New Year, New Look, New Website

New Website - New Year New Look

New Year, New Look, New Website

It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since we launched our rebrand and new website. At the same time, it feels like it’s exactly who we’ve always been. Then, our focus was on creating our brand identity – determining what makes us who we are and starting to share that with the world. It was just the beginning.

New Website - New Year, New Look - Tekna brand and site revamp

Now, with something really refreshing about the year 2020, we’ve built on that story and designed and developed a new website centered around our collective mission to create meaningful product and brand experiences. This evolution provides more visibility into how we work, what it’s like to work with us, and showcases our breadth of experience in a way we’ve never done before. While we’ve highlighted each of our services separately, we hope what rings true is how we’re all connected. It’s our multi-disciplinary approach and our collective expertise that allows us to create experiences with greater impact.

Tekna Awarded Wonderful Workplace

Wonderful Workplace 2019

Tekna Awarded Wonderful Workplace 2019

By Sarah Hollingsworth

Tekna was selected by 269 Magazine as one of Southwest Michigan’s Wonderful Workplaces. This award celebrates the outstanding efforts made by local businesses in the region who build culture and create a great place to work.

The article, released in their 2019 Holiday issue, focused on our culture of authenticity. “The space—with ceilings high enough to allow for an airplane to be suspended above the design team—leaves plenty of room for big ideas, but Tekna’s openness is more than physical.” Being open and ‘real’ with each other and our clients allows for meaningful relationships based on trust.

An excerpt from our feature:

For creatives, it can be hard to let people get a look behind the curtain before designs are polished, but the transparency throughout the creative process is what sets Tekna’s culture apart.
“There’s something really risky about being that up-front and authentic,” says Hollingsworth. “It forces you to be vulnerable.” She believes that, by laying out what she calls the “creative messiness” throughout a project’s lifespan, the firm is able to work through problems and design a product that’s even better than expected.

It was truly an honor to be recognized in this way. What a nice way to close out 2019 with high hopes for 2020 and all that we are going to do with our clients!

Being the First Supply Chain Intern

supply chain internship

Being the First Supply Chain Intern

By Brandon Peterson, Supply Chain Intern

When it came time to look for a summer internship, I really wanted to find something that would help me explore the various aspects of supply chain management. With that in mind, I felt like interning for a larger scale company wouldn’t be ideal because I would likely be limited to a narrower role with fewer activities. Conversely, a smaller company like Tekna would enable me to view the process more comprehensively, and gain a better understanding of what I would like to do in my future endeavors.

My time at Tekna proved to be unique, because not only was this was my first supply chain internship, it was also the first time Tekna had hosted an intern in the production facility. Though I was aware throughout the entirety of tenure that I was the intern, I was never treated as such, but rather was treated as a part of the team.

On my third day of work, before I even had my feet underneath me to get comfortable, I was invited to participate in visiting a new, potential supplier. From there, I knew this was going to be an unforgettable experience that would only benefit me and my professional development. Sure, I had my share of mundane daily tasks such as receiving and payables, but this internship also allowed me to explore other critical functions. Success in supply chain management begins with effective planning, which requires an understanding of customer demand, supplier lead time, inventory management, production capacity, and logistical considerations.  I got to see almost every single aspect of what Tekna’s supply chain looks like from supplier to producer to distribution. I also got to interact in some way or another with several different exercises, such as extracting data from the purchasing software and manipulating it to generate an easily-understood report categorized by product family, and linking that inventory to the value of open sales orders to the customer. An understanding of this type of information is vital to ensure the proper alignment of inventory assets with customer demand and represents a task that moves beyond tactical activity and into strategic planning.

Being able to work with one of the most closely-knit group of individuals made it so easy for me to learn so much. Working side by side with James, Deb, and Ryan every day made it extremely easy to come into work every morning eager to learn and to see what kind of tasks and challenges they had for me. I am forever grateful for all that they have taught me and I couldn’t be happier with how this internship turned out and all the experience I have gained.

