kbb Birmingham 2020: ‘Having a 3D printer has completely revolutionised the way we work’, says Sensio

Exhibitor interview with product designer: Robert Drybala, product designer for Sensio Lighting 


Q: Where do you get your inspiration for new products?

A: It comes from many sources, including exhibition visits, customer requests or issues and quite often from discussions with fitters. We monitor KBB and electrical market trends and competitor activity and keep a close eye on technology trends in different markets. Some new ideas also come out of our development and testing process – we may be developing one product, when it sparks an idea for something quite different.


Q: What are the main considerations in the design process?

A: We have developed our own process. First and foremost, it’s the creation of a business case at the start of the project to identify whether a new product is viable or not.

After this, the most critical consideration is ensuring that we work with customers throughout the project so they can have their input.

There’s no point creating a product that the market doesn’t need or want, or creating something that isn’t cost-effective, so we monitor and review this throughout the process.

And finally, to make sure that we adhere to our core value of ‘Keeping Lighting Simple’ – ensuring that as a business we’re creating simple-to- manufacture, simple-to-install and simple-to-use lighting solutions.


Q: At what stage do you consider balancing creativity with com–mercial needs?

A: You can’t have one without the other, so it’s important that we adhere to our design process – creating a viable business case for the product in the first instance, but not feeling constrained or making compromises with what we are trying to achieve. Having close working relationships with our customers and suppliers allows us to find solutions and work round any potential issues so that we always realise our ambition.


Q: Is sustainability becoming more of a consideration?

A: I think sustainable design is incredibly important, as we have never been more aware of the negative impact we are having on the planet.

Whether consumers are really bothered about eco-friendly products or not, I believe all companies have the moral responsibility to try to reduce their impact wherever possible – and at Sensio it’s certainly high on our agenda.


Q: How is technology changing the way you work?

A: 3D printing has completely revolutionised the way we work. Having a desktop 3D printer in our office enables us to rapidly speed up the development process and we would be lost without it. It is one of our most essential design tools.

We can model designs and make tweaks and changes before we even get to the point of manufacturing prototypes.

This saves us a huge amount of time and cost in the long run.


Q: What design from the Sensio portfolio are you most proud of?

A: The Accent Profile (pictured) that will be launched at the kbb Show next month has to be the one I am most excited about, due to the attention that it received during our voice of the customer (VOC) presentations. This profile – which encases a flexible strip light – showcases an innovate method of illuminating corners around worktop edges which has never been seen before in the market.


Q: How would you rate the general level of design in the KBB industry?

A: The general level of design in the kitchen and bathroom industries is good, but is weighted towards more aesthetic products. The level of technology in lighting is slowly increasing as more products become available, but we are most excited for ‘smart’ products that can integrate into any home. Smart technology has been available for some time, but it has been very platform-dependent and also highly priced. Our focus moving forward is a fully connective strategy at an affordable price.


Q: Would you say that we’re currently going through an exciting period for design or have we perhaps reached the peak of creativity in the KBB industry?

A: Good design is an ever-changing trend and there are no limits to what designers can create in the modern age. More customisation is a key feature that would benefit everyone in the KBB industry by offering more choice and relevant features.


Q: What is ‘good’ design?

A: Good design is all in the fine detail. From initial conception, to product use and its efficiency, to the breaking down and recycling of components. Every detail of a product has to be considered. Ensuring that at each stage of a product’s lifespan it offers con–venience, simplicity and, above all else, an experience unlike any other. That to me, is the definition of ‘good’ product design.


Q: Should you be able to get ‘good design’ on any budget?

A: Yes. ‘Good design’ should be available at all price points and no product should be created without considering this. A price point should be determined at the initial business case. Technology and materials will make certain products more expensive, but that doesn’t prohibit good design.

It’s about creating a product fit for the market you are targeting, which is why our range comprises a ‘good, better, best’ strategy.

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