Future Factory is a Mumbai based product design company, founded in 1996 by Geetikha SK and Jashish Kambli. It was started as a small firm to complement design talent with technology, business, and development capabilities. In one of the interviews when asked about the importance of design for businesses, Kambli said, “Design can help build business value in many ways. It can increase quality, increase marketability, improve sourcing, enhance aesthetics, improve functionality, reduce cost, and so on.” The company’s way of working is based on six vital principles, namely:
- Human-Centered Design – putting the user in the center for better solutions
- Thinkers and Doers – taking the risk out of design and innovation
- Generative/Iterative Process – build through a process of trial and error
- Creative and Analytic – bringing rigor and reliability to the imagination
- Emotional and Functional – solutions that drive a positive user experience
- Design Sells – the true value of innovation and design lies in its successful adoption
Future Factory designers were amongst the first companies in India to win the prestigious “Red Dot” and “INSA” Awards in 2008, widely recognized in Europe and the US. Talent and Technology form an important part of the firm’s growth along with laying stress on the feedback and deeply understanding the customer preferences. It was because of such unique services that the company celebrated the success of its 100th product in the year 2012. Though started in Mumbai, they now have offices in Bangalore and Singapore as well. Some of the designs of the most innovative products by them are listed below:
1. Harbauer 2.0 (H2.0) | Future Factory
One of the most eccentric products designed by the firm which also won the Silver Design Award in 2008 is the H2.0, a water ATM for schools and communities. It uses an arsenic removal technology to address the serious health hazard prevailing in the Indian Ganges delta, though the design considerations were complex. The design language of ‘serious play’ combines technology with play and tempering its authoritative power. Another aspect is that it has been designed to run on renewable energy as well for better reliability.
Stacket is an innovation that combines convenience with nesting of a conventional bucket with the stack-ability of the traditional Indian ‘Matka’. With the increasing demand for potable water and the source becoming scarcer and more precious, there are communities especially in India which get running water for less than an hour a day. To find an appropriate solution to this problem, the designers spent months with families to understand the situation deeply. This design allowed for thrice the storage capacity for every square foot of space and changed the way water was managed by women at home. Moreover, the square form is more space-efficient in comparison to the conventional circular bucket and also sits easily against the body while carrying, thus, reducing body fatigue and improving ergonomics.
3. iClean | Future Factory
At the end of 2017, a famous vacuum cleaning company, Eureka Forbes, was looking for a company to redesign its best-selling products. The next generation of vacuum cleaners that Eureka Forbes needed was to bring ergonomics and a thoughtful design for a durable and high-performance product. The handle was designed for easier movement while cleaning, and for carrying it to different places. Another feature added is the quick release button that allows the changing of dust bags easier and hassle-free, unlike before. The product has been designed with the correct proportions and weight for good performance.
With the increasing demand for front-loaded washers, there was a need to infuse a fresh design for the top-loaded category, to compete in the marketplace. The challenge faced by the design team was not only to make it stand out in the market but also to deliver a first in sense of functionality. To achieve a fresh design, the team first researched the entire user journey for the category of laundry by talking to numerous women and what they look for in a washing product. This helped them to identify opportunities that were of value to the user. Auriga’s compelling idea provided support especially for the last stage of washing i.e. drying. This was achieved by closely fitting the tray within the lead assembly, a feature new to the laundry industry. It also featured easy access, easy to use, and well-styled product.
5. Aquaguard Classic+ | Future Factory
The world’s first in-wall water purifier designed by Future Factory called the Classic+ won 2 prestigious awards, namely, the Red Dot Award and A’ Design Award in 2018. The product is a modern interpretation of the 21-year old water purifier design of the Aquaguard brand. It supports a mineral guard that increases the calcium and magnesium mineral levels to promote a healthier lifestyle. The design is made of unibody plastic, making it recycle friendly and discourages surplus wastage. The functional components are mounted on the rear casing that goes inside the wall, thus, giving the front a sleek and futuristic aesthetic. This helps in saving space, necessary in the Indian household, and showcases the aspiration of an upscale lifestyle, usually offered by high-end appliances. Along with its minimalistic form, it also features a one-point operation, making it easier for the user.
6. Kangaro Nowa
Kangaro represents one of the strongest stationery brands in Asia, however, it held a weaker position in European markets and was looking to strengthen its position with the help of Future Factory. In Europe, the use of staplers is quite different depending on the context of use and hence it became critical to design for specific use functions ergonomically. The contemporary, iconic design of the Nowa stapler maintains its visual coherence across sizes and materials. The team’s main objective was to elevate the stapler to the status of a lifestyle product, and not just another stationary product. This new form features a continuous curved surface, which helps in providing a smooth and gentle grip to the user’s hand, especially in Europe. The base also incorporates a convenient rotating anvil, that helps to switch between stapling and pinning, thus offering enhanced functionality.
7. New York Tiffany Ceiling Fan
The idea of this design was to enhance the value of the ceiling fan product using a strong user hook. The design sensibility of the fan is themed around the city of New York, which is home to some of the finest examples of modern architecture. It also aims to find the right interpretation of the spectacular modern aesthetic to appeal to the expectations of current generations. The Tiffany fan comes with an in-built BLDC motor, making it more energy-efficient. This motor has a power-saving advantage compared to earlier fan motors in India. Another added feature is that the fan operates via a remote-control system, making it more convenient for the user.
8. ChotuKool Refrigerator
In India, having a bigger and better refrigerator signals social status, and yet only about 8 out of 100 rural homes own one. This is mainly due to the high costs, poor electricity supply to their region, and space constraints in homes. The Godrej brand wanted design solutions to help the low-income communities living in remote areas and deliver pride of ownership with the help of Future Factory. The team worked with the breakthrough solid-state thermoelectric technology to craft a disruptive design for such communities. In the functional aspect, the top lid opens in the horizontal format, allowing the cold air to be retained inside thus, preventing the loss of cool air every time the lid is opened. For rural consumers, its 40 liters storage allows for storing milk, curd, and vegetables as these families believe in cooking fresh daily and storing little. The ChotuKool has technology that helps it to run up to 2-3 hours in the absence of electricity.
9. Beep Security
In today’s world, security has become even more vital and demands perfection and dominance. Hence, a special focus is required for the handheld detectors being used mostly in hotel lobbies, entry of malls, and other hospitality venues accustomed to providing high levels of user experience. The ‘Beep’ is designed to encase high performance within the sheath of reassurance, as mentioned by the design team. Its futuristic fluid form extends from the handle to the tilted ring where the sensors are located. To indicate the clearance, a clear ‘beep’ sound can be heard accompanied by a blue light that emanates from within the ring.
10. MR Security Equipment | Future Factory
MR types of equipment are well known in the category of industrial security. These machines though functionally superior and offer high performance, yet the design lacked good quality. Thus, it gave a rise to the need to offer the machines a facelift to positively impact the business. The team at Future Factory decided to cover a broader scope, from the manufacturing process to the machine design, to create a real impact in the market. The work started by first tearing down the existing products and then rebuilding the product architecture. The result was a better-designed product followed by a design re-engineering exercise, also revamping current processes. Within a year, internal construction, inventory management, pricing, and perceived quality, everything took a giant leap, which further raised the product’s revenue to an unprecedented level.