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What’s going on

What’s going on

The latest news and products from FLEX.

19 Sep 2017

Kick-start for First Breath

Recently the aai.care team started a Kickstarter campaign for their indoor air quality monitor First Breath. They aim to reach their € 50.000,- goal that is needed to produce and market their product. We translated their initial ideas into friendly, practical, yet sophisticated design. The monitor and its connecting app inform parents about the indoor air quality, enabling them to create a healthy environment for their loved ones at any time. First Breath was nominated for a Kind + Jugend Innovation Award 2017.

The babies’ lungs are susceptible to air pollution. A healthy indoor air environment is essential to their growth and development. First Breath is an indoor air quality monitor that scans the air and displays what the baby is breathing. Sometimes parents are not even aware of the harm they’re causing with cleaning products, cooking or poor ventilation. First Breath instantly shows the type of pollution, alarming the parents to take necessary action. The matching app educates the parents about pollution and coaches them to improve conditions in the baby’s room.

Our challenge was to create contemporary design for a high-tech product, that shouldn’t look technical at all and fit seamlessly in any baby room. We choose an iconic house-shape design that refers to ‘indoors.’ The monitor’s lighting ring quickly shows when a pollutant reaches its threshold level by changing colors.  The wooden base ensures a warm, friendly appearance.  We also designed the user interface of the First Breath app, which connects the monitor with the baby’s parents. In close collaboration with our client, we worked from prototype to prototype (made by FLEX/prototyping) to optimize the product. The team proudly presents the result at the Kind + Jugend fair 2017 in Cologne, Germany from September 20th – 23rd 2017, where it has been nominated for an innovation award.

Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. It helps creators find the resources and support they need to bring their ideas to life. Over 10 million people from all over the world already backed a Kickstarter project.

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Contact Mark if you’d like to know more about our design solutions for high-tech products

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04 Dec 2017

Innovative Verstegen spices concept at retailer Albert Heijn

For Verstegen, we recently installed prototypes of a new self-service concept in the fresh produce aisle of two Albert Heijn supermarkets. Consumers can scoop herbs and spices themselves, choosing from 20 surprising mélanges. The lovely scents and beautiful colors create a compelling experience. Recipe cards for each mélange inspire consumers to create delicious meals. We helped Verstegen during the entire process from visualizing the first ideas to the realization of two fully functional wall-mounted units.

Dutch spices and herbs specialist Verstegen intended to launch a self-service concept for fresh produce aisles at retailers. In close collaboration with their team, we designed a modular system that suits different retail environments. Key was creating a unique consumer experience. For an authentic look and feel, we selected ‘woods and blacks.’ The system holds 20 containers with unique mixes of herbs & spices. Consumers’ senses get aroused by viewing 20 different color variations and experiencing the delicious scents when opening the transparent covers, scooping the blend of their choice. The cards with recipes complete their inspiration.

We enjoyed being part of the fast-paced design process. In close collaboration with Verstegen (and Albert Heijn), we developed the two prototypes. We visualized Verstegen’s first ideas, ensured that they were ‘retail proof,’ and designed the modular system. The experts of FLEX/prototyping made the prototypes, and together we installed them in the stores. Lead time: just four months.

Visit the Albert Heijn stores in Maastricht or Delft and try it yourself.

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Contact Robin for information about this exciting retail project

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24 Nov 2017

User Centered Design for acceptable sanitation all over the world

Our Creative Director Ronald Lewerissa joined the three-day ‘User-Centered Design for WaSH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene)’ convening at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle. The participants came from every corner of the globe and had the opportunity to share their experiences and learn from each other’s methodologies.

Inadequate and unhygienic sanitation is a problem in many parts of the world. Many attempts to improve sanitation in areas without sewage fail. Not because of a lack of funding or inferior technology. They fail because the solutions don’t apply in the local context. For instance, open defecation is a problem, and the quality level of service and maintenance of toilets often results in severe hygiene issues. As this is related to human behavior, the workshop’s focus was to find better ways to develop solutions that lead to preferred behavior. We met with NGO’s, funding organizations and of course other designers and solution providers. The subject of the presentations and demonstrations was how to apply User-Centered Design in the development of better sanitation solutions.

Exciting insights came from iDE global. They demonstrated the effectiveness of proper research before actually starting to develop solutions. It offers a basis for real change:

When we told people that we planned to sell latrines, water filters, and handwashing devices to poor customers rather than just give them away, they didn’t believe it would work. But we’ve proven that it does work and that it works better than charity, because when people invest their own money, they’re more likely to embrace the change necessary to improve their lives.

