Design Concepts is an innovation and product development consultancy with 50 years of experience helping companies worldwide to uncover needs, discover opportunities and design solutions that create business success. Through our multidisciplinary teams, we provide the experienced and unbiased counsel, polished deliverables and proven results you need to successfully navigate the risks of product development.
Our front-to-back-end innovation services include expertise in user research, business and design strategy, industrial and user experience design, human factors, electrical and mechanical engineering, and in-house prototype development.
We approach each project with an eye to the business success of our clients to ensure that we deliver solutions that are not only exciting but commercially successful. We’re keenly aware of those not-so-sexy parts of development that can make or break a project. Picking the right ideas that create value is more difficult than just sketching cool ideas. That’s where we shine. We work for our clients’ success, not just our portfolio. And our portfolio, which is filled evocative solutions to challenging projects, is great because of that commitment.
Our team of around 70 smart, caring professionals located in Madison, Wisconsin, and San Francisco, are partners in your product development journey. We’re small enough to provide individual attention, customized solutions and across-the-board accountability and big enough to deliver smart, proven results.
Whether it’s an anesthesia machine or a batting helmet, the elegant solutions we design improve the way people live, work and play. And, just as important, they help companies grow.
Proton therapy has many advantages. It effectively targets cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy tissue and organs. But the experience isn't easy on stressed patients. That's why when ProNova decided to develop a more compact and affordable version of the equipment, they asked us to design the overall experience including system aesthetics, general room layout, and information architecture of treatment interfaces with the goals of increasing efficiency, accuracy and throughput.
To increase comfort for patients, we designed a more intimate treatment room that features a partially obscured nozzle that lessens the sense of the equipment's scale. Every piece of equipment that a technician or patient would see or touch has a modern, simple cover. The ceiling awning is strategically placed so a patient can watch a projected video during treatment to help the time pass more quickly.
For technicians, we designed an elegant control pendant, console and single-action snout clamp. Digitally, we defined the workflow for each type of patient treatment and created the information architecture for the five touchpoints used during the procedure. Working with ProNova’s software team, we designed the process and the accompanying screens. We created the user-friendly, information-rich visual design of all digital interfaces. This includes the treatment room projections that communicate procedure status to increase technician efficiency.
Velasso LINKA bike lock
Eight-five percent of stolen bikes are inconspicuously ridden away. Velasso focused on smart technology that immobilizes the wheel and locks it to the frame while sounding a 100 decibel siren if the lock senses that the bike is being tampered with. The Bluetooth-enabled LINKA bike lock will recognize you through your smartphone and will automatically unlock as you approach so you don’t need to carry a key. It also features tamper alerts that are sent to you via your smartphone in the event that your bike is messed with. The built-in siren is programmed to minimize false alarms by discerning between the movements of thieves and someone who might have accidently bumped your bike.
A lock this smart deserves an equally smart aesthetic. The goal was to create a design and form factor that cyclists would be excited to put on their bikes. Design Concepts created a signature look for the LINKA that is modern, elegant and unobtrusive. The round, streamlined design highlights the lock’s enhanced functionality.
OneWeb satellite terminal and solar array
OneWeb is working to connect the half of the world that currently has no access to the Internet. The company wants to make it easy to connect using low-cost, lightweight, portable satellite terminals that can be powered by solar energy in emerging markets and rural areas. It asked us to design ground-based satellite terminals for three usage scenarios and a portable solar array.
We devised and refined a cohesive brand language with a user friendly and elegant appearance. With little to go on – just OneWeb’s vision and a set of dimensions to accommodate the embedded technology– our industrial designers quickly created a range of concepts. The selected approach uses an articulating mount to secure the satellite terminal onto a solar array that folds up neatly for greater portability and ease of distribution.
Our engineers tackled the mechanical challenges of a folding solar panel, designing the articulating mechanisms necessary for smooth, reliable operation. With plans in hand, our prototyping team built a glossy, realistic model to unveil at the SATELLITE trade show.
Seeing a city from the back of a pedicab is a unique experience that’s fast enough to get you where you need and slow enough to allow you to really appreciate the streets on which you’re traveling. Coaster, which operates pedicab operations in several large cities, was looking to create and manufacture a next-generation pedicab that’s mechanically reliable, an eye-catching billboard for advertising, and a fun experience for both riders and drivers.
The Design Concepts team included avid cyclists with experience designing and engineering bicycles. They brought their expertise to the inner workings of the bike, creating a sturdier gearing and braking system. The stylish, approachable design provides comfortable seating, cover from the elements and an unobstructed view of the surroundings for passengers. It offers more storage and better lighting visibility for drivers. Finally, the cab is wrapped in plastic panels that can be easily removed, decorated with advertising, and re-attached by Coaster mechanics.
Pelvalon Eclipse System
For many women with Accidental Bowel Leakage (ABL), the loss of bowel control becomes the controlling force in their lives. Recognizing an unmet need, a San Francisco Bay Area-based startup called Pelvalon developed a non-surgical solution that provides immediate relief. Eclipse is the first vaginal balloon insert designed to provide bowel control. It’s inflated and deflated with a detachable pump, which allows the user to control the timing of her bowel movements.
Our research and design team interviewed participants, and even tried Eclipse themselves to gain empathy. They concluded that the pump needed to convey a balance of friendliness and comfort with enough medical cues to make it feel like a real solution. Because of the stigma attached to ABL, the pump needed to be small, discreet and innocuous. Realizing that many women would probably keep it in their purses or their medicine cabinet, the team created a brand language and form that’s closer to what you might see at the cosmetics counter.
Spacelabs Healthcare ARKON Anesthesia Delivery System
Spacelabs Healthcare challenged Design Concepts to envision a dramatically different anesthesia system — one that supports the highest level of patient care while meeting the needs of clinicians. A team of researchers and industrial designers spread out across four continents to interview and observe, developing deep insights on the current market and the needs of patients and anesthesiologists.
The result of this extensive research is a flexible design that contains two integrated activity centers known as the “clinical” and “office” sides. The ARKON is the first system designed to allow the anesthesiologist to view the patient and system controls simultaneously during gas delivery. The “clinical” side features an expandable cabinet that safely moves the monitors, breathing circuit, and other clinical components without crimping or damaging tubes and cables. This enables the unit to be optimally positioned for a wide-angle view of the OR that keeps the patient in view. The LED and task lighting systems focus the user on only the controls and information necessary at that moment, an important feature during procedures performed in dark operating rooms.
Many surgeries take hours. During that time, an anesthesiologist may write notes, read an electronic medical record or fill out paperwork. Traditional anesthesia machines don’t offer comfortable workspaces for these tasks. ARKON’s “office” area provides storage for equipment and paperwork, adjustable-height and extended work surfaces, task lighting, USB ports, easy-to-reach electrical outlets, and flexible shelving.
5301 Buttonwood Drive
Madison, WI 53718
West Coast Studio:
260 Shipley Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Contact Name: Rainer Schnabel, Director of New Product Development
- Design research and strategy
- Business strategy
- Industrial design
- User experience design
- Human factors engineering
- Electrical engineering
- Mechanical engineering
Our clients include many of the most successful healthcare, industrial and consumer goods companies in the world including Harley-Davidson, GE Healthcare, John Deere, P&G, Newell Rubbermaid, 3M, Boston Scientific, Covidien, Black & Decker, Wilson Sports, Diversey, Bissell, Stryker, SC Johnson, Wolf Sub-Zero, Ritz-Carlton, Motorola, Ikaria, Georgia Pacific and Trek.