Nixon Blaze

Posted by on Jan 31, 2011 | No Comments

Creating new product lines for an existing brand.

Project Brief
Time: 5 Weeks | Work Force: 3 Person Team
Role: Lead Designer

This project has two major components. The first was to design a hand held mixer that followed the brand language of a company that had nothing to do with kitchen or home appliances. The second was to develop a design solution for the human factors problems posed by the use of a hand held mixer.

The two major components were addressed by two different classes, Studio 1 focused on the form, while Human Factors focused on understanding an overcoming the ergonomic concerns of the product.

The company we chose to use for our brand language was Nixon. Nixon was picked because of an edgy attitude and consideration for individuality that we ourselves much appreciated.

Once the brand was chosen, we could begin the visual design process. In the 5-week period that encompassed this project, the majority of the time was devoted to sketching and form exploration. Only after we had a good base of expertise with form for the Nixon brand could we continue on to foam models, CAD models, and the final working prototype.

The Brand
Although the Nixon brand is very diverse, their products are heavily based on forms common in the 1970s. Changes in form are subtle and are executed in a refined manner.

Material chamfering, embossing, engraving, and relief are common ways Nixon chooses to stylize their products through shape.

Form Exploration
The first part of creating our mixer’s form was sketching. We constantly referred to branding and inspiration boards to help keep us on track with the Nixon brand language.

After we established the form on paper we moved to CAD to explore surface detailing and producing variations of the designs.

Anthropometric testing
While the visual design work progressed in Studio 1 the human factors team worked to find solutions to the human needs of the product. We started by preforming competitive analysis of current mixers. We then moved on to designing our own anthropometric test to establish users range of motion and endurance.

Our Solution
We came to the realization that the problem with hand held mixers was the weight of the device and not the design of the handle, so rather then making incremental improvements to the handle we decided to tackle the problem at the source and designed a dynamic stand that by using a recurve shape eliminate the weight of the mixer while allowing for full range of motion and the ability to mix in any bowl the user would choose.

Validation Testing
After going through three rounds of iteration and testing on the dynamic stand we found a local baker and had them use the final prototype over the course a day. The verdict at the end of a day of use was… “We love it. After I learned to trust the stand, it did all the work. All I needed to do was guide it.”

While engineering and testing the dynamic stand we also worked toward  designing a full family of mixer attachments. Including an immersion blender and a food processor.

Prototype Production
We chose to build the model by creating a serial form that stacked to create the finished product, best illustrated by the cardboard mockup below.

To do this we utilized a laser cutter, acrylic paneling, and plastic welding compound. This method facilitated creating precision pieces, allowing attachments to mate with the mixer body.

Final Prototype
A working prototype was produced and used to make brownies which were served during the final critique of our mixer design.

What this project means to me
This was a great project for me. It encouraged me and my teammates to not only focus on exploring shapes and forms, but also bring elements of human factors and user testing into the design process, allowing us to mimic a process and solution closer to one which may occur in the real world.

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