We live in an interconnected world where even design processes are now connected.
Modern communication tools today make it possible to design objects anywhere on the planet with far less consumption of resources, with less testing and a far quicker time to market. In the electronic market, where the life cycle of a product is already extremely short, the ability to see six months ahead provides an incredible advantage.
There is no longer any real need for most of the clients and the supplier involved in the production of these designs to ever meet each other face to face because modern design tools can do everything via communication technology: all shared, all connected, all real-time.
During the last five years I designed lots of objects, mostly connected shit as I love to call it. Some of them have been sold in Apple Stores or by major chains, others never managed to leave the prototype stage. But all of them, in one way or another, reveal some form of innovation, either in their function or form.
I sometimes take a look at the geography involved in these products: Indian client based n Silicon Valley, PCB Design from India, production in Vietnam, Plastic and assembly in China, distribution from Hong Kong, and Design from Italy. It’s clear that it’s not always necessary to have a substantial infrastructure in order to develop products and anyone can find a space in the chain regardless of geography or economical considerations. And by the way, I challenge everyone to tell me where the product is ‘made in’, are we still there?
Most of my clients, wonderful human beings with great ideas and unlimited enthusiasm have never seen me in person (just skype or FaceTime calls), and most of all they never asked me “where are you based?”. I don’t get the question because I don’t have an answer: I’m in Italy, in England, in Cyprus, in Turkey, in South China… the real answer is: “Does it matter?”
The people that I work with are asking “What’s your time zone?”, which is perfectly okay in a connected environment where everything that matters is quick and proper communication. So yes, I am usually between GMT +0 and +2 and this is all we need to know. Oh by the way I’m writing this article from an airport… let me check the time zone here.
Connected tools like OnShape, the cloud-based 3D Cad system where everyone can verify, comment and make modifications on the same file in real-time; management tools like Trello and Slack are speeding up the process. No email involved, no unproductive phone calls, no drafting, barely any communication with the suppliers a mind-blowing time-to-market from brief to the production of a few weeks.
And if you think such a quick process is polluting or scarcely creative check our latest products. Most of them have been trend-setting in their field or they have a strong degree of innovation. Sometimes being quicker and running before the group has its advantages, especially in the electronic world. Sorry I need to go now…