Another example was presented by Joseph Kittingji from Sanergy in Kenia, which shows that preparation for User-Centered Design research is essential. There are the local practical issues like culture, habits, and language that you need to become familiar with. Another problem is the hierarchy between men and women that can make it difficult to have genuine conversations with the female part of the population.  He successfully implemented a new solution and overcame matters dealing with gender-specific needs, the lack of space in urban areas and the cost of maintenance.

Parmita Dalal from IDEO.org allowed us to take a look at the methodology IDEO is using. She talked about how they do their research and how co-creation with various types of stakeholders takes place at IDEO.

Ronald demonstrated our Design Game as a compelling and accessible method to involve various stakeholders (NGO’s, users, local entrepreneurs). We received very positive feedback because it turns out to be a great tool to analyze/research local situations and uncover the specific needs of users. It also involves the stakeholders in the development of ideas for solutions.

Additionally, we talked about the necessity of prototyping in every phase of development and that it should be considered a constant activity throughout the entire process. The eSOS system that we developed with UNESCO IHE is an example how prototypes represent the solution and how they change in the different phases of the development from a scale model to working experiments and more finalized solution. Each prototype can be used to get specific feedback from various user groups.

Focusing on the behavioral change, in many of the sessions a wide variety of ideas and methods were discussed. Inevitably some of the insights from the book Switch from Chip and Dan Heath were discussed, and we tried to apply them to sanitation as ultimately the objective is to make a lasting change in how people behave relating to sanitation.

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Contact Ronald  to learn more

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20 Nov 2017

Kverneland introduces new trailed sprayer at Agritechnica

At the Agritechnica 2017, the Kverneland Group launches their new trailed sprayer. We designed the Kverneland iXtrack T3 around the needs of the farmer. The machine combines high tech electronics with a compact design and a dynamic appearance. Our challenge was to align the design with the existing Kverneland sprayers and to ensure a more integrated look of the main body parts. You can check out the new sprayer at world’s number one fair for farming from November 12-18 in Hannover, Germany.

We designed this new piece of farming equipment, in close collaboration with Kverneland’s development department. We focused on the sprayer’s dynamic appearance and perceived quality, perfectly integrating its technical parts and systems in the design. During the design process, we continually thought about a logical modular build-up of all components like different tank sizes, platform, doors, etc. while keeping the user ergonomics all ways in mind. A consistent use of design elements in the sprayer portfolio guarantees a strong brand identity making the recognizable Kverneland machines stand out in the fields.

For seven days the Agritechnica 2017 will present innovations in farming. The iXtrack T3 is presented on the Kverneland Group stand D37 in HALL 5.

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Need our help in building a strong 3D brand identity for your products? Contact Jacco

 

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03 Nov 2017

Seepje for bright and shiny dishes

Since 2014 entrepreneurs Melvin and Jasper successfully market their Seepje detergents for cleaning your home and laundry. The basis for these detergents are the peels of the Sapindus Mukorossi fruits from Nepal, which contain a natural kind of soap, that is released when exposed to water. They offer cleaning power and softness, without harmful chemicals. We created the sustainable packaging design, which will also be the shell for Seepje’s new challenge: detergents to clean your dishes. To accomplish this mission, they started a crowdfunding campaign at Oneplanetcrowd. Help them reach their goal and make our world a little better.

The laundry enthusiasts started fair-trade brand Seepje by marketing these Nepalese peels. Beginning of this year, they introduced a range of liquid laundry detergents and cleaners. Nepalese farmers pulverize the peels, which are turned into a liquid extract once they arrive in the Netherlands. The Dutch company adds only a few other ingredients for more cleaning power and a delicious scent. We created a sustainable packaging solution that stands out on the shelf and helped them successfully scale up.

We came up with the iconic shape of soap, of course, a wink to clean. This particular form ensures a secure grip for the user and reduces material use compared to regular detergent handles. The design, pastel colors and the soft touch all refer to softness. As you can read on the bottom of the bottle, they’re made out of recycled plastic milk bottles. For the new detergents in Seepje’s portfolio, we decided to use the same soap shape to build brand equity, with only minimal changes to bottles neck, size and detailing.

Seepje is collaborating with farmers in Nepal, who take care of harvesting and processing these peelings in a socially responsible way. In 2016, Seepje products regenerated an income for 60 Nepalese families. Help Seepje to ‘wash our world cleaner and more beautiful’ by investing in their campaign.

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Help Seepje reach their funding goal and make our world a little better.

