Graduates 2018: Benjamin Taylor: Product Design

I’m from an engineering background and spent most of my school days studying sciences and material engineering.

I found that most engineers didn’t take into account how people use products, and so ignored some fairly basic design changes that could make what they invent so much better. I saw this as a prime opportunity to start designing practical and useful products, with the users at the centre.

My influences tend to be from minimalist and modernist design movements and creating a product with complex internals, but minimal and understandable interactions is the pinnacle of great design in my opinion. I enjoy following modern design consultancies, the likes of Seymour Powell and Ideo, but similarly, enjoy looking back to Dieter Ram’s influence and the fathers of modern design.2.

Sketch of inhalor

Can you tell us about your final year project?

My final year project aims to combat the UK smoking cessation issue from a completely new approach. Research shows that many of those seeking to quit smoking fail to do so even with the help of NHS treatments. In fact over 300,000 patients signed up to NHS treatment in 2016 but only 112,823 were able to fully kick the habit. The reasons for failure are numerous, and the government’s efforts to “scare” smokers away from the habit have failed regularly due to their negativity. People seek Nicotine as a mood booster and as stress relief, so gross images on packs that designed to make users feel guilty, often just drive them to smoke more instead. A more positive and supportive approach is required to fix the problem. 

Exhale is a novel smart nicotine inhaler, designed to intrigue and draw in those seeking a tobacco-free lifestyle, with its futuristic and medical based aesthetic. It seeks to bridge the gap between E-Cigarettes and Nicotine Replacement Therapy. Exhale offers a smokeless, vapourless alternative that can give high levels of nicotine satisfaction throughout the day in a positive manner. The novel technology within Exhale is its ability to track and advise the user on their Nicotine intakes when inhaling through the device, allowing greater awareness and control of the step-down cessation process via a paired application.

How did you find studying product design at Brighton?

The Product Design course in Brighton has been instrumental in finding the direction I want to take. It’s a course that doesn’t spoon feed information to you or ask you to simply remember facts to regurgitate in exams. Instead, the course teaches you how to self-learn and become an original designer. It teaches you best use techniques, but doesn’t force you into a creative box, and ultimately prepares you for the industry. I found that nearly everyone on our course ends with an entrepreneur attitude, mainly because we are taught everything from research to engineering, and business. When a graduate has the ability to think so broadly and consider all aspects of a product’s launch, I think it makes us highly placeable in most creative industries. The course also allowed me and some other designers to create a really successful social enterprise, creating devices to help paralysed individuals to paint, for which we have won awards and funding. The university has supported us through that sideline really well, I’m very grateful.

I have learnt to control my time and consider the purpose of my products more. Sometimes innovation for the sake of innovation is good, but when you enter the business environment, products need to be designed with a market and user in mind. I have found myself researching more and more into what people truly want, need, and desire – and using the key findings to create products that are truly sellable.

What are your plans after graduating?

After graduation, I’ll be looking to enter the industry as quickly as I can! I found that on my placement year, I enjoyed the working life far more than the student life, and will be looking to work with a business that I feel I can truly make a difference within. Ideally, continuing on from this year’s project, I’ll look to work on products that can reduce harm to individuals, or simply offer a more positive influence on their lives. I have a passion for accessible design, and so in the future, I hope to design for those that need help most. I’ve been successfully running my own graphic design business, and social enterprises for a couple of years now, and if I have the time, would like to further my own network too.

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