World Industrial Design Day 2017

5 questions to Andreas Schulze Industrial Design

VITRONIC has partnered with the industrial designer, Andreas Schulze, for many years. Initially located in VITRONIC's home city of Wiesbaden, he now works with his team in Limburg an der Lahn. The designer has been developing high-quality technical products since 1994—from boilers and spray painting systems to high performance line scan cameras. But even something as simple as one of his toothbrush designs embodies exceptional functionality paired with a certain aesthetic effect, because the relationship between the human and the product is the focus of Andreas Schulze's work.

In honor of World Industrial Design Day on June 29, 2017, VITRONIC asked the industrial designer five questions.

What's a typical day like for an industrial designer?

The great thing for me as a freelance industrial designer is that, in my opinion, there is no "typical day." I deal with different people, processes, and structures depending on the project and client. And depending on the project phase, we have days where we focus on analysis and idea development, and days where we work on the 3D design. Our approach, the tools we use, and our communication style is different for every project. Variety is the norm for us.

VIRO WSI: idea development and model construction
VIRO WSI: idea development and model construction

How can industrial design strengthen a brand?

VICAM 3S started as a Styrofoam model before it became a high-end line scan camera
VICAM 3S started as a Styrofoam model before it became a high-end line scan camera

It's true that a single, well designed product can uncover significant potential for a company and contribute to growth. However, industrial design as a process impacts a company on a variety of levels and therefore is often used strategically. For VITRONIC, we started with product design for the different business sectors early on, and from the very start we wanted to convey an authentic and recognizable VITRONIC brand.

Since then, VITRONIC has become a solid company with a strong brand, and the design, used in all of the company's business sectors, is an important factor in imparting a brand that gives a coherent impression.

How long does the design process take from idea conception to series production?

From white paper to project sketch - the Enforcement Trailer

The design process, from idea conception to series production, typically always follows the same process. However, our clients and projects are actually so different, that this isn't the case across the board.

We usually start with an analysis, which gives us the opportunity to define the framework conditions of the project and gain an initial understanding of the task at hand. For designers, understanding the perspective of the user is top priority. When the project team puts itself in the user's shoes, a lot of surprising discoveries are made.

The most important phase of our work is usually the one we call "design concept." It's a creative process during which we develop multiple iterations of ideas in collaboration with the client and then condense them into a suitable design concept. At the end of this process, we select a design concept that seems to have the best features.

In the design process that follows, various models are developed and concept details are worked out. Everything required for series production is defined this early in the game. We usually have a prototype that is very close to the final product by the end of the design process. This way the materials and production methods we want to use are settled by and large. The product color, 3D data, and product graphics are 90% set.

In the implementation phase, we work with our client and the selected suppliers to implement the design in series production to the greatest degree possible. For example, we are involved in color matching, product graphics application, and the gloss level of the surfaces, among other things.

Do you strive for functionality or shape and design? Or both?

For me, industrial design is the successful (appropriate) unification of shape and functionality. When I completed my studies in Essen in the 80s, we used the term "styling" as a negative way of saying that a product had an exaggerated design and insufficiently addressed functionality. At the same time, the "Memphis" movement was all about taking something with a rational design and giving it a fanciful, odd, or purposeless feel.

You have been working with VITRONIC for many years. What is your definition of good cooperation?

I can answer that in a few key words: trust, appreciation, and efficiency.

As industrial designers, we often present new and unusual ideas to our clients and that is why trust is so important for successful cooperation. This trust has grown steadily over the years and we feel VITRONIC has a certain appreciation for our work. At the same time, we can achieve a lot of great things based on the experience we've gathered and the trust we've developed, making it easy for us to respond with the necessary efficiency.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Schulze for the interesting conversation about the work of an industrial designer. We look forward to our next projects with him.