“That Made has boldly taken on such great diversity is very positive. Furthermore, they think internationally and have in a short time built up a highly professional reputation at the service of the industry. Made is the proof that the mix of talented product and service designers truly does make it possible to build a sustainable career in Flanders. We look forward to what the next decade at Made will bring. We have high expectations.”
GROWTH THROUGH DESIGN AND INNOVATION
Innovative products, services and digital interfaces, that is what Made is all about, up there on the roof of their old factory building in Antwerp. Every day, business managers Simon de Smet and Timothy Macken and their team of design thinkers and researchers work on innovative solutions for both SMEs and multinational companies such as Bayer, Bringme, Coca-Cola, Ecover and Televic. The foundations for their success today were laid quite some time ago.
“I never dreamt of product development and entrepreneurship, but if I look back I can see how I ended up here”, reflects Simon, whose grandfather was an architect and who as a small boy often stood beside the drafting table and so learned at a young age to draw and create. And while Timothy initially planned to study architecture at Ghent, he ultimately wound up in Antwerp studying product development, and there he met Simon.
When Philips kept on asking the two friends back after their internship was over, they saw an opportunity to start something from the ground up. Made’s beginnings were like a storm, rock-‘n-roll and ambitious. They worked day and night to prove themselves. The result? A rapid growth in clients, mainly with a technological profile, for whom Made focused primarily on the design and development of physical products.
It was precisely in that area that Made has undergone major change in recent years. Because they were involved at an earlier stage of the thought process, the aim was not in the first instance to offer solutions, but above all to begin by asking the right questions. Questions from the perspective of the end user. Questions to which the answer wouldn’t ultimately lead to an innovative end product, but to a solution with a much better user experience and higher quality of life.
This evolution from a pure product development studio to a design and innovation studio seemed a natural step. Nowadays, their designs, concepts and projects take the user as their starting point. From there, they work on innovative products and services, but thanks to the digital revolution also increasingly on interfaces.
Their own working method lies at the basis of every solution they develop. So they begin first with thorough research before embarking on the quest for new ideas, and only after that do they begin to design. Clients value in particular their strength in involving all parties in the thought process, in order to achieve an innovative result that meets all the expectations of their client, the market and the end user. A powerful process that time and again helps their clients to grow.
Good collaboration is rewarded. Made has been fortunate in recent years to receive a number of national and international awards. “It was absolutely not a goal in itself, but always nice to have. They not only help increase self-confidence, but are also good for our clients, who trusted Made enough to come to us with their projects”, says Simon.
Made is not only able to generate innovative ideas but also effectively to translate those ideas into refreshing designs which they, together with the client, turn into production-ready products.
Despite their rapid growth, Made remains a solid, ambitious team that strives for new challenges. They look forward to the future and are enthusiastic about working with their clients to build it.
Superior medical monitors
Uniti is the newest member of Barco’s product range of diagnostic and clinical monitors designed to provide a more flexible and productive working environment. Made provided the concept and design for Uniti, while also taking charge of the entire range of Barco’s monitors. From a marketing perspective, they decided to translate the chosen strategy into a uniform product portfolio.
As with the bulk of their projects, Made started out here, too, by gathering insights, and in particular by conducting observations in hospitals, interviewing doc- tors and carrying out a detailed needs analysis. These insights not only served as the basis for the concepts developed by Made, but they also enabled Barco to include a number of unique and innovative features.
The result is a series of fine-looking professional monitors, as powerful as they are user-friendly. They help clinicians each day to do their jobs. The monitors make up, for the first time in Barco’s history, a very distinctive and consistent product line that can be combined seamlessly with each other.
The smart box for letters and packages
With Bringme, you can receive packages and home deliveries such as shopping, flowers or dry cleaning at any time of day or night, even if you are not home. An innovative idea that simply needed a fresh view of a product and a smooth interface in order to turn it into a success story. To do this, the Leuven-based start-up called upon Made.
Made translated the concept of Bringme into all the facets that affect the user, including the mobile application, the interactive kiosk and the smart box itself.
Uniformity across the entire user cycle was essential. To this end, the app works smoothly with the box and vice versa, making Bringme and its first-class user experience unique in its sector.
Moreover, the start-up has in less than a year succeeded in giving more than 19 000 people access to the services of a Bringme Box.
The town hall of the future
Although Lennik invested succesfully in strong digital provision in the past, the town is suffering from a somewhat aging digital service model. Made guided Lennik through the modernization of its services and its internal structure at the town hall. They took care of one clear line through the infrastructure, website and processes, with a view to achieving a uniform vision, strategy and action plan for the short and the long term.
Underlying this project: many diverse design and research methods, including observations of its current operations, interviews with staff members, consultation with citizens, infrastructure workshops, visits to other municipalities, a role play and a website analysis.
For this project as well, Made started with its renowned user-centered approach. All the potential parties (mayor, municipal employees, etc.) were involved in the process, so that everyone could to make a significant contribution to the town hall of the future.
This service design process helps make it possible to bring together various departments and get them on the same wavelength. That is the best guarantee of a single integrated vision across all units of the town administration.
An interpreter desk built by interpreters for interpreters
An interpreter desk is a device used by professional interpreters to translate conversations into another language live and in real time. A demanding process that requires a highly user-friendly product. Intuitive use of the device was thus an absolute must.
The first step was thus for Televic to learn to see through the eyes of their end users. That is something Made did, literally. They brought the West Flemish firm and a number of interpreters together in a workshop, not only so that they could all learn from each other but also to develop new concepts together.
The observations from the workshop and from the interpreters’ experience provided Made with a wealth
of insights that enabled them to design a disruptively innovative product that has since been rewarded with a prestigious iF Design Award. The fact that Televic’s interpreter desk is today the reference point on this market can be seen from the fact that it is now merrily being copied by the competition. Imitation is the sincerest compliment. This product received a Henry van de Velde Label 2015.