Industrial design can add great value to projects across a huge range of fields. In this short series of blogs, we want to explain a little more about the different fields our clients work in, and how we help them. At Neko, we are specialists in industrial design for the urban environment, and one area we work in often is landscape architecture. However, we are not landscape architects. What we do is collaborate with the lead architects to design custom urban elements, including furniture and signage, for their projects.
Landscape architects always have a very clear vision for the outdoor space and experience they want to create. As designers it’s important that we fully understand this vision so we can design elements which complement it. An initial meeting with the project leaders gives us valuable insights into the surroundings, the users, the desired objective, the elements needed, and more.
A small park might need little more than some comfortable seating and some litter bins. A larger space may require more elements such as signage, picnic areas, and bicycle parking. Areas of historical significance may call for an unobtrusive, timeless design aesthetic.
At this initial stage we also meet with the people who will work in the space once it is finished. For example, in the Chapultepec Park project we met with the maintenance team, who gave us essential information about the waste collection methods used in the park. With this in mind, we were able to design litter bins which would work well within this existing system. In the same project, we designed and developed a signage system to help 15 million annual visitors to find their way easily and efficiently around the huge park. For this project we won a SEGD Award in California for “the strength of its conception and its powerful execution” (Jury comments, SEGD).
We also look at visitor flow, an especially important aspect which helps us to determine where key elements should be located and how many of them are needed. For instance, a picnic area is likely to need more litter bins than a small pathway; or a water fountain is likely to be needed near to the running track. This also helps us to avoid the common pitfalls which we unfortunately we see all too often in our public spaces – for example, overflowing bins by the picnic area; or signposts which are half-hidden behind a bush. Often in parks we see people sitting on the ground under shady trees because all the benches have been installed in the hot sun with no shade. These are all problems which are easy to avoid if we consider them at the right stage.
Sometimes we liaise with specialists in different fields who are involved in the project. For an eco-archaeological nature reserve, we worked with biologists and translators to provide bilingual signage including botanical, zoological and archaeological information.
It is our job to make sure that a project has the right elements in the right places to make the space work as intended by the landscape architects. For some projects the vision is to have obvious elements which are easy to see even with huge amounts of visitors; others call for more low-profile designs. It always makes much more sense to install a few well-placed elements which will be used and enjoyed by the public, than many more every few metres which look cluttered and may never be used. This has the added bonus that we can often save our client money by placing only the elements which will really work in the space.
Our goal is to create industrial designs which complement beautiful projects, and we work across a wide range of fields. By recognising that every project is unique, we can take an individual approach to each. We pride ourselves on finding the right solution for each of our clients and can provide any or all stages from concept design to manufacture, completely tailored to your vision.
If you have an upcoming project which could benefit from the input of our award-winning design team, we’d love to hear more about it! Contact us to schedule a no-commitment introductory call and find out how we can work together.