When Life Gives you Lemons

medical device

When Life Gives You Lemons

By Mike Stinchcomb, Design Engineer Intern

About 2 years ago I tried to shoe ski down a huge, snowy, slick hill on my way to class (as any college kid would), which resulted in me falling pretty hard on some ice. After my fall, I experienced sharp and persistent pain in my hip. I saw a few doctors who were having trouble finding the root of the problem. I went through 6 months of tests, physical therapy, MRIs, x-rays, and ultrasounds until the doctors were finally able to diagnose me with femoroacetabular impingement. This is a fairly rare condition and the treatment varies from patient to patient. For me, surgery was the solution. When all was said and done, it had taken nearly 15 months for me to go from being injured to fully recovered. For a person who spends a good chunk of their average day either running, biking, swimming, climbing, skiing, or doing any number of physical activities, this injury was tough.

During this time of being injured, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to accomplish with the strong passion for engineering I have. Through my injury, I was both amazed by the capabilities in current healthcare and driven by a passion to help people who are experiencing the same frustration I did. I knew I wanted to use my skills in engineering to advance the medical device industry and that‘s when I came across Tekna.

From a distance, I was interested in Tekna because they do a lot of work in the medical device industry, but when I came in for an interview, my perspective of the company deepened. It became clear to me that Tekna is a needle-in-a-haystack company. From the creative, fun, and dynamic work environment, to the highly skilled, friendly, and hard-working employees, I knew it was where I wanted to intern.

Medical Device - Mike Stinchcomb - Design Engineering Intern

During my first week on the job, I sat down with my internship mentor, Kelly, and we put together a laundry list of things I wanted to learn and accomplish during my internship. To my amazement, and eternal appreciation, she made a way for me to get around to all of them. I wanted to be involved in medical device projects, and I worked on several. I wanted design experience, and I designed multiple components and systems for real projects. I wanted experience with testing, and I designed testing fixtures, wrote test protocols, and performed tests. I wanted to be more proficient in Solidworks, and they let me sit in on simulation and surfacing training sessions. I wanted to learn Arduino, and they taught me. I wanted to learn manufacturing processes, and they let me go on every supplier visit scheduled for the summer. The team at Tekna continuously went out of their way to help me develop foundational, professional skills that they knew I would need in my career.

This servant-hearted leadership is a big part of the company culture at Tekna. If you’re interested in learning something, you’re provided opportunities to pursue that interest. You’re constantly being pushed to grow in your profession. If you have questions or need help, people gladly take time out of their day to assist you. Any one employee will give advice or feedback on your project regardless of whether or not they are working on it too. Nobody shifts the blame, they own up to their mistakes. And it’s not frowned upon to make a mistake. After all, there are very few inventive designs in the world that don’t have a history of failure.

This internship has been foundational in my professional development and has provided me with skills and experience that I will carry with me throughout my career. It’s given me an opportunity to do what I love and help the people I’m passionate about helping — all in an incredible work environment with incredible people. Thank you, Tekna!

A Holistic Approach

Product Design Eve Berndt

A Holistic Approach

By Eve Berndt, Industrial Design Intern

Looking at the bigger picture has always been a tendency of mine. I’ve shaped who I am today, in part, because of my inclination to question ideals, motives, and systems around me. I think it’s a big part of what drew me to industrial design—I love the discussion around what makes a well-designed product. I love the questioning. But more so, I love following the process from idea to visualization to fruition. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to step into other areas of product development—could I be more involved in the manufacturability or branding or research behind a product?

Product Design - Eve Berndt - A Holistic Approach behind product design

What I found at Tekna was an environment where blurring the lines between designated job descriptions is actually encouraged. That was one of the first comments I heard when I started my internship: “People here wear many different hats.” I’ve noticed that this approach helps people empathize across professional fields—when a designer works closely with engineers on a given project, not only can it make them more efficient in similar future interactions, but it equips them with a skillset that might open the door to more engineering-heavy projects in the future.

