A high chair design story
Product Design Melbourne
Bayly Group embarked on the design and development of a full size and fully adjustable high chair for children. The high chair incorporates a number of customer driven features and was designed for mass retail distribution.
In this interview, Mark Bayly, the director of Bayly Group gives his insights about the project.
Q: How did this project come about?
We were buoyed by our success with the Yvolution Velo/Flippa and Larktale Stroller design. These product concepts were initiated by our team based on our market reviews and user needs research in the childcare / toys market.
We had successfully partnered with both firms on a commercial royalty basis by designing concepts that met a need in the market. We could make deals with these companies that shared the risk and reward in getting the products to market.
We were confident that we could take the same approach with a high chair product.
Q: What was the main problems with competitor products that inspired the creation of the High Chair?
Our research of competitors products in the market indicated that we needed a solution that was a lot more open and less bulky. This was particularly evident in the typical seats that existed in the market place. Most of the seats were styled to look like an arm chair and are moulded plastic products that give a cheap sort of feel. We knew that we wanted to bring the cleaner look that we had used in the design of strollers to the high chair market. The chair is the focus of the product.
Retail pricing in the market is very competitive so we had to achieve what we wanted and hit a retail price of around $130 USD.
Q: How did user input impact the design of the High Chair?
In our user needs evaluation, it became apparent that customers were looking for a high chair they could use in less formal eating arrangements. Many families eat in front of their televisions and not at a dining or kitchen table. It is more likely that they use a coffee table, or not use any table at all. We realised that we needed to be able to bring the seating position of the chair much lower so that the child could still be part of the family group in a typical informal dining setting.
Because we expect the high chair to be used in kitchen, dining and lounge areas, maneuverability became an important attribute. We needed to make sure users could move it easily and quickly between areas and on all different floor surfaces.
Another idea we wanted to incorporate evolved from the combination of ergonomic and user interviews we undertook. We wanted the customer interaction with the child to be uninterrupted. This is why height and inclination adjustments can be made from the front of the chair.
Q: Are we going to see high chair in the market?
Our concept attracted the attention of Evenflo so we incorporated their important input into finalising the design. Eventually Evenflo retreated from the deal for internal business reasons, so our high chair product is still looking for a partner to get it to market.
Q: What are your thoughts on the outcome of this project?
There are some really neat design features in the high chair. By neat, I mean detail design solutions that are clever and refined. The quality of the end product is measured by the quality of the design of these small details. When I talk about clever too, I'm not talking about clever for clever's sake, but clever solutions that have resulted in elegant and simple outcomes.
I'm particularly proud of the way the height adjustment of the chair is achieved. We have used a simplified track system internal to the leg profiles, in order to keep the overall appearance clean and uncluttered.
As is typical with the design of high chairs, the wheels are always a problem. When you try and integrate them into the legs you end up with all sorts of extra components and expense and sometimes a compromise on how easy it is to move the high chair around. I think it is best just to take a minimal approach. They are what they are.
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||Kelly Watts, 29 June 2017