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30 Oct 2017

Structural packaging for Ultimaker’s 3D-print accessories

With their 3D-printers moving more and more to a corporate environment, printer manufacturer Ultimaker needed professional packaging for their filament and spare parts. We created clever packaging that stands out, facilitates easy handling at their warehouse, is mailbox-proof for online sales and offers Ultimaker flexibility in this rapidly developing market.

Next to Ultimaker’s community of 3D-printing enthusiasts, lots of companies use their 3D-printers today. Ultimaker launched their range of filaments on branded spools (also our design), formulated to ensure the highest print quality and encourage repeat orders. They asked us for a smart packaging solution for their filament range and spare parts, like print cores and nozzles. Applied with Oak & Morrow’s brand design, we created a packaging design that helps them get their accessories to their users in the most efficient way.

For the many different printing materials in a wide range of colors, we developed two universal and straightforward foldable carton boxes for two spool sizes. It offers them quite some efficiency in logistics. The plain black-and-white packaging with premium appearance has a cutout with a neutral colored picture of a 3D-print detail, with which the packaging’s inside is fully covered. This brings the obvious advantage that any color of filament fits in. The sticker on the side reveals the inside’s details: a barcode, color, and type of printing material. Through the window at the side, you can see the filament’s color in the blink of an eye. Once the order comes in, handling is easy. New materials and colors will fit in the same packaging, which is essential in this rapidly changing market. For the spare parts, we developed a specific packaging, with specifics printed on the outside of the little box. Users, unpacking their product, are treated to a fresh, and vibrant color explosion on packaging’s inside. The box is mailbox-proof, which is vital to their online sales.

We value a long-term relationship with our clients. Together with these latest designs, we’re proud to say we created the structural packaging design for all of Ultimaker’s products. In close collaboration with their team, we developed packaging for their 3D-printers, all service packs, and accessories.

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Contact Abke for our smart packaging solutions

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25 Oct 2017

Product and user interface design for lab workers

For Advanced Instruments, we created the ANOXOMAT III. A piece of equipment that generates anaerobic environments for use in clinical, industrial, pharmaceutical and biotechnical laboratories. It was designed to fit the working conditions in the lab perfectly.

The new generation of products is based on more advanced components. These new parts were the starting point for our design work. One of our insights was that in laboratory environments there is often a lack of countertop space. So we explored a variety of component layouts to save space, maintain a simple construction and assure vertical assembly. In laboratories productivity and efficiency are very important. We took a human-centered approach to optimize the position of controls, the legibility of the information on the screen and the convenience of connecting and disconnecting the hoses.

We also re-designed the user interface entirely. Together with all stakeholders, we created personas and use cases. In our research, we learned that 99% of the users only use a limited set of options. Based on this insight we developed several concepts for an improved user experience. We built click-through prototypes and tested them with actual users in their lab. Their feedback was used to optimize usability further. On top of the wireframes, we created a graphical design that aligns with the product design and the brand.

The Anoxomat III sets the standard in the market regarding quality, accuracy, and durability. It was our job to express this in the look & feel of the product. It’s high proportions convey a sense of pride and ensures that it stands out on the countertop of every lab. The precision with which each component has been made and the way they connect to each other are all part of the quality perception. Additionally, the choice of white and light grey colors add to the hygienic look of the lab environment.

We felt it was essential to take the opportunity to improve some crucial details. For instance, the metal connectors that attach the hoses to the device and the jars could use some extra attention. We made the connectors more pleasant to touch and a lot easier to press into the narrow available space of the jar. Lab workers confirmed that these were the type of details that mattered.

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Send Ronald an email to learn more about this project

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23 Oct 2017

Creative Director Mark Assies speaker at Dutch Design Week

Wednesday, October 25 our Creative Director Mark will be one of the speakers at DRIVE, the annual Design Research & Innovation Festival at the Dutch Design Week (DDW). He will talk about our Ultimaker 2 Go packaging concept as an inspiring example of a personalized product.

‘Human Touch’ is one of the blocks of this year’s festival, moving from global to local. What makes people happy in our globalizing world? Personalized products can be an answer to this question. Our customizable packaging for the Ultimaker 2 Go 3D-printer is an inspiring example of a product that owner can make their own. The maker community is challenged to create a personalized case by clicking on their 3D-printed parts and share their results with other makers online. Mark will tell about the design process and choices being made to create this packaging solution for makers on the go. Get inspired: check the Ultimaker 2 Go case and join in on October 25 at 13:30 at Natlab, Eindhoven.

CLICKNL organizes DRIVE. CLICKNL is a creative industry knowledge and innovation network that aims to increase the impact of design. It is the fourth time that the Design Research & Innovation festival is part of the Dutch Design Week (DDW) in Eindhoven from October 21 – 29, 2017.

