collaborate, put sketches up on the wall.
We all discuss them and try to get a feel for what's the right concepts that we wanna move forward with. (cheerful music) We actually really make life hard for ourselves in the beginning, because we know if we can come up with a design language that works, on very disparate products, then obviously, it'll translate to things which are closer in. Initially with Squish, I think we launched eight or nine products, but now we're up to perhaps 45 or 50.
So it's really important that the design language we come up with at these early stages is flexible enough to translate to all those different types of products. (playful music) - Once we have an idea, which direction we wanna take, we take this into the CAD model, and then what makes it fun is like the reality check in one sense, that, you know, it has to work in three dimensions. But still, like, very much part of the design process, it's not just executional.
There's still a lot of correcting and adjusting and fine-tuning that's happening as you work on the CAD model. - So, we've got the tongs prototype, haven't we? - Which, uh... - Oh, wow. - Oh, wow. - I have to say it's pretty amazing. - That's a fun prototype. - Yeah. - Very often the vendor who is actually doing the touring for us and the production is also handling the prototyping, often, and you get feedback from the factory about design for manufacturing.
Squish is, for example, there was like quite a bit of back and forth about the right stiffness for the material for it to work well, and had to be like changed around, just for the manufacturing process. Often people would think, like, it's all kind of scientifically figured out, but very often it just comes down to just giving it good case and trying it out. But that's really like just a few times back and forth until, like, we're all in agreement, and the factory can continue into the tooling.
(cheerful music) - Once we had the product design, the next thing was to come up with the packaging. One of the things you'll notice about Squish products is in reality, they are all different sizes and all different shapes. And what that means is that we have to think about each product individually, but also as a whole, so when you look at all the lineup, all the packaging has to look the same, but yet each one has to be designed completely separately, because it's gonna hang on the shelf differently, and it has completely different shapes and parameters.
(suave music) - There's maybe a misconception in design that sometimes there's the right answer. And I think that there's not only one solution to any design problem. I mean, I think as designers, your job is to think about those solutions objectively.
We're constantly evolving the way that we work. We obviously, software is obviously evolving. It's just a question of keeping our eyes and ears open, I mean, we're all active in the design community, so there's, uh... There's a lot of learning goes on just through word of mouth. We're very real world people. We wanna work with the manufacturers to make sure that the designs that we come up with can be easily manufactured. Otherwise it's not a good design.