Industrial design firm example of Kor One bottle design work

Industrial
Design Company

RKS is an industrial design firm based in California that focuses on human-centered industrial design, product design, and innovation, with deep expertise in product development and engineering. We engage with clients at all product lifecycle stages, from strategy to ideation to design and development. We use our advanced psycho-aesthetic design-thinking methodology to solve complex industrial design problems. Among top industrial design firms, we are unique in our experience and expertise. Our cross-disciplinary designer, specialists, researchers, and engineers leverage their deep understanding of multiple industries and technologies to imagine and design creative and innovative product solutions.

Today, products compete on good industrial design and product design. We believe good product design resonates emotionally. Our design firm uses a unique human-centered design-thinking methodology created by RKS founder Ravi Sawhney. This methodology, called Psycho-Aesthetics (P/A), can be used to predict emotional resonance. Using this methodology, our industrial design firm has been challenged to re-design packaging in India and China for a multinational beverage corporation, reinvent the electric guitar design, and create mobile ventilators for the most extreme environments. Among industrial firms, we’re unlike any others in the diversity of our work, which allows us to cross-pollinate and create truly innovative designs.

Our Clients

Logos of Industrial Design Firm Clients

Human-Centered Industrial Design Firm

Human-centered industrial design and product design is a collaborative and cross-functional processes. We begin most industrial design engagements by understanding the customer and client through primary and secondary research. In most cases, we aren’t designing for ourselves. Therefore we have to develop deep empathy for our clients and their customers. Our advanced design-thinking framework, Psycho-Aesthetics, is a key tool that helps us understand users and consumers. We use it to understand how to create emotional connections between the user and the product. These emotional connections are what make a product unique and ultimately put a user on the hero’s journey to make a product successful over the long term. Over the decades, we’ve used this framework to design hundreds of products that enrich customers’ lives and propel companies forward.

Psycho-Aesthetics (P/A) Methodology

Over the decades spent developing and evolving P/A, it has continually progressed into a highly advanced design-thinking tool that allows designers to solution around the shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approaches to product design. Our P/A product design process has seven phases that begin with research. Within the initial research phase, we usually perform customer research, benchmarking, and word bank creation. In the next phase, we synthesize this research into competitive mapping, triggers and personas, and the Opportunity Zone. At this point in the process, we examine, identify, define, and forecast the needs that the product should address. Next, we identify and define the Key Attractors that engage particular target groups. For each target group, we focus on the “Moment of Truth.” Here, we narrow these attractors to those that attract and engage these groups and cause them to adopt the product and become a Hero evangelist. This design process leads to product design that is ready for execution.

Industrial Design Research

Industrial design is a consecutive and interactive process that begins with the research phase. Research provides a foundation for all later decisions in the design process. However, at times research is also revisited to understand why and how key features or design decisions drive emotional resonance. This research phase usually begins with customer research. Our research team works with our clients to understand who their consumers are and how they live their lives. We use primary research tools such as surveys and ethnography, as well as secondary sources such as internal client documentation. In addition to customer research, we also do market research through benchmarking. A product or service’s success is usually measured by its performance against its competitors. We create a landscape of potential competitors, how they position themselves, and what their key differentiators and attractors are in the marketplace. We use the P/A Word Bank to create a library of common descriptors for benchmarking that can be later used to 

develop a brand or product’s design, look, and feel. These research approaches are used to establish holistic and important understandings that are later synthesized into actionable consumer insights that drive design choices.

Research Synthesis

During the synthesis phase of the process, we transform our research into useful, actionable insights. Often this is when we create the P/A “War Room.” The War Room is an immersive environment that evokes higher levels of empathy and facilitates creative immersion sessions that combine the creative design team with other disciplines, from engineering to marketing to manufacturing and shipping. We begin with competitive mapping, where we translate our general understanding of the market to our P/A Map. At the same time, we translate our understanding of customers to personas and triggers. We then combine our competitive mapping with triggers and personas on the P/A Map, which gives us a qualitative understanding of the Opportunity Zone. The Opportunity Zone is where gaps in consumer emotions and desires are not met by current industry offerings and where improvements in the market can be made. With the opportunity zone mapped, our cross-functional team can now gain a visual understanding of where there is white space representing opportunity.

Key Attractors

Once we synthesize our research, we can create insights that will make their way into the product. By identifying repeating patterns of desire in the personas, we are able to define what is most important to each individual. We call these patterns of desire Key Attractors, and we can turn them into considerations to motivate the product design. These Key Attractors will motivate us to choose specific design features, touchpoints, haptics, and emotional responses that engage particular target groups. They will continue to provide guidance throughout the design process and can be evaluated against competitive offerings to ensure the creation of unique products and services that successfully differentiate in the market.

