Form3 Design is an innovation and product development consultancy, established in 1997, helping companies to uncover needs, discover opportunities, and deliver solutions that are not only exciting but also commercially successful. A hands-on group of 10 industrial designers and mechanical engineers provide a comprehensive and targeted service for manufacturers. Form3 Design is located in Vancouver, British Columbia just across the United States Border on the West Coast of Canada.
Our goal is to create products of substance that are more desirable, useful, and sustainable. We transform creative ideas into compelling products through an iterative process of design, prototyping, and testing. Our approach allows us to successfully navigate through the many technical challenges and constraints that emerge in product development while honouring the original design intent.
Teamwork and attention to detail contribute to getting many products successfully into production and reaching the marketplace. All products, no matter how green, take energy and resources to produce and contribute to the growth of landfills when thrown away. By improving user experience, products will be used longer and will be less likely to be thrown away. Simple and timeless design statements will make it less likely that a product will go out of fashion.
We have worked closely with many clients, across a wide range of industry sectors, who share our passion for great design. Several high technology companies and adventure sports manufacturers we have worked with have evolved into market leaders with strong, internationally recognized, visual brands. Our work includes consumer, consumer sports, medical, high technology, and green technology products.
Avaya / Nortel Networks
For its next generation of IP phones, Nortel wanted an innovative, ergonomic design that differentiates its phones in the marketplace. Nortel commissioned Form3 to develop a cutting-edge phone that would enhance customer value. To maintain brand consistency, the new phone needed to share some common characteristics with Nortel’s traditional line of phones.
Reducing the desktop footprint was another primary design objective. This was accomplished with a revolutionary vertical design. In addition to taking up less space on the desk, the portrait orientation of the main interface area makes the phone visually smaller than comparable sets on the market. To improve user experience, Form3 enhanced the interface area with a metallic finish. Most key shapes of the phone are consistent with past Nortel sets to maintain brand consistency and user familiarity. Form3 introduced a new navigational cursor, blue back lighting on the display, and LED status indicators to simplify use and improve usability.
The angle-adjust mechanism allows several viewing angles from nearly vertical to a horizontal wall-mount position. The same wall-mount position is also used for compact shipping. Innovative wire management features means that the phone can be used directly out of the box for any application without having to turn the phone upside down to install cables.
The EyeForcer was designed to prevent a newly defined condition caused by overuse of smartphones, computers, tablets, and gaming systems called Gameboy Disease. The gadget looks like a pair of glasses without lenses and is fitted with a Bluetooth radio, accelerometer, and battery pack. The EyeForcer connects to an Android companion app, and as soon as the user starts to slouch, a warning message pops up on the screen. If the user receives the message more than five times, the game played or the video watched will shut down.
EyeForcer was showcased for the first time at the 2016 Consumer Technology Show in Las Vegas and received an overwhelming response from attending companies and the media.
WalkTop is a product that encourages people to stand and exercise while working. The removable surface converts most treadmills into a walking desk, allowing users to be active and productive simultaneously. It is light enough for one person to carry and folds flat for storage or transport.
It adjusts easily to the most comfortable height and incline position for each user. Different surface angles are available for reading, typing, and writing. The patent pending accessory rail will eventually allow some cool accessories for users to customize their WalkTop™ experience.
G3 Ion Binding
The ION Binding is considered one of the most desirable products in its market category—the most powerful and intuitive lightweight freeride ski touring binding to date. It has received six industry awards.
Form3, working closely with the G3 team, with a clear understanding of the technical limitations, generated appealing shapes and features that contributed to meeting strength, weight, and function targets. The positive outcome has allowed G3 to shift into a period of growth and investment in additional development.
The intended market for this binding required a look that walked the line between lightweight and bombproof. Form3 defined the product aesthetics, including form, colours, and graphics. The visual language developed aligned with G3’s high performance standards and highlighted their innovative backcountry equipment. A cohesive application of form and colour helped to unify a range of complex parts using different manufacturing technologies. Shapes and line communicate power and fluid motion. Colour is used to highlight key touchpoints and help define the mechanical form. Active mode indication rather than passive graphics is used to ensure that users understand the mode of use.
G3 FINDr Lightweight Carbon Ski
The FINDr ski, launched in the 2016/2017 winter season, has already collected two industry awards. The ski aims at the high performance mountaineering market with an ultralight carbon fiber construction. To achieve this, Form3 worked alongside the G3 team to remove mass from the ski by designing elegant shapes without negatively affecting flex performance. The shapes had to be easily machinable and within the capabilities of the vendor to minimize cost. A central rib controls stiffness and the tip retains mass to keep it on target in rough snow. Urethane sidewalls—a new technology in the industry—address typical problems of dampness and durability for lightweight carbon skis.
Form3 developed the shapes with a vision for how they could be implemented on future skis to maintain a consistent brand language. The shapes can be scaled across different models and sizes to modify performance and visual impact as required for the characteristics of each ski. Strong graphics and bold fields of colour were developed to grab attention and to make strong brand impression.
G3 Ski Poles
G3’s first foray into the challenging and saturated backcountry pole market has been a resounding market success.