Learn all about this inspiring case and sign up for this event

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03 Oct 2017

Introducing three talented interns

We enjoy having three new interns at our studio for this semester. It’s again an international mix of talented design students that share our enthusiasm and passion for design. All from a different background, they share that design is not a goal, but a tool to create value for consumers.

For Spanish Angeles, her internship at our design consultancy is part of her final master’s degree year Integrated Product Design at TU Delft. What amazes her about being a designer is that we need to become experts every time we start a new project. She’s curious by nature and feels triggered by people, understanding their needs to create meaningful products. Surrounded by nice and helpful colleagues, she’s convinced that her internship with us will help her to develop as a designer.

21-year-old Pavel is studying Industrial Design Engineering at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. With a fascination for Belgian beers, movies, traveling, and design, he hopes that someday he’ll bring something into this world that will leave a positive mark on it. He is convinced that high quality and reliability is the key to users’ satisfaction. His choice for our consultancy was easy according to Pavel: 25 years of experience in developing great products for multinationals and start-ups.

Andreas is a third-year student Industrial Product Design at HAN University of Applied Sciences. Design for him is about creating new experiences. He gets inspired by everything around him; by people, by nature, by art. From the start of his internship, he has been involved in multiple design projects for different clients. He likes being treated as a young designer rather than an intern, learning a lot every day, inspired by his colleagues.

During their six months internship, they get the chance to work in an inspiring and professional environment and learn about various aspects of the design process. Good luck to you all!

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Also interested in an internship? contact Iris or check our job page.

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26 Sep 2017

Life is like a box of boxers

The right pair of undies can make your day! That’s why the five young entrepreneurs of A-dam underwear produce handmade, premium quality underwear with perfect fits and made of certified organic cotton only. We love their great sense of humor and enjoyed creating new packaging that’s full of smart solutions and perfectly reflects their brand.

The large window in the white box displays the boxer’s design. The eye-catching red tab invites consumers to slide the carton tray out to check fabric, waistband, and size and close again without damaging it. When taking out your new pair of undies, you’re in for a graphic surprise! Moreover, the small round window at the back reveals the boxers USP’s one by one. The rotating metal hook on top not only helps to create a premium look & feel but has a significant impact on logistic efficiency. On top of it all, we realized a cost-price reduction in comparison to their old packaging solution.

Our designers Abke and Marcel met the A-dam guys at the Packaging Innovations fair in November 2016. Quickly afterward we brainstormed about new packaging concepts that should solve the issues they encountered with the existing one. In close collaboration with their team, we tackled its challenges in transport, stock, and logistics. In just six months we created a new structural packaging design for A-dam Underwear.

A-dam underwear was founded in 2014 and is a boxer brand that does things differently. They use certified organic cotton only. The products are made by hand by people with fair wages and regular working hours. The products are available in more than 100 shops in 6 countries and in their own webshop, which is worth checking out for its design.

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Contact Abke to learn more about this project

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25 Sep 2017

Silver Pentaward for Seepje

We’re proud that the international Pentaward jury awarded the packaging for Seepje with a Silver Pentaward 2017 in the category Other Markets – Household maintenance. The 11th official Pentawards ceremony took place on Saturday 23rd at the prestigious W Hotel in Barcelona, Spain. We developed the new packaging for the wonderful young laundry enthusiasts of fairtrade brand Seepje.

We designed sustainable packaging for Seepje’s new range of liquid laundry detergents. The key ingredient of these detergents is an extract of the peels of the Sapindus Mukurossi fruits from Nepal. These peelings contain a natural kind of soap, which is released when exposed to water. Generous Minds helped Seepje with its strategy and asked us to develop an iconic bottle that would help Seepje to scale up for retailers like Albert Heijn. We came up with the iconic shape of a soap block, of course, a wink to clean. It ensures a secure grip for users and reduces the use of material compared to regular detergent handles. The soap block shape, pastel colors and soft touch refer to softness. At the bottom of the bottle, you can read that they are made out of recycled plastic milk bottles. The labels consist of waste products of sugar cane production and are easily detachable, to help consumers separate waste. Seepje is collaborating with farmers in Nepal, who take care of harvesting and processing these peelings in a socially responsible way.  Seepje aims to ‘wash the world cleaner and more beautiful.’ Earlier this year the Seepje packaging won a NL Packaging Award 2017.

The Pentawards is recognized as the most prestigious worldwide competition exclusively devoted to packaging design. For this 11th edition, they received more than 2000 entries from five continents and 54 countries. The jury selected the winners based on the creative quality and the marketing relevance of the works presented.

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Ask Ronald all about this packaging solution

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