BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : NOVEMBER 29, 1999 ISSUE
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A DECADE OF DESIGN BRONZE
Hole In One
Bubble Shaft
Designer Taylor Made Golf Co. design staff
Client Taylor Made Golf
Taylor Made was one of the first to design a different shaft for clubs. Taylor showed that shifting the balance on the shaft can greatly improve a golfer's performance. Introduced in 1994, the Bubble Shaft shook up the game, changed the shape and color of the basic club, and built valuable brand equity for the company. "Taylor Made managed to innovate where others have become accustomed to incremental improvements," says juror Luis Pedraza.
 
Dreamboats
Chrysler Great Cars, Great Trucks Exhibit
Designer Chrysler design staff and Fitch Inc.
Client Chrysler Corp.
In 1996, Chrysler embarked on a new branding effort. It designed a showroom to showcase its brands' products, history, and innovation. More than 3 million people have visited the exhibit. "The multisensory communication experience, without a hard-sell atmosphere, heightens the appreciation," says juror Lorraine Justice.
 
Blood Simple
Microlet
Designer Bayer Corp. design staff and Metaphase Design Group
Client Bayer
Bayer's Microlet is an automatic lancing device for diabetics that takes a tiny blood sample from the fingertip for monitoring glucose. It's easy to use, important because many diabetics have some loss of hand function and vision. Large buttons, colors, and textured surfaces guide people. Launched in 1997, the Microlet's sales are growing fast. "The phenomenal success of the Microlet is evidence of the contribution of design and design research," says Justice.
 
Splashy
Sea-doo watercraft
Designer Bombardier Recreational design staff
Client Bombardier Recreational Products
O.K., they're noisy. But are they fun! In 1990, Canada's Bombardier retooled and redesigned its snowmobiles to create Sea-Doo Watercraft. It moved the engine, shaped a speed-friendly water ski, and added yellow and other playful colors. It also went from 0% of the Japanese-dominated market in 1988 to 50% by 1997. Sales approach $2 billion. "Fun, safety, and water are the elements that shape the positive consumer attitude toward this well-designed craft," says juror Lorraine Justice.
 
Peripheral Vision
Iomega Zip Drive
Designer Fitch Inc.
Client Iomega Corp.
When the Iomega Zip drive was launched in 1995, it was the first mass-market computer peripheral to use color in a bold way and interactive software--not a manual--to show how to use it. The Zip became a new brand. "The Zip drive was an affordable product that turned around a company that was experiencing sales declines and major dollar losses," says juror Noel Zeller. "This is a textbook case of a marketing and design strategy that produced an outstanding business success."
 
Take a Seat
Kart
Designer5D Studio and IDEO
Client Vecta
Space is at a premium in every office, and regular stacking chairs aren't very comfortable. But Vecta's Kart chair is ergonomic, stackable, and storable--handy for schools and conference rooms. Launched in 1998, it is Vecta's No.3 product, with $70 million in sales. "The Kart is a product that has shown up at the right place, at the right time, and at the right price," says juror Justice.
 
Backseat Rider
Breverra Booster Car Seat
Designer Century Products Co. design staff
Client Century Products Co.
Jurors liked the Breverra Booster Car Seat's comfort, appearance, ease of use, and safety. The bucket-seat styling appeals to kids of around 3 years old because it is like Mom's and Dad's. Century Products had 9% of the market in 1993 when the Breverra was introduced. By 1998, it had risen to 32.6%. "Breaking the mold of the children's booster car-seat market, the Breverra boosted Century back to its leadership status in the industry," says juror Noel Zeller.
 
Small Is Beautiful
Digital Satellite Receiving System
Designer Thomson Consumer Electronics design staff
Client Thomson Consumer Electronics
Sometimes all it takes to revitalize a tired brand is one new product. The RCA Digital Satellite Receiving System, which helped make satellite tv affordable, is an example. The 18-inch dish made the old, 6-foot antenna obsolete. It delivers digital picture quality that rivals laser discs. Design research by Thomson Consumer Electronics Inc. led to a better screen display and interface. Some 7 million have been sold since 1994, a major new-product launch. "It's had a positive impact on RCA's image," says juror Stefano Marzano.
 
Clean Sweep
Kärcher '90s Line
Designer Teams Design
Client Alfred Kärcher GmbH
Industrial design is very important in Germany. It was integral to Krcher's corporate product development when the company launched a new line of high-pressure cleaning products a decade ago. The line was deliberately developed to be easy to use. Design also cut manufacturing costs by reducing the number of parts. "The name is synonymous with the product in Europe, proving the successful effect of a long-term design strategy," says juror Marzano.
 
Museum Quality
Glass Innovation Center
Designer Ralph Appelbaum Associates
Client Corning Museum of Glass
Museums have morphed from passive showcases to interactive experiences. Ralph Appelbaum Associates is at the forefront of designing them, and the Glass Innovation Center at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y., is a prime example. Appelbaum souped up the Corning Museum by combining interactive science exhibits with newly organized history and art galleries for glass. "An interesting blend of heritage, education, experience, and fun makes this a very stimulating museum," says juror Lorraine Justice.
 
Squeeze, Please
Paper Mate Liquid Paper Correction Pen
Designer Herbst LaZar Bell Inc. and Gillette Co.
Client Gillette Co.
Everyone uses "white-out" to fix typos, right? Unscrew the tiny bottle, brush on the goo, then try to get it even. It can be a mess. There had to be a better way. Gillette's correction pen works like a highlighter and even clips to shirt pockets. It's neat, clean, and a new brand for Paper Mate. "This product says touch me, feel me, squeeze me," says juror Luis Pedraza.
 
A Surge of Color
SmartSocket
Designer Astro Products Inc.
Client Kensington
One of design's strengths is to transform a low-priced commodity product into a premium product. The SmartSocket line of surge protectors adds data to phone-line protection and color-codes the sockets. Launched in 1995, the SmartSockets brand line has expanded to four other products. "This is a very good example of how design can influence the strategy and direction of a company, " says juror Stefano Marzano.
 

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