The design process started with a blue-sky exploration phase that yielded a good set of innovative product features and a new take on some classic ski touring features. An ergonomic analysis of competitor products demonstrated a surprising lack of consideration for gloved hands. It became important to develop a shape that would be large enough to respect human factors data, but also respect the lightweight goals. From there a shape was developed initially with shaped foam for quick testing and iterative modifications. Once the shape was determined, a CAD model was generated that captured the complex surfaces and accommodated the innovative features with respect to the vendors molding capabilities.
The design has several key features appreciated by users leading to G3’s pole taking a large portion of the market:
- Aggressive hook on the grip makes for easy manipulation of binding heel lifts and improved retention in the hand when strap removed.
- Asymmetric basket works like a tool to manipulate lifts and buckles, reduces snow drag when walking, and eliminates cantilever effect on hard packed snow
- Dual density materials for grip sensitivity
- Removable strap for improved backcountry safety or tree skiing
- Two eyelets for use as tie points when snow camping
- Minimal shaft grip for quick side hill hand positioning without adding too much weight
Part colours and graphics were developed by Form3 to integrate into G3’s common colour palette and branding guidelines and to distinguish different products within the line.
Form3 teamed up with Vacuum to design the pole packaging. The goal was to present the product in an innovative and clean way that addresses retailers’ annoyance at the messiness of poles in the retail environment, but still allows customers to easily try out the grip. Form3 worked to develop the recyclable plastic sleeve while Vacuum worked the graphics.
Knolly Warden Carbon Frame
Knolly was born in the punishing trails of Vancouver’s north shore. The brand’s aesthetic is derived from this environment with a focus on high performance frames that don’t sacrifice strength and stiffness. This approach, along with a reputation for a no compromise approach to design, has served well for the premier boutique brand. So when the time came to introduce a carbon frame, Knolly Bikes faced a risk: a new design with a clean carbon look could alienate customers who had come to recognize the burly machined and welded features that are so visually prominent on Knolly’s alloy frames.
Form3 started the challenge with a discovery phase that explored ways to balance the new aesthetic. The process allowed the team to evaluate and discuss how Knolly wanted to position itself and ultimately make a decision that would define the look of its carbon line of bikes. The design of the Warden C uses tubular cross sections that tie it to the legacy of the brand, but transitions between shapes capitalize on carbon capabilities by emphasizing visual flow between elements. The visual lines of the bike were meticulously tweaked to emphasize strength, speed, and fluidity. Features are elegant but still rugged in proportion to produce a frame with amazing lateral rigidity. Focusing visual mass in specific areas and the addition of armouring help reinforce that this bike can take on all punishment.
Graphics were developed that help enhance the shaping of the frame. Model and technology wordmarks were also developed that will be easily integrated into multiple frame positions.
Logiix Retro Handset
Designed for use with smartphones, tablets, or computers, the Retro handset reduces mobile phone radiation so that talking for longer periods of time can be done safely, while providing screen viewing during the conversations. Device features include a convenient on/off switch, built-in noise reduction and a comfortable, balanced weight.
Sierra Wireless Raven & MP70 Gateway
The AirLink® Raven RV50 industrial 4G LTE gateway offers optimized low power consumption ideal for solar-powered applications in remote locations. The AirLink® MP70 LTE router was developed specifically for mobile mission critical applications in public safety, transit, and field services.
TEO Pad Lock
TEO (Transferable Electronic Operation) is the first keyless padlock you can lock, unlock, access, and share with your smartphone or other Bluetooth enabled device. You can send permissions to a number of people to open and close your various TEOs. Friends, family members, clients, or employees can all have different levels of access for varying times. A custom control app and monitoring suite is used for enterprise applications with multiple TEO’s.
TEO is designed to be rugged, yet compact. The spring-loaded shackle enables TEO to selectively latch or lock and fit through common holes on lockers and hasps. In the instance of a discharged battery, an integral jumping port in the housing can be used to temporarily energize the TEO, to unlock with your smart device. Polished hardened shackles reduce scratching and resist tampering.
Form3 worked closely with the client to transform an idea into physical working concepts. Design challenges included enclosing internal electronics and mechanisms in a reliable rugged form without sacrificing compactness or functionality, the development of an efficient locking mechanism to maximize battery lifespan, and enabling battery replacement while maintaining security.
Interactive Kiosk for University of British Columbia
Design, supply, and installation of a 4.3 metre wide custom kiosk encasing an array of specialized flat screens and multi-touch technology. Challenges included addressing accessibility requirements, maintenance, and structure.
Spectra Handheld Body Scanner
Spectra is a non-contact, optical measuring device, which transfers data to a computer and displays 3-dimensional patient shape data in real-time. The design of the enclosure responds to requirements for a precise structural chassis, while minimizing total device weight to only 1.2 kilograms. We contoured the scanner enclosure to provide a compact and comfortable shape for prolonged use as well as a stable resting position when placed on a flat surface. Built-in feedback through the display allows the clinician to maintain optimal scan distance.
Address: 201—405 Railway Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6A 1A7
Phone: 607 709 3676 ext. 231
Contact: Herb Bentz