My first week at Tekna, I was asked what I wanted to get out of my internship. This was the first of many conversations that helped me realize this was a reciprocating process. I was here to help them, but they were sincerely here to help me too. My internship mentor, Kyle, planned out a few exercises where I got to take products apart, document how they work, and redesign a new form around the internal components. I learned which manufacturing processes are ideal based on quantity of parts needed, how to spot imperfections from certain processes, and how the incorporation of certain features can drastically change the user’s interaction with a product.

By my second week, I was lucky enough to join a design team working on a new surgical device. Because the project had just kicked off, a lot of sketch work was needed around the ergonomics of the handpiece and how a surgeon or scrub tech would ideally use it. The journey-mapping portion of the process was especially interesting, analyzing how a product travels from a shelf, across the sterile field, and into a surgeon’s hand. I was trusted to produce concept sketches that were in most cases client-facing, meaning the sketches needed to speak for themselves, with no other visual aid or hand gestures present to explain an idea.

Several designers got together each week to critique my work, always in the spirit of making me that much better. I realized I hadn’t gone through many critiques that were of value to me prior to my time here at Tekna. It’s nice to hear that my work is “good” or “acceptable,” but that doesn’t help me move forward. Many of the comments I received were ones I’d never given thought to before, and I welcomed that feedback, internalizing their suggestions and applying them to my work.

When it came time for the intern project, a collaboration between the interns from graphic design, industrial design, and engineering, that level of feedback became especially vital to the success of our end product. We were given five weeks to invent, design, engineer, and brand a birdhouse (that was the extent of the brief). Our mentors played a huge role in guiding that process and working with the other interns ended up being one of my favorite parts of the summer. Problem-solving with people outside of our field was a challenging collaboration for all of us, but it helped me understand their perspectives, and I think it made for a more thoughtful design solution.

When you’re in school for industrial design, everything feels theoretical, idealistic, and justified primarily by your own opinion of what good design is. I found it refreshing to arrive at Tekna and have my ideas constantly challenged. The designers here stress the details—they talk about the purpose behind certain proportions of an object, the surfacing details, even the feeling a user gets from a product. Working alongside this team and producing work for real clients was a privilege that has changed my perspective on this field entirely. I have a more holistic view of my place in design, feeding into that ideal of mine that I should always be looking at the bigger picture. I’m grateful to have been a part of such a collaborative and talented group of people and can’t thank Tekna enough for this experience.

Operation Birdhouse – Summer 2019

Tekna Intern Birdhouse

Operation Birdhouse – Summer 2019

By Summer 2019 Interns: Eve Berndt, Lauren Maksymiuk, and Mike Stinchcomb

During the first few weeks of our internship, we heard talk of an intern project and a running joke about how the birdhouse is coming along. Around our last month at Tekna, we were given the project brief–operation birdhouse. The mission was to create a birdhouse for the back patio—but not just any old birdhouse. They wanted something exciting that pushed the stereotypical confines of everyday objects. We were given the choice to work individually or as a group, and we all decided we wanted to collaborate. Being the first group of interns to do this project, we wanted to set the bar high.

Birdhouse Project Engineering Concepts

There were only a few parameters for the project: the birdhouse should represent the theme of transformation and we could only use materials found around Tekna. We had about a month until the final week of our internship to design, build, and brand our birdhouse. Below is a look at our thought process on each part of the project.

Birdhouse - Summer 2019 Concept Sketches

The Design – Eve Berndt

I always start with quick thumbnail sketches of how I want a product to function and in the first week of this process, our brainstorming sessions really fueled those sketches. We were interested in several ideas incorporating renewable energy and even waterfall features, but as we narrowed our concepts, we focused on what was feasible for us to build (and for Tekna to maintain). At one point, Mike suggested incorporating a wind-powered element, which we all thought was a cool feature and a viable energy source.

