"red dot award: design concept" winner’s interview series

The final registration phase of the “red dot award: design concept 2012” has just ended, but the series of interviews with some of the most outstanding winners from last year and updates of their latest design endeavours after their red dot win will be continued.

BearHug is an inflatable vest that provides deep pressure therapy for autistic individuals and has been awarded the “red dot award: design concept 2011”. Its designer, Lisa Fraser, invented this concept as her thesis project in university and explains, what it takes to commercialise a concept.

red dot: What motivated you to design the “BearHug”?
Lisa Fraser: I wanted to design a product that could improve the quality of everyday life for children living with autism. After working in classrooms with autistic children, I discovered weighted vests being used to sooth and calm children with autism. After researching Deep Pressure Therapy and discovering current products being used such as the weighted vest, I was unhappy with the current solutions and wanted to provide something more effective, user-friendly, and delightful to help this user group.

red dot: Why did you choose to submit this design to “red dot award: design concept” before turning it into a commercial product?
Lisa Fraser: When I submitted the design to the red dot design award, I was not set on commercialising the concept. I wanted to win the red dot for a personal achievement that would help me in my own design career. Now, it has helped in both my personal achievement and credibility for my company.

red dot: What are some of the challenges you faced in realising your concept?
Lisa Fraser: Realising the concept has been challenging in every way with a steep learning curve in business without knowing even the basics. As a creative designer, I needed to step outside my comfort zone to also be a business woman among many other titles. Raising funds to realise the product has been the most challenging. It has been quite a journey so far.

red dot: Have there been changes from your original concept to the produced line?
Lisa Fraser: The design has gone through many more iterations since the original BearHug concept. If I would have to guess I would say at least 50 prototypes have been built since BearHug. The core concept of the product has remained, however everything else has changed including the aesthetics, the materials, and the usability. Changes have resulted from much testing, development, and working with end users, our manufacture, and collaborating with other designers.

red dot: We noticed you’ve changed the name of the vest from “BearHug” to “Snug Vest”. Is there any particular reason?
Lisa Fraser: I love the name BearHug. Unfortunately there is a product on the market with the same name that would have Trademark conflict. The Snug Vest is also a great name as it appeals to a broader group as we will have the vest available for adults as well as children in the future. Also “snug” means closely fitted, comfortable, cozy, and secure - all aspects of what the Snug Vest is intended to do!

red dot: How has the response been ever since you’ve launched the product?
Lisa Fraser: We have recently launched our Beta vests to families around the world. Our product is expected to launch in Fall 2012. Parents and therapists are extremely enthusiastic about the product and feedback has been very positive. Many people thank us for developing such a wonderful product as it will improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and many other conditions.

» Further information on Lisa Fraser`s Snug Vest

» