Dedicated to Design

One way to counteract increasing competition in your market is to sell products that feature superior industrial designs.
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There are many ways that a savvy custom installation firm can counteract increasing competition in its market. One approach is to provide better service and learn how to be compensated appropriately for it. Another is to sell products that feature superior industrial designs and engineering.

By seeking out relationships with companies that go the extra mile to hire top industrial designers and technical engineers, a dealer demonstrates to a potential client that he or she possesses strong attention to detail. This client will, in turn, naturally assume that her dealer's system designs will be just as tasteful and sophisticated as the products that he sells. I imagine that most clients would be willing to spend a couple of extra bucks for this sort of reassurance.

It seems that more and more dealers are catching on, just as manufacturers themselves are beginning to take more care in the designs that they bring to market. For example, I recently traveled to Italy where video products manufacturer SIM2 hosted a handful of journalists and a key U.S. dealer at its corporate headquarters near Venice. We were treated to an in-depth explanation of the company's intense engineering focus and told about the emphasis it places on innovative industrial design. Maurizio Cini, CEO of SIM2 parent company Sleco, explained that as a small company, engineering and design excellence is essential to SIM2's ability to compete with larger consumer electronics companies. Design, Cini explained, is much more than a marketing gimmick in Italy; it's a way of life.

SIM2, with its uniquely shaped rear-projection DLP monitors and sporty Grand Cinema and Domino projectors, isn't the only company catching on to the importance of engineering and aesthetics. Residential Systems managing editor Margot Douaihy also received an inside look at a European manufacturer's passionate attention to design. This past spring, Douaihy traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, for a preview of Jamo's new fully integrated home theater solution. As she explains in her article on p. 24, the company's 2F Concept was named for its intersection of form and function. It encompasses an HD- and ethernet-ready plasma, DVD/DVR, source amplification and surround sound in a system that embodies Scandinavian industrial design and technological acumen.

Douaihy noted that the Danish design firm of Birgitte Smedegaard and Sine Weiss, who won accolades for previous Jamo equipment designs, "established a cohesive visual language that breaks conventional paradigms." Douaihy suggested that each device fuses traditional Scandinavian design code with new interpretations, including restricted use of color and unembellished contour. The design team and Jamo engineers collaborated to create a finished system that reflected simplicity and supreme ease of use, from the streamlined remote, to on-screen menus to speaker grilles.

The great support shown for this Residential Systems' first industrial design awards contest this past month further indicates that manufacturers are recognizing the role of design in their product development processes. This year's RESI Awards will be announced September 9 at CEDIA EXPO, but in next month's RS you will get a chance to read about all of the finalists and see what our esteemed panel of dealers and industrial designer judges has deemed worthy of special praise.

As Peter Hoagland explains it in this month's cover story on p. 32, "More and more consumer electronics brands are turning to industrial designers for a variety of reasons: to improve their brand image, enhance perceived value, increase sales and market share or make their products more 'global'."

Industrial design, Hoagland asserts, has become more than just styling and fashion, "it is good business and often critical for the bottom line and some time's their customer's bottom line, too," he said.

Industrial designs are crucial to our business for other reasons, as well. As Hoagland noted, "Virtually all of the products that this industry markets, sells and installs demand simplicity and ease of use by the end user. It can be the difference between making a sale or not. Whether the customer is happy with their products also could mean the difference between repeat business and referrals or not."

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