5 Rules on Innovation


spider diagram 2

Design Insider went out to BCFA members to find out what innovation meant to them, the feedback we received was really interesting and a real mix, from these answers we have created a set of rules that showcase what innovative design means

1st rule:

Push the boundaries

‘Make what seems impossible , possible’ is the motto for Johnson Tiles. Creative Director, Darren Clanford states “We don’t follow the trends, we lead them”. This is backed up their determination to constantly create new designs and new style for their tiles.

Head Designer at Gresham, Karl Anderson explains that “Innovation is having the skill to predict or influence a trend rather than being just a follower” going on to say that you cant just look in your market sector but you have to look at what is emerging across all markets throughout the world.

2nd rule:

Keep it simple

I was constantly told this by one of my teachers, “don’t complicate it, keep it simple”, and it is one bit of advise that has always stuck with me. Richard Grohe of Hansgrohe explains why this simple rule can be crucial to good design “An innovative idea is simple, obvious and self-explanatory. Life is complex enough so innovations must be simple and that is what makes their creation so complicated. For Hansgrohe, innovation has always been design driven, because our objective is to achieve something we can seize in our hands and thus understand. For us, design and innovation are about quality, they are a mind-set, a culture”.

3rd rule:

Embrace the new

Katerina McMhaon of Morgan explains how they have embraced 3D printing in their latest development with the RIO chair, Collaboration with 3D specialists Studio Integrate.

For Decca “developing new manufacturing techniques assists in their ability to create truly bespoke items and embrace new finishes” explains Gemma Allman, Director.

But Sue Watkins, Head Designer at Chad Lighting says she sees innovation in ‘finding new ways to use, combine and exploit existing, often low tech means of manufacturing’.

4th rule:

Be sustainable

Probably the most important rule in this list but also the biggest source of inspiration for a lot of designers, looking at sustainable manufacturing techniques but also looking at how people can use to design to live in a more sustainable way. Joanna Lush of Gx Glass explains that they can split their company in to two areas, how they can source better and look at ‘fresh ways to manufacture’ and for their customers its about ‘finding new, exciting products and services that can help them to create cutting edge sustainable environments’.

Oliver Heath is well known for his biophilic design concepts, working with Interface to create products that focus on well-being  for the user, being sustainable is a huge part of this as he explains “by combining environmentally efficient design with a human centred approach we can create buildings that are as good for the environment as they are for the people that live and work in them”.

For me this is encompassed by the aspiration for the built environment to become “restorative”.

5th rule:

Improve the experience

An innovative idea has always got to have the end users as the main focus, design needs to be user friendly and make the experience a good experience for the user. Robert Chelsom of Chelsom Lighting explains “it is not about design for design’s sake, it needs to be about design to make the space or user experience better”. For Chelsom this could be improving the ambiance of a space or simply enhancing the functionality of a product by embracing new technology.

And always Create something that inspires.


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
View all posts by Alys Bryan →