Once we chose the QR6 turbine, I started a lengthy process of shaping the birdhouse to pair well with the turbine. We had a very geometric design that we were interested in, but it didn’t have a single curve in it—there was nothing about it that was tying it to the organic, helical shape of the turbine. It’s important to stress these details, because even to non-designers when there’s something “off” about the proportions or curvature of a product, you can tell right away (though you might not be able to pinpoint what it is).

I began playing with tangencies between the profile of the house and the turbine blades, eventually incorporating a curvature pattern that moves in a wave across the panels that line the birdhouse. Each piece of wood has a single curve in it that gets lower and lower as you move from one panel to the next. When we decided on this direction, the curvature still looked a bit stagnant, so there was some work put into how each curve reflected light and how I could alter the location and prominence of the highlights and shadows. Because of the precise modifications, I was making, this was all done in CAD, which also made for a more accurate build later on.

It was exciting (and a bit stressful) to get into the woodshop and figure out the build process while navigating the materials available to us. We each had ideas to bring to the table, whether it was suggesting the best order of operations or where to put contrasting color. That was my favorite part of the process—crossing over disciplines and learning from one another. I think it made for a dynamic final product, one that we’re really proud to have contributed to.

Birdhouse Project Intern Mike Working on

The Engineering – Mike Stinchcomb

Upon being assigned this project, it became apparent that I would need to get creative with the design in order to challenge myself as an engineer. A birdhouse can have a creative form, but I wanted to add a creative function—something that’s not common among many birdhouses.

One idea I had was to use a DC motor to make a moving component. My first thought was to make a water pump with the motor and have a waterfall/birdbath on the birdhouse, but I quickly abandoned the idea because it would require far too much maintenance (replacing batteries, adding water, cleaning, etc.).

Then, I looked to something that would require less (or no) maintenance but still had a moving component. We landed on two ideas. One was to use a horizontal axis wind turbine to turn a camshaft, making the roof of the birdhouse oscillate and have a cool, wavy motion. The other was to make a fully sustainable birdhouse. This would require some form of renewable energy that could power lights, attracting bugs for the birds to feed on. We decided on this direction because it felt the most creative and thematic. Without the budget for the birdhouse, the renewable energy would have to be wind as there weren’t any solar panels lying around the building.

Through some research, I discovered that you can actually convert a DC motor into a generator. By spinning the top, it reverses the flow of current so that you can wire in something, like lights, to the other end and it will power them. The turbine would need to be a vertical axis wind turbine in order to tie in well with the overall design. We chose the QR6 design, which has a cool helical shape that we could tie the form of the birdhouse to and have the best performance for our application. It’s often used in urban environments due to its aerodynamic performance and its helical blade shape, which distributes loads evenly across each blade, reducing noise and vibration.

The next challenge was how to mount the turbine on the pole of the birdhouse without holding the turbine in compression and only using components around the building. It soon became apparent we would need to buy bearings to fit around the pole so the turbine would be able to spin freely. Our project leaders strongly supported mounting the turbine on the pole, so we were granted “buying power” to purchase these bearings.

We also ran into the challenge of turning the motor fast enough to power the lights. To troubleshoot this, we gear-drove the motor. This was easier to do with the turbine mounted on the pole because its rotational speed is greatly increased when transferred to the motor.

All in all, I’d say we were successful in adding a unique and creative function to the design and I found this challenge refreshing.

Birdhouse Project Logo

The Branding – Lauren Maksymiuk

Although I’ve had some experience with branding, I’ve never had to start all the way from the beginning–naming a product I helped create. At first, I didn’t know where to start. How do you come up with a creative name that flows and represents the product well? Fortunately, Tekna’s talented graphic design team had been through this process before and gave me tips on where to start. I began by writing themes that represented our birdhouse: sustainable, shelter, wind, movement, and more. Once I had some general ideas written down, the names started flowing. Some were better than others, but a few of the better names were BlueBreez, Gust Glow, and Lumina.

