VoltSafe Blog Team – July 26, 2022
VoltSafe’s goal was to change the way we connect to and control power to make it more safe. To do that, they needed to change the way the electrical plug worked. Making the world’s first prongless plug and the proprietary technology that goes along with it was the first step. Next, they needed the plug to look aesthetically pleasing. Most prototypes do not look that great when they first appear on the market. So how does VoltSafe create products that look so slick and cool? The company hired an award-winning Industrial designer.
Meet James Hathway, VoltSafe’s Industrial Design Manager, whose designs look like they were created for a big budget sci- fi movie. Unlike a Hollywood-made prop, his designs are fully functional and created with the user in mind. With a list of awards and recognition so lengthy that it literally fills an entire page (see a full list HERE), including multiple prestigious Red Dot Product Design Awards, he’s basically an Oscar Award Winner of the industrial design world. Let’s get to know James and learn more about what drives both this talent and creative inspiration.
Q: What influenced you to decide on a career in industrial design?
Early on in my education I had always displayed an aptitude towards the design of physical products and a particular curiosity to how products were put together. I took apart a lot of old electronics and appliances when I was a kid. In particular, when I was in high school we took a design field trip to a local company who produced a well known brand of vacuum cleaners in Europe. The process of designing them and then producing them fascinated me and helped to nudge me towards further studies of design at university.
Q: What was it about VoltSafe that made you decide that you had to design products for the company?
Having designed a lot of consumer electronic products over the years for large companies I decided to step away from the large corporate design role and take on something a bit more challenging and fluid in the start-up world
Q: Can you share your process when designing products from concept to prototype?
The first thing any good designer has to do is identify and understand the problem that is trying to be solved. Not every design program is a styling exercise. A good industrial designer is an identifier of problems or opportunities first and foremost. Following this I need to understand where any specific requirements may influence the design and ensure that they are taken into account. The design process then is very iterative. You design a series of concepts, select preferred options and refine. This can be fast or slow but eventually leads to the desired outcome.
Q: Which part of the process is your favourite?
I enjoy getting into the concept development phase, usually this starts from the second concept phase where design concepts are refined from an initial nebulous concept into something more complete.
Q: Where do you draw inspiration from when designing products?
Inspiration for designs comes from many different sources. Sometimes it is a piece of architecture, sometimes another piece of electronics. On one occasion while driving on the highway I had to ask my wife to take a photograph of the car in front of us as there was a small detail on the tail light which I wanted reference to for a design I was working on. Inspiration can come at any time and in almost any situation.
Q : What would you say is your design philosophy?
I have long followed the design ideology that form follows function. This was a core tenet of the Bauhaus design movement.
Q: At what point in your career so far, did you realize that you loved doing what you do, or did you know right from the start?
When I first saw my designs being used by consumers.
Q: You’ve earned many awards and accolades for your outstanding work so far in your career. What has been the proudest moment of your career to this point?
One of my proudest moments was the design of a mobile router product when I was working for NETGEAR. This project was a ground up redesign of the category where for the first time that I could remember the design concept was going to drive the product where normally the products were developed from an engineering driven approach.
Throughout this program we explored new features, technologies and manufacturing processes and managed to deliver a product to the customer which allowed them to break data speed records for the end user reliably.
This product went on to win design awards globally and stands proudly as part of my portfolio of designs.
Q: Which VoltSafe product has been your favourite design and why? (Recommend opening this up since so many applications have yet to be started….. “Of all of the VoltSafe solutions in the works now and still to come, which excites you the most?”
So far my work on the PDU products has been my favourite work. These designs have been less constrained by outside requirements and therefore have allowed for more fluid creative solutions.
Q: If you could share a piece of advice with a young industrial designer or someone thinking about a career in industrial design, what would it be?
A designer must be prepared to take criticism. Design is subjective and everyone will have an opinion on your work. At the end of the day as a designer you get invested in the designs that you produce as they are conceived in our brains and those thoughts are then translated into a physical form through hours of 3D geometry creation and refinement, but you have to be prepared to hear negative feedback if the designs do not resonate well with others.
The main message is that a good designer must have a thick skin and never be too precious about their work.
VoltSafe is fortunate to have James on board this journey to revolutionize the use of the traditional electrical plug. His work shows us that safe, simple and smart can look cool as well. Let’s just come out and say it, his designs make magnetic connectors (plugs) look like the coolest things on the planet. We have no doubt that another award or two are in his future for his designs for VoltSafe. If you are interested in learning more about VoltSafe and taking a look at some of James’ designs, check out our website.
CLOSING SOON – If you’re as inspired by the talent behind James’ designs as we are, VoltSafe is currently running a successful equity crowdfunding campaign to raise capital aimed at driving the company further towards its licensing and commercialization goals. The raise is open to all investors. To learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or become a shareholder and invest now via Frontfundr until July 29, 2022.