5 questions for the expert

Berker Diker, Industrial Designer at Attention, shares his expert knowledge on this month’s topic: Designing for Europe. 

1. Can you explain the European consumers’ idea of “good design” in 3 words?

“It is indeed very hard to summarize the entire European market in three words, since there is a vast difference between habits and tastes of the people in various European countries. But if I had to summarize what I personally aim for with our projects, then it would be 1) sensible, 2) human-centered and 3) contemporary solutions, as well as how those words apply to the individual product and how the market usually manifests itself during our design process.”

2. Can you give 1 example of a design project you worked with where the target group was the European market?

“One that pops into my mind is our award-winning VP-600 vacuum cleaner for Nilfisk (see case here). Even though the target market was by no means limited to Europe, it was extremely interesting to hear how our focus groups in the different European markets (France, Netherlands, etc.) reacted to our design alternatives in completely opposite ways. This was very difficult to foresee because the way we perceive something new is formed by our past experiences and our surroundings, and sometimes it is just not possible to find the right answer without testing it directly with future users.”

3. How do you find out what the target group wants?

“We can do plenty of trend spotting, looking at the market movements, sales figures, etc. – but in order to get to the core of what target group actually wants, there’s only one way, and that is to involve them in the process. For that reason, we at Attention follow a distinct design process in order to get the best understanding of the users and the market.“

4. Can you describe the design process?

“There are usually three distinct phases where we get input:

  • The first one is before the idea generation, and that is when we gather user insights with various methods embedded in our process. This is extremely beneficial, because since we don’t have any ideas in place at this initial stage, we are as close to being unbiased as possible. In that way, we can be more objective when we’re spotting problems or opportunities.
  • The second step is after we brainstorm concepts. We believe in fast iterations of prototyping and testing, no matter in which scale we do it. The purpose of this is to get feedback as quick as possible and let the bad ideas fail early, so that the good ones expose themselves.
  • The last step is of course the market feedback. Most of the products in the market are a part of a product family generation, and are not just come-and-go ideas. So finally, we gather the feedback and learn from the previous generation when we’re designing the next.”

5. How would you explain the European working culture to someone considering working in this culture?

“European working cultures vary immensely, but I think Scandinavia – and Denmark in particular – has a working culture that values flat hierarchy. Here, we tend to value a culture where each member of the team has a voice, and where team work and the sharing of knowledge is a core part of the business culture. In in my opinion, this creates an atmosphere where the ideas are the main focus in the everyday work life and not so much who came up with them or how. I believe this is a nice fit to creative agencies, as new ideas are evaluated by their merit, and in the end, it facilitates an efficient and direct way to reach good and innovative solutions.”

 

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