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3 Design Principles to Better Your Business

Design is now at the forefront of innovation. Does your company have the best design team it can? Check out how the landscape has changed.
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It’s no secret that smart, beautiful design greatly impacts our daily lives.

From the sleek innovation of our smartphones to attractive home goods with clever energy-efficiencies built in, design helps us fall in love with new products and ideas. Also it changes purchasing and behavior patterns--and maybe it could even the world?

Be sure your design team understands that the real value of great design is more than skin deep. In your own business, don’t miss the opportunity to harness that power to change for the better: increasing health, accessibility and efficiency through design.

Here are three design considerations that can dramatically impact your business-;and the world-;for the better.

Design for Health and the Environment

Products designed with our health in mind are plentiful. Healthful and beautiful products, however, are few and far between. What if the prettiest package was by default the best choice for the environment? As more companies become thoughtful about the design of their products, people can begin to make the connection that health and beauty go hand-in-hand. Method--the company that produces non-toxic household products--is a great example of how appealing and economical design can guide people to do the right thing. As the consumer standing in the dish soap aisle, we have a dizzying array of choices before us. But all we have to do is pick the unique, appealing package to do “the right thing” for the environment.

In the case of building homes at Blu Homes, the same principle applies. Our homes are not beautiful in spite of their health-consciousness, but as a purposeful result of it. For example, expansive windows and high ceilings let in dramatically more natural light than an average home. The result is better emotional health and a connection to the outdoors that has been proven to lead to a healthier lifestyle.

The takeaway: Think about where beautiful design can do the “heavy lifting” for your consumer. Do the thoughtful design work to make your product appealing and you will not only increase sales, but offer the opportunity for the buyer to make a positive impact on her health and the health of the planet. Win-win.

Design for Everyone

As consumers, we expect more for less-;for products, for clothing, for food, you name it. Have you noticed that even very young adults these days want brand names and high fashion labels? Target is one example of a company that understands this. It supplies great design for an unbelievably low investment by featuring fashion designers. I love that this has elevated the country’s demand for great design! Today we all deserve it, and we all expect it.

Moving forward, that demand needs to be met in a sustainable way that marries the highest quality green standards with high design while making it available to as many Americans as possible. At Blu, we are looking to meet that goal by bringing architect-designed homes-;previously unavailable to the large majority of the population-;to more Americans. Our model lets the consumer choose and personalize a home so that they are not sacrificing choice and individuality in the name of value.

The takeaway: Great design isn’t for one class of persons anymore, but is increasingly an American “right.” Think about where good design will come from in your case. With Target, it’s fashion designers, and with Blu, it’s architects. Who will it be in your business? Look at how you can combine beauty and functionality for a more attractive and streamlined result. This might mean developing new tools and overhauling processes, as well (in our case, it meant creating an online “Configurator” tool, for example). Be brave! In my experience, the payoff can be huge-;in fact, we’ve found that consumers that have saved a design they’ve created using our Configurator are four times as likely to buy a home!

Design for Efficiency

Creative, stunning, eye-catching design often calls to mind images of brighter, bolder, and bigger. No longer. A lot of ink has been spilled on this subject, but it’s time we stop discussing it and truly embrace the goal of designing smart (even where that means “small”). That might mean using great engineering and specialized expertise to bring a beautiful product to life. The obvious example would be Apple, or any of the other manufacturers of our newest modes of communication. New patents, never-before-seen processes, and bold experimentation are at the core of each new iteration of our smartphones, while the devices keep getting more sleek and streamlined.

I see a similar process at work every day in the proprietary steel-framing of our Blu homes, which are engineered to allow them to fold for shipping, and then unfold to reveal their stunning beauty. Our eight home models come in a variety of sizes, but all are precision-built, with clean and spacious lines, high ceilings and thoughtful storage systems to create delightful, efficient environments.

The takeaway: Smart design that works hand-in-hand with the technology of a product pays off. It’s at the heart of the beautiful structure of a house. And smart does not mean big. Respond to popular demand for smaller, lighter things with innovation.

 

 

 

Last updated: Nov 29, 2012

MAURA MCCARTHY | Columnist | Co-founder, Blu Homes

Maura McCarthy had been a venture capital investor at Ironwood Equity when she co-founded Blu Homes. She is a board member of The Capital Network, and is part of the U.S. Green Building Council and the Renewable Energy Business Network.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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