We talk to Stannah, who will be presenting an award in week 2, to find out why they believe working with New Designers so important and what they look for in graduates and their work.
→ Why do you find working with New Designers so important?
This is the first year that we at Stannah have decided to sponsor an award at New Designers and the decision to do so was relatively easy.
When people think of our company they often don’t realise that we have actually been around for over 150 years, always in the business of lifting and moving people. Our founder Joseph Stannah was a great supporter of education in engineering:
“It is undoubtedly the duty of every engineer to instruct their share of the rising generation, but it is also their duty to do it in such a way as shall conduce most to the general prosperity of the future”
Taken from Joseph Stannah’s letter to The Engineer, 1 February 1889
That doesn’t mean we are continually looking back though. We launched our Joseph Stannah Foundation in 2018 to support and promote engineering and related subjects as a career. Design is an inherent part of that. Working with New Designers allows us to continue Joseph Stannah’s vision 150 years down line and to look ahead to the exciting development
→ What do you look for in graduates and their work?
We look for innovation and an ability to solve a problem with a user friendly solution. Last year when I visited New Designers, amongst the many fantastic projects that were being exhibited one in particular stood out. Jake Paisley’s dementia home support system struck a chord for lots of reasons. We typically sell stairlifts to older people but we have also been working on a variety of apps that can enhance their lives and the lives of their families or carers. Jake had clearly been thinking along similar lines, trying to solve every day problems in an innovative way. His design had been through a sound iterative process. At each step he had analysed his output, tested it and then refined it, ultimately producing an extremely useable product. His ability to look at an issue, understand the potential user and make product design alterations along the way, particularly when a user’s needs might change with time, was exactly what we look for from our own design team. To be able to capture that enthusiasm and apply it to our processes is key to the future of our products and our business.
→ What advice would you give to graduates?
Having a good idea is one thing but you must be able to demonstrate that vision through excellent visualization. Always keep in mind that new product development is best approached as a process of continual improvement. Use illustrations, renderings and prototypes to show you have understood a real-life problem and can solve it.
Meeting Jake reminded me why I had gone into engineering. We were so impressed with him that we were able to offer him a job. Being able to bring him on board at Stannah as part of our forward thinking design team has been a success for us and is one of the many reasons we decided to get more involved with New Designers.