Industrial Design Firm

Industrial Design

Product execution is the transformational challenge of creation, design, and innovation from an idea and research into reality. In the execution phase of the process, our designers transform Key Attractors into tangible elements. The tangible elements have to come together into a product. Often elements of a new product pose unique technological, engineering, or design challenges. In those cases, we sometimes have to invent new technology or use existing technologies or materials in new ways. We overcome these challenges by focusing on those issues first. Once solved, these issues provide the foundation to design and engineer the rest of the product.

Engineering and Testing

Our design engineering teams have years of experience in engineering concept designs. With the help of 3D modeling software (CAD – Computer-Aided Design), we develop computerized 3D models of the product. These 3D models will help us identify any problematic areas where the theoretical stresses and strains on the product to be developed will be exposed. They also allow us to focus on individual components that may require special focus. At the same time, they are engineering a product; engineers are also testing the product. Advanced software can expose components to stressors in the virtual environment. These engineering and testing methods enable our engineers to create products that meet their user requirements while taking into account COGS constraints, manufacturing and production timelines.

Proof of Concept

Our proof of concept method enables our design team to share internal knowledge, explore emerging technologies on the technology roadmap, and provide a tangible concept. This important part of the process is the first place product designs come to life. By its nature, a proof of concept (POC) is a small exercise to test the design idea, an assumption, or a technology. The main purpose of developing a POC is to demonstrate the basic functionality of our design and to verify a certain concept or theory that can be achieved in development. For some products, this can also be the time to do a failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) to ensure that the product meets the safety standards put in place by various governing bodies.

Beta Prototyping

Beta Prototyping is a quick and effective way of bringing a proof of concept to life and allows potential consumers to evaluate, test, and share their feedback. We can use this feedback to make improvements to the design and functionality of the product. Internally, beta prototyping helps our team form a more accurate estimate of how long it will take to complete a production model and after that, to manufacturing. Because our human-centered design framework focuses on the consumer, prototyping is one of the most useful activities for moving forward into production while quickly finding any issue

UX and UI Design

User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design are essential components of our holistic design process. Together they define how a user likes a product or service. While UX and UI are sometimes used interchangeably, they are different. The “UI” is the graphical layout of a product. It consists of the buttons users click on, the text a user reads, the images, sliders, text entry fields, and other items the user interacts with. The “UX” is a user’s experience of the product or service, which is determined by how they interact with it. User experience is determined by how easy or difficult it is to interact with the product or service and how it makes a user feel about themselves. Our designers apply insights from our research process to UX and UI to ensure that a product is a perfect blend of form and function.

Technology Roadmap

The technology roadmap development creates our framework for our technologies. The road mapping is conducted in three phases: preliminary activities, the development of the roadmap, and the follow-up activities phase. In the preliminary activities stage, we satisfy essential design requirements, assign leadership, and define the scope and boundaries under the initial vision. In the second phase, the development of the roadmap, we identify the critical system requirements, the major technology areas, the technology drivers and their targets, and the alternatives. In the final phase, we allow our roadmap to be critiqued and improved before implementation. This unique process assures that we focus on cost-advantageous technologies that deliver remarkable results.

Intellectual Property Support

Patenting new device technology is critical in creating lasting value for our clients and to end consumers. We consider whether there is technology to patent early on in the design process and work with our customers to file patents to the USPTO. We routinely assist attorneys and agents with the technical muscle to support the patent applications of our clients. Our experts help patent professionals draft effective and comprehensive claims based on the invention and the characterization data. In addition to data, we provide clear technical support throughout the entire application. In the end, patents allow our customers to own outright the innovations we build together.

Industrial design firm example of Gamevice design work

Industrial Design Solutions

Design is the process of generating ideas to solve a problem and create a solution. This design process is the engine of our economic and cultural growth. Our designers have created designs that have enhanced the lives of millions of people around the world. At the same time, our products have created new opportunities for thousands of companies. While there is no recipe for product success, our deep experience utilizing the P/A framework is as close as it comes for product design. We’ve applied our talents and experience to consumer products, industrial products, medical products, and digital products. While the requirements for each type of product differ, they all require deep empathy with the target consumer. This target consumer may be a mom, businesswoman, factory worker, nurse, or musician. We’ve designed for them all.

Industrial Design for Digital

As more people use their devices to interact with friends, family, and companies, emotionally connected digital experiences are more important than ever. These connections are formed by using our P/A framework to solve deep and important needs for users worldwide. Not only do emotionally connected digital experiences increase important business factors like CLV and decrease CAC, they drive important human results. We’ve developed digital tools to help solve the student debt crises. We’ve created user interfaces for medical, consumer, and industrial devices that increase efficiency and lower the risks of life-threatening errors. In each case, we’ve combined our cross-functional expertise with the latest technologies to deliver engaging and relevant digital experiences.

