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30/05/2012 / inkkin

Reflective Essay

Design world to business World
Business people know that design is a popular subject today. As it created higher competition, designers were brought into more emerging business nowadays. Industrial designer is a typical approach for this particular industry. They work as a bridge between commercial aspect of products or services merging with artistic appearance and also beauty in functions. Those combinations usually represent the keys to success in modern business model. However, the definition of success might differ in each context and industry. Design viewpoints used to be more spiritual or emotional approaches likewise, business people generally focus on costs and profits. Design in a role of business used to just create a product differentiation. Yet, since almost every company todays seem to have ultimate aim to gain highest competitive advantage, the terms of maximizing beneficial issues are involved seeking good designs, social importance, avoiding and minimize waste.

Therefore, at the same times, many designers have been crossed to the commercial world and finding a path of design entrepreneur. It is logical scheme to meet design industry and economic success, so was the same with my personal initiative motivation. To begin with, I had graduate from product design, with 2 years experience in consumer plastic product industry. Within the particular field, I saw potential opportunities from both sides; design uniqueness and consumer market. Then, a chance to study aboard and the chosen pathway given me to step outside my comfort ‘designer’ zone, the module: Design Thinking & Entrepreneurship in Practice at Kingston University gave a practical knowledge and implementation of establishing a company. This essay is a collection of reflective experience from the entrepreneurship module, an extraordinary journey since September 2011 to May 2012.



At the class

The first issue to be addressed is from theoretical side, the concept of Human Centre design. Industrial designers and its practical principles generally agreed that are easy to adapt and fit in a big picture of business model. Dieter Rams, an iconic product designer, who owned the remarkable phase “less is more”, he presented 10 principles of good design, which seem to be a major influence to the world of design emerging business.

He gave a concept that good design is not only an aesthetic, but also must be able to coexist. It must functionally correct, harmonize with user life style, usage and user understanding. (Hustwit,  2009) The principles had been introduced similarly with ’Human center design’ or ‘User centered design’ theory, but obtained more adaptive concept. Human center design seems to be used for emphasizing the capability of problem specification or investigates the ‘hidden task’. Eventually, the method could help designer or researcher to investigate the particular task in different angles. Consciously, by looking from business perspective, it could say that was a great process to seek benefit. It was not just making differentiate from competitors but also differ in the area that customers looking for. So designers who able to highlight the value will get a strong application, which is the essential core for developing successful product or service further.

Another in-class achievement that impressed me significantly is a canvas business model. The model was introduced in the book called ‘Business Model Generation’. Firstly, the visualize graphics had been presented instead of typical descriptive wordy, which normally found in general business book. This book by Mark W Johnson (2010) had came up with an innovative at both contents and the online collaboration. Many people in the community contributed it, and also giving numerous practical existing samples. The Canvas model gives a visual mind to understand the whole picture of business model without confusing by its complication. The communication language is well-designed, not too oversimplified and not too technical terms. Eventually, the essential approach is the ways it prompt and stimulate reader to grab a pen to start formulate the business plan. Personally, providing the simple but efficiency story teaching how build business is excellent, however, the beauty is that it’s also make ease to get actions and involve with the business aspects.

There is an encouragement at the module: creative thinking and entrepreneurship strongly recommended since the very first discuss, ‘Networking’ and the use of social media tools. As designers, I found the crucial use of the social tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Pinterest or Linkdin, which is not only the connection and collaboration between individuals but also to catch and follow the area of intention (Julien, 2009). Global trends generally move forward and change rapidly. Those social media tools simply shared the same characteristic; it breaks down the complexity of modern’s life. With a designer and business hat, the trend forecasting is significant also market the products externally. However, internal factor such as teamwork and collaborations can be improved as well. It allows people or colleagues to share and access the information quickly. Data usually proactive than static documents, online working encourage people to have higher interactive. Therefore, the proper use of social media has capacity to provide more level in the particular business at both internal and external activities, from marketing research, selling channel and the collaborative environment.

