1 December 2017
Many Massey hands make light work, could be an adage for baby buggy company, phil&teds.
From the lower case letters used in the company name to the tiny tot-sized specifications required for its particular market, it’s all about focusing on the little ones in this world and helping parents adapt and survive the crazy world of parenting.
And when the next baby buggy comes rolling off the assembly line, the work of graduates from different design disciplines within Massey University will roll with it.
[phil&teds' Massey University design graduates - from left - Alisa McGrath, Rosie Sievers, Harry Henriksen, Alex Whitney, Allanah Beytagh, Evarn Flaunty, Jane Hills, Caitlin Begg.]
The international company, based in Wellington, is renowned for its range of innovative juvenile products and merino clothing for its namesake, Mountain Buggy and Mokopuna brands. Eight of the company’s designers and product marketers are past participants at the University’s end-of-year Exposure exhibition. The company has become a proven nursery for graduates from Massey’s School of Design to progress their creative careers.
In 2015, phil&teds and Mountain Buggy won three Red Dot awards - internationally acclaimed quality seals for the best design innovations across all industries. The graduates all played an integral role in achieving the awards, having applied their knowledge to many facets of the production process; from concept and textile design, to industrial and visual communication design, as well as photography and marketing of the finished product.
Like all top designs, its creators are not resting on their laurels. Industrial designer and Massey graduate, Evarn Flaunty, is looking to refine and fine-tune the company’s products to be better than ever. A goal he describes as always trying to make the product simpler and easier for the customer to use.
“A buggy is probably one of the most important purchases new mums and dads can make, which is why we design - be it industrial, textile or through visual communication - not just for the child who will sit in it, but the proud parents pushing their offspring.”
Massey graduate and textile designer Jane Hills, agrees: “purchasing a buggy is no longer just about practicality, with many parents looking to retain a sense of self through style.
“My goal is to really push the boundaries and revolutionise the fabrics and prints for the company’s brands - ensuring our products are fashion forward and appeal to a wide audience, both female and male.”
Mountain Buggy’s latest 2018 Chinese-zodiac inspired print, silhouettes, illustrates this.
“In a first for the company, holographic textiles and effects were employed, creating a unique print that is accentuated when exposed to a direct light source.”
Hills notes the result is an interactive art piece: “as you move around the buggy, you experience the changing print with light. Function and aesthetics working hand in hand.”
Company quality assurance global manager, Alex Whitney, notes that the diversity offered at Massey and the sheer variety of courses available has seen the design degree “morph” to ensure its graduates emerge with skills that aren’t just design related.
“There are opportunities out there and design is a way to access those opportunities. You are learning how to think, how to deal with a customer and take a conceptual idea and turn it into reality. It’s all powerful stuff that translates well across roles and organisations.”
The pioneering nature at phil&teds encourages heads to take on challenges in other parts of the business outside their roles as well. Industrial design graduate, now product marketer, Caitlin Begg is a case in point. Along with having her own set marketing portfolio, she put her industrial design degree to use, working closely with the design team on award-winning baby carrier, juno.
“Having a background in industrial design proved key when it came to initial market research for the product. Analysing what’s currently in the market, what features caregivers are drawn to, and then working closely with Evarn and Jane to determine how we can apply these elements to juno - while at the same time making these features simpler, better and more aesthetically pleasing for parents.
“This was a real highlight, as was the acknowledgement from industry when juno won best carrier at the world renowned Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association innovation awards.
“In a similar fashion to a group project at Massey, each member of the team brings their skills to the fore,” says Caitlin.
From the initial stages of vision and conceptualisation, to when the product is presented to market, the collaborative approach that phil&teds employs is guided by a 14-step development loop.
In a way, for the Massey graduate employees of phil&teds, it completes a design cycle first explored for some at the university very early in the 2000s.