Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Challenging product evolution at Pashley Cycles

Post by Adrian Burns

As well as the advantages of business collaboration, West Midlands companies can also derive benefits by collaborating with local universities. Pashley Cycles, formed one such partnership with MA Product Design students at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (Birmingham City University), later employing one of them full time to help develop accessories and bicycle designs.

Pashley Cycles of Stratford–Upon–Avon is England's longest established manufacturer of hand-built bicycles and tricycles. Looking for a fresh perspective, it invited BIAD’s MA Product Design students to develop accessories that enhanced the Guv’nor, a retro 1930s pathway racing cycle.

Pashley Guvnor bicycle (photo credit: Chris Webb)

Six groups were each given an accessory to consider (water bottles, reflectors, repair kits, mudguards, bells or pumps), before putting these seemingly simple components through a process of product evolution.

The process also involved the groups carrying out historical research of the products and analysis through observational drawing. Each student then proposed four simple and affordable adaptations of an existing product, based upon aesthetics, interactions, cost and alternative/new technology.

Pashley Guvnor mudguard sketch development

“While the aim is to create small but telling product changes, the students produced a detailed body of research and development work in support of their accessories,” said Graham Powell, Course Director.

“This was also an opportunity for Pashley to benefit from a wide ranging and fresh perspective, with regards to its design outputs, as our students represent a very diverse and international cohort with equally different views and ideas on what the company might potentially want to develop. Typically, our collaborative projects are aimed at challenging existing design based assumptions within the company and proposing alternative tangible outcomes for consideration.”

Speaking at an exhibition of the students’ products, Pashley’s Chief Executive Adrian Williams commented “I was blown away by the quality and diversity of the accessory proposals”.

Other BIAD MA Product Design students have since worked with Denby, Richard Burbidge and with Triumph motorcycles on collaborative projects.

The MA Product Design Course is always looking to work with strong brands. Suitable companies can find out more by contacting info@ilfutures.co.uk or 0121 331 7925.