Additionally, networking behaviors at individuals seem to have some adjustments in order to fully blended with social media culture nowadays. I gained wider perspective, founding the vital function behind the social events, tradefairs, and how speech can work functionally. Also during the interactive between people, I discover the slightly feature in communication, which seem to be a huge learning curve that really useful for my future career. Presentation and communication criteria were affected directly to the technological advancement. Internet serving lead people preferences to be more visualizes based, and shorten phase. Holtzschue and Noriega (1997) insisted their theory that design this age has to integrate with the latest digital technology, in order to overcome the newest user lifestyle. Moreover, people get used to instant access information at anytime and anywhere. Therefore, everything should concise as possible, old fashion descriptive information is out to date. The trend of ‘infographic’ is one of the key facts that showed how visualize preferences are coming over the world of communication. Designers should provide his/her beautiful portfolio, it should be images present, then accessible online is a MUST. There are several ‘tips & usages in practice’ that was adapted to many levels of human interaction. They will be demonstrated further on next section, the making of company: young enterprise 2012.

September 2011, the beginning of journey, the company were established with a simple concept of selling product. The essential key and strength of the team is all the members living at the same building. The company has been through many struggles, supplier conflicts, and personality crashed. Countless times had been spent in order to go as further as possible. Then eventually, May 18th the prize of our determination has paid off; the company had been chosen to be one of two team representing Kingston University and London. It became one of 5 teams on the Young Enterprise finalist. There are over 300 companies participated from around UK the achievement is priceless. Information below are the reflective and lesson learned from the 8 months company journey.



Begin with attitude.

None of our team member came from the same background, plus completely different culture. Curpy have Thais, American, Brazilian, and Indian. At first glance, it seems to be an issue. However, since it seemed everyone was keeping the flexible and open-minded gap around, the group discussion and brainstorming went well than expected. The circumstance gave a lesson about a role in the team, having self-confident but not over confident, listening and giving opinions by using question phase, those are the art of communication and team working. Compared with my work experience, the role in the team had been fixed by our taglines, so we barely crossed to another field. Yet it fully function but less personal interest and energetic to success, just only focus on finishing the project. Hence, the attitudes setting up at early stage are significant it has capacity to boost an effective teamwork.



Quality and details to all elements, Visual rendering, prototyping

There were two major things I realized from both learning social network tools and group working. First, start with a well presentation is a half-winner. Secondly, visual images better than words, and physical product or prototype better than images. (Note: usually prototype cannot be made completely polish so use both rendered images and a mock up together) This core concept has been applied in the business presentation as well. Our company, Curpy decided to bring the finishing product, displays, packaging every times. It had made a first impression and brought the audiences to pay attention on the product, asking about quality, production, or the future potentials instead of coming over general questions again and again. Furthermore, here are our PowerPoint slides for final presentation at Guildhall London.

Brand positioning, Company in making

Positioning is the most difficult stage of establishing the new company. Since we had not developed the company by the intensive market research, it is about negotiation between personal interest, business fundamental and individual specialist. Before full force developing, it is rational strategy to make sure that everyone in the team knowing the company direction ultimately. As a designer role, I adopted ‘linear design process’, with an established sequence of events that must be completed for the best results. (Simon, 2005)

By beginning with the most subjective issue; Brand characteristic. Among of Logos, typographic designs and colour schemes were created to generate a ‘tangible’ language for our brand personality, which relevant to the people interaction at both physical and emotional ways. The crafted brand personality would lead to our main target group and their purchasing behaviour.



