At 3M, design is just not a creative manifestation of the product’s outlook, but it is a holistic approach which includes its product, brand, graphic and interactive facets. In an email interview with Jaishankar Jayaramiah of Automotive Lead, Eric Quint, VP & Chief Design Officer of 3M shares more details.
How would you describe 3M’s design concept?
Our philosophy is to design meaningful customer experiences and enrich our innovation through collaborative creativity across business disciplines. The next big idea will come naturally from a creative collision of many smaller ideas that build upon each other. This is what design thinking is all about – integrating diverse perspectives to ensure the outcome is not just about reaching the finish line, but also about the meaningful achievement of purpose that will make tomorrow better than today. Having a creative space where designers collaborate is instrumental in driving our design philosophy in an engaging and inspiring way.
You have opened design studio in Bangalore a year ago. Can you talk about how important is the Indian market for you as compared to other overseas markets?
Demand for cultural relevance has raised the stakes for businesses to compete and succeed globally, and that’s the sweet spot for design to maximize its impact. Creative skillsets and empathy throughout our design activities across the spectrum of markets and regions will help to “humanize” our technologies for specific markets like India. The focus on design for the Indian market allows us to engage closely with local OEM designers, partners and policy makers to explore and demonstrate the impact of 3M technologies on end users. For example, partnering with Indian Railways or the smart city initiative allowed 3M to use our solutions to support bigger challenges across regions.
What are the major automotive related works that have been carried out in the Bangalore studio?
An important aspect of our engagement with OEMs is the ‘Design Meets Design’ initiative where we work closely with designers at our customers side to inspire them on new possibilities using 3M materials and then exploring future opportunities to partner. This allows designers to have a collaborative approach to problem solving that pushes the envelope on user experience and automotive styling. Designers use global trend studies and local market insights to identify priority areas for India, imagine new solutions for vehicles and develop visual identity concepts for future vehicles using 3M materials. While we help OEMs enhance their product offerings and competitive positioning using premium films for both interior and exterior applications, we also provide user vehicle personalization solutions through body-wraps and graphics.
India is now moving towards electric vehicles as the government has been encouraging it. Please tell us if you have any options for electric powertrain and its benefits?
We’re working with established transportation players and startups across India on material solutions uniquely suited to the market in India. In addition to the 4 wheel opportunities we are focused on the 2 and 3 wheel markets as well as the mass transit solutions.
Overall almost all OEMs are looking for light weight vehicles in order to increase the mileage and reduce emission. Any material solutions that can help 3M in this segment?
3M offers materials that support in the light weighting of vehicles, material solutions include: glass bubbles, structural adhesives to help reduce weight for electric vehicles as well as traditionally powered vehicles by conventional internal combustion engines.
Can you mention some of your major automotive customers globally and in India. If you wish you can also mention a few specific designs done for OEMs?
We can’t speakgenerally about our customers and theirspecific activities for confidentiality reasons. As a trusted partner with 100 years of experience enabling solutions for automotive we are excited about the innovations and changes that happen at the moment in this industry. The majority– 32- of our 46 technology platforms enable future developments in automotive in areas such as: enhancing the immersive user experience, maximizing battery performance and safety, optimizing powertrain systems and enabling the advanced sensor ecosystem to support autonomous driving.
In what way you are using Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things concepts in your design works?
Our world is rapidly getting more connected including automotive solutions. The customer expects connectivity irrespective of time and place. Integral digital and physical solutions are interesting both for customers and business because they create new value and can make automotive safer and driving more predictable. The number of new design capabilities such as user experience and service design are growing to develop IoT solutions that are intuitive to use and meaningful. We use artificial intelligence to learn about the predictability of user behavior and self-learning systems. Our data science and business analytics capabilities are advancing, and combined with design it will give great opportunities to develop smart solutions.
Other than automotive, which are other sectors for which 3M offers design services?
We elevate design and creativity as a global competitive platform across the enterprise to drive innovation and create relevant brand experiences for both B2C and B2B. We are building Design integrated across the regions, business groups and markets that 3M serves, including healthcare, electronics, consumer, personal safety and industrial markets.
What is the size of your workforce in Bangalore design studio and how it is expected to grow in numbers in the next five years?
We continue to expand talent and the number of designers across our design studios around the world. It is important to have substantial critical mass in design to support the wide range of market activities with the appropriate design disciplines. Our ambition is to continue to grow and invest in our design capabilities in India at our Bangalore studio to a level that it is able to capture the value of the Indian market. We only just started bringing design to India and our ambitions contribute to transform overtime from “Make for India” to “Create by India”.