Consumer Industrial Design

RKS has deep experience in solving complex consumer product challenges. RKS founder Ravi Sawhney began his career on the team responsible for the Macintosh graphical user interface (GUI). This GUI later paved the way for Windows and all other operating systems that required users to navigate visually instead of with code. Later, RKS was the design lead for the breakout children’s toy Teddy Ruxbin. Since then, RKS has led the design of hundreds of consumer products, many well known in their industries. RKS designed Gamevice, which allows mobile gamers to turn their devices into ergonomic controllers. FloWater, which is leading the reduction of plastic bottles in workplaces, gyms, and competitive sports worldwide. Our team draws upon this experience as we create entirely new products and product categories.

Industrial Design for Industry

Over our long history, we’ve designed and consulted some of the most well-known

industrial products around the world. From some of the largest carmakers in the world to the largest semiconductor companies in the world, our work is broad and deep. In most cases, our work is confidential. We work in the background to help companies reimagine industries, products, and the processes around them. Industrial products are often incredibly demanding: low tolerances, high precision, and longevity. New materials are constantly being created. We take our job seriously to design products that meet these demanding needs while using the latest technologies to drive down costs and increase productivity.

Medical Industrial Design

Medical products allow us to use emotional resonance to save lives and help people at their most vulnerable. Because of their importance in caregiving, many stakeholders’ needs are usually considered in the designs. These stakeholders can be nurses, patients, and even the government, which may need to be considered in designing medical products. Each stakeholder potentially has various requirements that range from regulatory to budgetary. We’ve worked in these complex stakeholder environments to engineer mobile ventilators that help people breathe and designed DNA sequencers to help technicians work with doctors to diagnose genetic diseases.

Open Innovation Industrial Design

Some product categories go beyond or blend traditional market categories. The problem they seek to solve has no solution yet. In some cases, the solution has not yet found a designer to solve it. Our designers thrive in environments of uncertainty and bold ideas. The best design can come from the hardest problem – a problem where just testing solutions are at the forefront of technology or industry. Our cross-collaborative environment of the best designers, engineers, and innovators is perfectly suited for generating and confronting bold ideas that solve problems by finding the best solutions.

FAQ's

Product design often happens in conjunction with product engineering. Product design is the process of defining the requirements of a new product and then turning those requirements into a visual, tactile, or digital product. Product engineering is determining what and how technologies can be used to fulfill the design requirements. Often there are many iterations of a product at various stages of completion to allow key stakeholders to make decisions. There can be multiple phases of design, including an ideation phase, a sketch phase, a CAD phase, and multiple prototyping phases. Product engineering should happen in conjunction with design to ensure that decisions can be manufactured while maintaining a viable price point for market acceptance. Product engineering is the process of combining or creating technologies and materials to implement the designs.

Prototyping is an indispensable part of the design and development of medical devices. Now, more than ever medical devices are being designed using consumer product principles. Users and buyers of these products are empowered to make decisions on whether to use devices, and will make these decisions on how a product looks and feels. Prototyping is the best way to uncover how future users and buyers will respond to a product before the design is finalized. By testing these human factors with prototypes, we can receive real-time responses and reactions to potential design directions. RKS has a full prototyping lab in-house, that includes CNC machining, 3D printing, and AR/VR capabilities. RKS has the ability to support prototyping needs at all levels to facilitate the development process. Oftentimes our team is engaged early to create fast-fail feasibility prototypes and proof of concept prototypes to develop and test new features and functionality. This is typically where innovation and patent creation takes place and is instrumental in the development process. RKS also develops ergonomic and usability prototypes to support testing with users to validate approaches. The team also has the ability to create looks-like, works-like prototypes of systems for final validation and testing and can also support the creation of dozens of prototypes if needed prior to moving to a manufacturing partner for full product launch.

 

Packaging is usually customized for each product. There are varying degrees of this customization. In some cases, the customization is simply the branding, fonts, colors, and choice of label. In other cases, the packaging is designed from the ground up, from the actual industrial design to the engineering and material selection. Determining the extent of the customization is often determined by multiple factors:  budget, marketing needs, product type, and regulations. Many products require packaging to comply with relevant regulations. In such cases, the packaging must be tamper-evident, hermetically sealed, or child-proof. Therefore, finding the right packaging for your product is often a combination of research and design.

There are three main types of product design: experience design, interface design, and industrial design. Experience design usually encompasses the second type of design because it refers to the holistic experience of a product. Interface design, also known as user interface design, is often for digital products and refers to the way users interact with digital elements on a screen. In the world of XR, interface design can also refer to pseudo-real elements. Industrial design is a type of product design referring to physical products which may or may not be used for industrial purposes.

Our core design process is Psycho-Aesthetics, a human-centered design-thinking methodology created by RKS Founder Ravi Sawhney. Psycho-Aesthetics has seven main phases: Research, Synthesis, Key Attractors, Hero’s Journey, Design, Execution, and Moments of Truth.

One of the best ways to become a product designer is by designing products! Formal education can help you build a portfolio of products, which is critical in attaining a position at a design firm or on a design team. If you don’t have a formal design education, then you should create some side projects that show your design ability. If you already have a portfolio you can apply to a designer role at a design firm like RKS: RKS Careers