Lack of business – marketing in advance

The down side of our company is the lack of marketing skill. While designers afforded time and energy to pull off the design, productions, displays, and presentation images, at the same time it should be more constructive at marketing approach. Business staffs just struggled on financial and numbers on the paper. Without seeking enough distribution channels, our company relied too much on the tradefair and events. Recently, there is only one shop that sells our product at Kingston Market place, TheWorkshop. The marketing and business mind should give our company more collaborative opportunities, such as a customized design provided to a major retailers, limited design for Kingston University 2011-12. Personally, I had those several ideas in mind, but as a design role my recent works are overload at the times. So for we tried online selling channel and several social media tools, however it seemed those are just basic requirements. So, that was a down point for the team that we lack advance skills in marketing.



To sum up, this extraordinary module has given the wider view of business in action. Knowledge learned by first-hand experience gave a really good kick to my self-motivation. The best analogy to summarize this reflective is probably a “nice cooking meal”. There are preparation processes behind, then serving the dish in an appropriate ways. Finally, once we try to taste, the result is do encourage us to serve more good dishes.



Hustwit G. director (2009) Objectified (Film: documentary)

Simon L. (2005) Design is a Linear process, The general group, (online) available from (accessed on 28/05/2012)

Osterwalder A., Pigneur Y., Smith A (2010). Business Model Generation, New Jersey ,Wiley publishing

Holtzschue L. ,Noriega E. (1997) Design Fundamentals for the Digital Age, London, Wiley publishing

Julien S. (2009) Design and Launch an Online Social Networking Business in a Week, Entrepreneurship Magazine, New York Entrepreneur Press


My relevant blog posts

23/05/2012 / inkkin

Banner, Ads, for Curpy-Bookpuller

23/05/2012 / inkkin


Last week, I met my supervisor to discuss about the dissertation, or personal research project. We talked about my circumstance; business aspect isn’t my experienced field. (so glad that he understand). Then, he suggested the book that perhaps appropriate to my background. The name is ‘Business model Generation’.

I have to admit, I wasn’t that thrilled after I heard the book name. It sounded boring likes other textbook stereotype. But an hour later, when I found the book in the LRC, I laughed out loud.

Even just the look of the book cover, I noticed immediately that this book is the ‘model business canvas’ that we were taught in the Creative thinking and Entrepreneurship class.

At that time, my mind was buzzing around with many things, company project, how can it produce the product?, advertisement and consumer service shouldn’t be my role, isn’t it?? Bra bra … etc. Honestly, I was not really impress the model canvas is really helpful.

But after a few hours, just only looking the first chapter. Well, it wasn’t boring at all. Actually, I found that I able to look at the businesses in a completely different way. This is a really practical book that every businessperson should take a look. Especially, the visualize illustrations is a gift, it’s a pleasure to read. The complicated topics have been simplified.

I’d recommend all of my dear MACE friends have at least a glance. Impressive contents and analysis in practice would teach you to question your fundamental business assumptions. Also you can improve existing organizational structure as well.

23/05/2012 / inkkin

sales, Sales, SALES

Last month, our Curpy team went to Camden Market, together with Flow Scarf team. We shared a stall together. Well, we hadn’t made a great sale there but
I had got a fascinating moment. It’s about people reaction that really inspired me. I’m not going to talk about a theoretical consumer buying behaviors.
I’m usually living on the industrial product industry, cost of production, mass-produce, or supply chains. Those are basically major priorities for the field. Indeed, sometimes I felt that I was more an engineer than designer. Curpy is my very first chance to work in a role of creative designer, which more focus on aesthetic and emotional approach.

People walked pass the stall. They hadn’t really looked for something particularly (yes, based on the market place as well), so signs displays, any decorative elements are crucial. Once they came up, all the visual displays have to work excellently eyes-catching and it MUST done effectively in only a few seconds. Story behind the design is priceless. However if it takes times telling, it need to adapt the way to communicate. I have realized that communication design does not focus on graphic, tagline or commercial ads. The key major is to maximize the appropriate ‘deliverer’. So that the art of visual communication.

23/05/2012 / inkkin

Problems of design language.

