Zilco Products

Zilco Products

I signed up for the very first designindustry course held at Canterbury University several months back. This was partly due to meeting Dorenda and the team she has built up around her and being so impressed with their enthusiasm and foresight. It also had a lot to do with agreeing with the principle of Canterbury leading the way for Design excellence not just in Canterbury but for the whole country. Coming from a background of both the Design and Production Management in industry it was a unique way to find out firsthand how the pure design side worked and why it was so critical that Industry understood the process that goes on long before the product reaches the manufacturing stage. The structure of the course was not what I was expecting. Coming from the Industry side where deadlines and cost parameters always play such a critical part in any project and being confronted with no real guidelines on what was to be done other than your own imagination, it was more than a little off-putting. After a full week of this, my misgivings about the time off an already busy work schedule were starting to diminish and the creativity and camaraderie with the other participants was really starting to be a powerful motivating force when attempting to complete our project. At the end of the first week we had a wind up “exhibition” and speech from the Canterbury Manufacturers representative. Before listening to the speech, I was still a little disconcerted about the lack of structure and parameters and the over riding impression that a week like this had been so much fun that it could not be good for you or valuable in a business sense. The speech given galvanised the reason for the course and why it is so important for industry to listen and understand how the design process works and how to get the best out of it.


Simply put, it does not cost a lot more to manufacture a really well designed product but if it captures the imagination of the public, it can be sold for many times the price of the standard items. The trade off between the slightly higher design cost input verses the much higher profit margins and sales volume was so weighted toward well designed items it is difficult to understand why there are so many averagely designed products on the market. Seeing what is coming on to the market nowadays, unless you are right up with the play design-wise, you are already deemed to uncompetitive.


From a personal point of view, the period following the design course has been my most creative in the 5 years of working in a fiercely traditional industry. There is a small voice in the back of my head saying, “Is this design excellent and can I make it better”


If design excellence can make an impact in this field, one can only imagine what it can do in a wider appeal market. Many thanks to Dorenda and her great Team. As Arnie said in the movies, “I’ll be back”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.