Can design save the industry?

To the question that a journalist from the Entreprendre editorial staff asked him in April 2016, namely “can all companies integrate design as a lever for development?” “

“Yes!” Replied without hesitation Anne-Marie Boutin, president of the APCI (Agency for the promotion of industrial creation). “And even, they must! “. Based on a study by the Danish Design Council, Anne-Marie Boutin recalled that companies which integrate design are both more innovative and more efficient. Will it be the same after the global health and economic crisis we are going through? Have French manufacturers made up for the delay observed 4 years ago and adopted industrial design to regain market share?

These are the challenges that loom on the horizon of a troubled and uncertain period. Also, it seemed essential to us to underline the positive perspectives offered by design and simulation solutions in the design of the products of the future. Indeed, studies confirm it, companies which are at the top of design (the 25% most advanced in this field) have performances twice the average of the others, in particular in growth of turnover and remuneration. shareholders (according to a report published by Mc Kinsey in October 2018). This performance gain is directly inspired by “Lean Start-Up” which made the methods of testing in prototype mode and continuous iteration popular. And to test and iterate, what better way than simulation?

These methods are also at the heart of innovation in France. So, if, as Anne-Marie Boutin pointed out, “everyone knows the example of Décathlon, whose design centers are decentralized to the places where sport is practiced, which allows the brand to understand the constraints of sales products and the designer to be relevant in his conception ”, the examples of French industrial successes are numerous and deserve to be highlighted.

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But what do designers think? Are they still considered and what is their place in today’s society?

“I think that industrial design has a social vocation: not to be fashionable and to target as many people as possible, with industrial series to produce products accessible to all. These products must provide long-lasting, sustainable services and, at the end of the cycle, be recyclable. All these components of the product, the design takes them into account and tries to implement them. »Declared Jacques Noël, French designer (author of« Design imposture », who started alongside Roger Tallon and worked for the brands SEB, Air Liquide, RATP or Look, for example).

Another point of view, another vision of the world with the famous French designer Matali Crasset, who answered a question on the influence of contemporary artists on his research and his work in an interview for Slash Magazine,: “One of my engines is curiosity. Undoubtedly, before art, the social sciences are for me a rich material. Each project is an opportunity to deepen knowledge. Marc Augé, in a text, described me as a design anthropologist, it is a definition through which I recognize myself. My design goes through the keen observation of life and scenarios. “

So does design find its balance between a movement of artistic inspiration or, on the contrary, a major development asset for the industrial world? Why are our young graduates in industrial design recruited all over the world from Hong Kong to Silicon Valley?

“Being French, but having also studied Italian and Scandinavian design, gives me cultural assets that are worth a lot on the market,” explains Selma Durand, for example, recruited by the New York studio IDEO.

Another French designer, Inès Le Bihan, 26, has moved onto the international design scene. In 2014, after her training at the Nantes-Atlantique School of Design, Inès was identified as one of the most talented young inventors by James Dyson himself.

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She now lives in Mountain View, hired by the HTC brand, and works for Huami, a Chinese fitness brand. “In Silicon Valley, French designers are in great demand. The brands installed here are ready to take design risks to come out with crazy products, so there is an emulation. “

But beyond culture, creative talent, what are the working tools of designers? Why have they become strong supporters of the simulation? Isn’t this also the best way to reduce the risks?

Feedback on advances in industrial design: simulation to validate the creative experience!

Constrained by both time and financial resources, the industrial designer uses digital simulation software, such as Solidworks for example. Indeed, the digital simulation guarantees a better taking into account and easier and more fluid modifications of the parameters of the product and of the environment in which it operates. This makes it easier to test innovations and concepts and optimize them by making savings on the materials used. Later, we can also optimize the manufacturing processes and the lifespan of the products. Instead of resorting to prototypes for physical scenarios, the use of simulation thus saves time and money.

The analysis of a product or even of a manufacturing process, can concentrate the research on a single aspect, a single physical behavior in many simulations. The designer may need a quick check. But getting closer to the realistic simulation, the expert is then able to carry out complex analyzes, to make fewer assumptions, for more robust and reliable results which really represent the behavior of the products. The simulation in this case becomes a full-fledged prototype and achieves optimal performance.

But beyond the technical performance provided by digital simulation solutions, the benefits are also measured in the collaboration between the teams (designers, engineers, technicians, etc.) and by their increase in skills. Not that everyone becomes a product designer, or creator of innovation, but because simulation makes all of everyone’s actions concrete. Design then takes on a transversal and even social dimension in the company, as claimed by Jacques Noël.

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In a time of uncertainty, the creative ambition of industrial societies must not waver. Innovation must, on the contrary, enable them to move forward and project their customers towards new experiences. Reaching new horizons faster and more efficiently usually requires redefining the objects, the environments in which we will evolve tomorrow, in order to move on to another era, another vision of the world. Design is therefore a way of envisioning the future, without renouncing culture, nor a certain approach to beauty, but being totally focused on a better experience for the good of the community.

We can bet that French manufacturers will be keen to meet the challenges that await them and which will make our nation a leader in innovation!


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SOLIDWORKS design software is as simple as it is powerful. It enables companies to realize their visions and reach markets around the world. SOLIDWORKS® solutions focus on how you work every day, with an intuitive and integrated 3D design environment that covers all aspects of product development and helps maximize your design and engineering productivity. Over 2 million designers and engineers around the world use SOLIDWORKS to bring their designs to life, from fun gadgets to innovations for a better future.


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