Our 2 products surely have a lovely colorful theme, which aimed for “Fun & Solution”. Because they do have functions themselves, besides that bookmark, Penholder keeps your pen attached with a book, and Bookpuller helps grabbing the book easily from a shelf. Both are designed along the playful scheme. Since we’ve given descriptive graphics on the packages and displays, it obviously means that we are showing the product usages. Then, the designs & colors itself gave a feature preference to the buyers to make decision.

Here come the circumstance, my question is

“Does it make sense to focus on selling the Problem Solving part?”

In my opinion, problem solving has two sides. People are instantly buy because they found it could improve life. Otherwise, totally ignoring because they don’t have any problem with that circumstance.


So since we came over and went further in both functions and appearance features. Why don’t we tell them the big picture we have. 

08/04/2012 / inkkin

Online sketchbook.

Professional portfolio is to get a job. Creative portfolio is to find opportunities.

(Esp, working as freelancer)

That moral was found during the laser-cut manufacturer seeking process for Curpy- bookpuller.I walked in their meeting room as a client, yet walked out as a co-worker. Apparently, designers usually get briefs from client or marketing people. So, the question is ‘Do we really need the ideal moment to get a job?’ that moment when clients already have briefs in their mind, then hand them over to you to make it.

That moment when I was standing and wear an entrepreneur hat, I didn’t realized that designers able to play a significant role as an initiative starter. I had just focus on how I pull the production off. Until they asked about that bookpullers are my original design? They loved to see more of those kinds. Luckily, I brought my laptop and showed some of my works.

I showed them my portfolio, the ‘very’ industrial design one, which completely off their area of interest. Thankfully, I grasped that feeling, so I started to show some exist images that our Curpyteam have done before. That was a ‘CLICK!’ Eventually, I have got several freelance souvenir projects, and look forward to furniture project next year. Thus, I learned how crucial of collecting make different type of works. However, it doesn’t sound right that we should present a sketch design with many variation ideas all the time. Accordingly, there are many online resources to choose. Give your networking a space to discover yourself.

So, instead of making a very professional look portfolio; I’ve planned to start making a casual blog to show some of the concept works that look fun. I’m showing the general Creativity and Flexibility to fit in many occasions.

I’ll update and introduce my ‘casual’ portfolio blog, which I intentionally use as an online sketchbook to you guys later,


here are some of the laser-cut product I have designed for them.

07/04/2012 / inkkin

Behind the curtain

And the winner is……CURPY!!

me thinking: … ( hmm, I never heard that team’s name before, anyway…)
my teammate: Yeah Yeah!! (give me a High Five!! )
me: What!?

That was what happen at the trade fair event (and a shame that I’m so retard)

Winning a ‘Best Company’, a grand prize from the event at Kingston’s market place is a fantastic feeling. I’m so proud with our Curpyteam. However, this successful milestone has a load of work-hardship behind. This post, I would like to share what happened behind the curtain.

Labor work payment.

Did you think money able to solve everything? Yes… but not everything. ‘Time’ is the major factor that money would be useless. According to the mass-production process due, our book-puller had an intensive tight schedule. Those pictures below showed what had happened on 2 o’clock at the morning before the trade fair.  We might cut the labor cost off but time consuming is what we had paid. From that point, we learned ‘money work’ isn’t only to solve the problems, but also to prevent those possibly issues.


To hit the target, more bullets please

Apparently, every business aim for a big hit, so should we try to squeeze the precise genius idea before proceed. No, that wasn’t Curpy selected strategy. As a designer, my responsible are to make as many designs as possible. I ignored the details, and then create more bullets to aim for many opportunities. I’d say that designer should overcome the fear of being rejected. On the contrast, as team, the more options we have are the clearer picture we can project to the goal. This strategy has been used at the “Logo and Making personality” stage as well.

From the sample sketches drawing below, you may find that many designs were throw away. That was half correct, I’ve plan to show how those sketches become handy later.