After coming up with some potential product names, I moved onto the logo design. This involved finding unique typefaces, sketching out simplified icons, and customizing letterforms. After several variations of each name, I narrowed it down to the three strongest options. Ultimately, BlueBreez was the chosen one. This logo represented several aspects of the birdhouse: the first part of the name, “blue,” was because the birdhouse was created specifically for Blue Birds; “breeze” represents the wind turbine that powers the lights on the birdhouse; the simplified wind icon connects to the name and has 3 parts to it, representing the three of us that worked on this project.

The finishing touch on the brand was creating the color palette. Due to the parameters of the project, we had limited colors of spray paint to choose from. Fortunately, there were shades of blue and orange that represented the bluebird and complemented each other well. We applied these colors to a model of the birdhouse before painting and found that the colors worked well when they were used subtly.

After creating a brand for our birdhouse, the finishing touch was a presentation about our process and a final poster. Creating the poster gave me ideas about how I could push the brand further and create a style guide for advertisements and other marketing materials. Even in a short span of time, being a part of this project gave me a sense of the full branding process and how a story unfolds as you create it.

Birdhouse Project final product

Final Thoughts

As students who haven’t had exposure to working with people in multiple industries on one project, there was a lot of trial and error in the first few weeks. There were some design ideas that couldn’t be engineered, and there were some engineering functions that we had to design around. Building the birdhouse taught us how to manage our time, problem-solve, and take a project from start to finish. We’re excited to be the first of many Tekna birdhouses!

Not Your Average Graphic Design Internship

Intern Lauren working on the birdhouse

Not Your Average Graphic Design Internship

By Lauren Maksymiuk, Graphic Design Intern

Before I had even heard of Tekna, the last month of my semester was spent researching and applying for internships at graphic design studios. Up until that point, my experience was limited to branding, marketing, and some web design. When I came across Tekna’s internship opportunity, I was intrigued. Coming in for the interview and taking a quick tour of the space left me knowing this was where I wanted to be for the summer.

Graphic Design Internship

During my first week, I jumped into different projects and got familiar with Tekna’s brand. I met the team, heard about the variety of backgrounds they have, and was blown away by the different skills and creativity. I immediately knew I was going to learn so much here. Looking back, I never thought I would’ve been able to learn how to use tools in the workshop, do research on a new type of fitness, build a brand’s social media from the ground up, and so much more.

My favorite project I got to work on was made specifically for the interns. We were given the task to build a birdhouse, with a couple rules–it had to be from materials found around Tekna and it had to incorporate the idea of transformation. This month-long project gave me so much insight on the branding process, and even the industrial design and engineering fields.

Although we all helped with the overall design and building of the birdhouse, my biggest role was creating the name, logo, and color palette of the birdhouse. Being able to collaborate with people outside of my field was a unique learning experience and taught me to problem solve and design in a different way.

Besides the projects I worked on, being at Tekna and working side by side with innovative thinkers was the most rewarding part. Being a graphic designer, I expected to mostly be doing branding projects and working on the computer all day. Instead, I had the opportunity to build in the workshop, sit it on meetings for different projects, and take photos of things going on during the day. Coming into the office was always exciting; there were some days where I went from illustrating banners with rescue dogs to learning about environmental cleaning supplies to planning out Instagram posts–all in one day. There was never a shortage of projects for me to get involved in and I was always learning something new.

Being able to work with engineers, industrial designers, and many more people gave me a new perspective on graphic design. I had to face new challenges and solve problems in a different way. This is something I’ll value and take with me as I finish my last year of school. Thanks for going beyond my expectations, Tekna!

Michigan Design Prize 2019

2019 Michigan Design Prize

Michigan Design Prize 2019

By Lauren Maksymiuk, Graphic Design Intern

For the 3rd year, we collaborated with students to create a concept at the 2019 Michigan Design Prize. Every year, K-12 and collegiate level students are tasked with designing a product based on larger societal issues and with a Michigan focus. This year, the challenge was to design a physical product solution that improves and beautifies the lives of Michigan’s citizens.

