SolidWorks World: Day 2

Tuesday Morning General Session
Richard Seymour and Dick Powel delivered a fantastic keynote this morning on how to harness creative energy to design products for the future. The London duo were hosts on the popular British television show “Better by Design” that focused on making everyday designs, such as a toilet or a toaster, more functional.

Design is a three stage process, they said, that includes idea, belief, and embodiment. An example of an idea is a tea kettle that you don’t have to unplug to fill or pour. Epiphanies happen when you don’t think in a linear way.

Oftentimes engineers design products that makes sense from a manufacturing standpoint. Take for example, a bag of frozen peas. Easy to manufacture, but how does a user store an opened bag of peas in the freezer without spilling them everywhere?

Artists think in an intuitive, nonlinear way. Engineering design is somewhere between art and engineering, intuition and logic.

You need to step back to gain a new perspective on a design. “Why do I have to fill my iron with water through a hole the size of a postage stamp?” asked Seymour. “And why is the iron always tipping over?” The two designers worked with one client to successfully design an iron that you fill through the back and that has an extra wide back heel so to keep it steady. A reasonable design idea, but why had no one done it before?

Other examples of new designs (and this is where the British humor comes in) included a bra for very large women and a self-cleaning toilet with no rim, a large target area, and an anti-bacterial glaze. You have to close the toilet for it to flush, making it a preferable device for women who like to see the lid left down. The duo also discussed their model of a motorbike that runs on hydrogen.

Some people are more creative than others and it’s best for companies to put the genesis of thinking in a small group of people who behave as individuals. Great ideas are fragile, and there is plenty out there inspiring to kill a good ideas, so it’s important not to lose track of the goal when going from idea to embodiment.

The vast majority of people are like you, said the two Brits, so if you don’t like or believe in an idea, chances are neither will the people buying it, so trust your intuition.

Off-site at the Los Vegas Speedway
How to you move 3,500 conference attendees from Caesar’s Palace to the Los Vegas Speedway? The answer: 60 tour buses. SolidWorks basically rented out the entire Las Vegas Speedway for its Tuesday evening off-site event. The bus ride over was about 20 minutes and we were dropped off in the center of the speedway, surrounded by racetrack, where plenty of drinks and food awaited. On the menu: hotdogs and hamburgers, and grilled chicken fajitas. I was amazed at the logistics of the event. How did SolidWorks manage to pull everything off so smoothly?

Attendees had an opportunity to take a ride around the track or race go-carts. An arcade full of games and pool tables brought added entertainment, but one of the biggest attractions was a booth where three people would sit in front of a video camera covered in green frocks. Their heads would then appear on a little video with cartoon bodies singing and dancing. It was hilarious.

Amy Castor

Matthew West

SolidWorks alumnus. I like plate reverb, Rat pedals, Thai curry, New Weird fiction, my kids, Vespas, Jazzmasters, my wife & Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not necessarily in that order.