2019 Michigan Design Prize - Collaboration - Michigan Focus

A group of 12th grade students from Branch Area Career Center worked with us to create the “RetroFit” Wheelchair Conversion Kit. Their idea would allow people in wheelchairs to easily navigate and enjoy the Michigan beaches and rough terrain. The kit is quick and easy to assemble, lightweight, and would fit virtually any wheelchair. Their goal was for anyone to be able to assemble the kit on their own, and for them to see the outdoors in a way they haven’t before. The team—Bryce Pagel, Alex Aseltine, Peter Nottingham, Jonathan Annis, Noah Anzaldua, and Khaled Gabri—described the aesthetic of the design as having it “blend in with the wheelchair and be practically unnoticeable.”

Before coming to Tekna, the students had a specific concept they created in CAD and 3D prints. On the day of the workshop, they went back to the drawing board and collaborated with our designers to come up with more ideas. After sketching more, they had new additions that made their product more feasible. The idea of a wheelchair kit like this doesn’t currently exist, but the students decided to take this as a challenge and run with it. 

Another student—5th grader Stone Ellis from White Pines—worked with us to bring his “Current Tracker” to life. He envisioned his product “making swimming much safer by showing the user what speed the current is, so they aren’t in danger of unknown rip currents.” He wanted it to be easy to use and understand. We used his concept to come up with a slim design with a propeller and sensor to detect the speed and location of the current. Stone wanted the tracker to be hi-tech, having the ability to show the speed of the current directly to your cell phone or watch, but also be portable to bring to the beach.  

Eve, our Industrial Design intern, had the opportunity to work directly with the students and design the final visualization of their concepts. “My experience with working with the students was great. I could tell the students have never had a chance to visit a design firm like Tekna, so that alone was fun to witness. It’s always cool to see people’s reactions when you sketch out their ideas right in front of them.” 

Both teams attended the award ceremony on June 12th and took home prizes! The RetroFit brought home Gold and Current Tracker received Silver. We’re so excited to see what the students come up with next year!

We Can Do It!

Society of Women Engineers

We Can Do It!

By Courtney Kohler and Kelly Oswald

Tekna participated in the 6th Annual Corporate Engineering Challenge at the Air Zoo this past weekend, and it was a huge success! The event, sponsored by the Society of Women Engineers, aimed to expose girls ages 9-12 to engineering and science-related activities. Nearly 200 girls participated in the challenge and hundreds of members of the public joined in on the fun. Many of our employees across multiple departments volunteered and showed their support for promoting design and engineering education. We had had a blast interacting with the kids and perhaps recruiting a future member of the Tekna team?!

Society of Women Engineers - Engineering and Science

Our design station at the event introduced the girls to the upfront stages of product design — ideation and sketching. We asked the little designers to develop their “ultimate snow day product.” With first-hand exposure to design terminology and the engineering design process, they made key decisions about their inventions’ features (product name, materials used, etc.). After the product brainstorm, it was time to bring their ideas to life with detailed sketches. From snowball launchers, to sled rockets, to toboggan hill builders, these kids got creative! Later in the day, our very own Krista Grotelueschen represented Tekna on the employer panel and answered many of the girls’ questions about STEM-related jobs.

We have been happy to see an increased focus on boosting the number of women in STEM fields in recent years. However, women still remain greatly underrepresented. Getting girls involved in engineering activities at a young age is critical to instilling a lifelong passion. For some, it can be an issue of confidence, where persisting stereotypes (e.g., that boys are better at math and science) cause girls to shy away from exploring these topics. So how can you help make a difference? For starters, check out this list of 10 ways to encourage your daughter to become an engineer or scientist…and be sure to get involved in next year’s Corporate Engineering Challenge — we’ll see you there!

Design Team Meetings: A Year in Review

Design a mug team meeting

Design Team Meetings: A Year in Review

By Abby Dean, Sr. Graphic Designer

In a busy design studio with deadlines always looming, it can be challenging to find time to keep learning new skills and sharing ideas that are not project-related. At Tekna, we recognize how important it is to stay connected and inspired outside of our daily workflow, so we’ve built in an hour of design team meetings every week that celebrates creativity and exploring together as a team.

The weekly platform is hosted by different designers on a topic of their choosing. The informal sessions range from drawing games to building competitions, to group discussions about ground-breaking technologies and cultural phenomena, to presentations on personal hobby projects.

While we look forward to and enjoy all our weekly get-togethers, here are a few standouts from the past year…

Charley Harper Blind Drawing Design Team Meeting

Charley Harper (1922-2007) was a Midwestern visual artist and naturalist whose prints and illustrations depict wild animals in their native habitats with boldly colored shapes and patterns.

Exercise: breaking the larger group into pairs of “describers” and “drawers,” the two participants sit back to back where one describes a Harper print and the other (without looking at the print) draws what is being described. The “drawer” can also ask the “describer” questions. We were super excited by how close our blind drawings came to the real thing in just 10 minutes!

Design Team Meetings - koala illustrations

Sidenote: if you’re wondering about the material scraps around our necks, we kicked off the meeting with a teambuilding “icebreaker.” Standing together in a group, we formed a circle with a single rope that we each held. Once situated, we were asked to transform our large rope circle into a perfect square—while blindfolded!

Blind Team Portraits

Not all of our Design Team Meetings (DTMs) focus on drawing skills, but as industrial, UI, and graphic designers, it’s one of our go-to themes. Piggybacking off the Charley Harper blind drawing exercise, we sat across from a team member and drew their portrait—while not looking at the paper.

Design Team Meetings - drawing without looking

Later, we translated the portraits into matching collages using official team headshots.

Collaborative/Unconventional Drawing Games

At another DTM, we put our drawing chops to the test in four different exercises:

Exercise 1:  while using a camera phone as a mirror, a team member draws their own head and hair on a blank piece of paper. Passing the paper to the left, the person next to the original artist draws their own eyes on the original head-and-hair drawing.  The person to their left will draw their own nose.  The final person will draw their mouth. The result will be a self-portrait compilation of four different people.

Design Team Meetings - mixed people

Exercise 2:  draw an animal on a paper plate while holding the plate above your head.

Design Team Meetings - plate sketches

Exercise 3:  draw a product without using your hands. You can use your elbows, mouth, etc.

Exercise 4: scribble on a piece of paper, pass the paper to your left.  The person on your left creates an object from that scribble.

Design Team Meetings - design sketches

Nanobot Challenge

Background: nanobots are theoretical microscopic robots that can execute tasks at the atomic, molecular, and cellular level. Assuming an ability to self-replicate into millions of tiny helpers, they have the potential to revolutionize nearly any industry.

Exercise: the full team brainstormed on fun things nanobots might do, eventually landing on the theme “nanobot rose-colored glasses” to explore further. Splitting into smaller teams, each group proposed a unique solution around how to implement or use rose-colored glasses. In the end, we voted on the best concept and awarded a handmade DTM plaque for nanobot “contact lenses” that improved the appeal of a user’s surroundings by enhancing what is already good (e.g., lighting or lushness of a landscape) and concealing what is bad (e.g., garbage or decay). Our runner-up concept, nanobots for children’s hospitals, would help diminish fear and promote comfort by transforming stark patient rooms into kid-friendly spaces with custom scenery (underwater seascape, castle, outer space, etc.).

The Power of Touch

In September, the annual MIX Design Day event held at the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts focused on using the senses to create. Our Industrial Design Manager Ben Purrenhage presented to attendees about how texture can be used to impact behavior and evoke a desired response. Later in the week, he shared deeper insights and research on his presentation with our team, opening the table to a group discussion on the many ways we can incorporate touch into our designs beyond screen technology alone.

Design Team Meetings - Senses

These are just a few examples that showcase the breadth and spirit of our DTMs. We would love to hear how you and your team stay inspired at the workplace. Engage with us in the comments section of this post and be sure to follow us on Instagram to see what we’ve been up to!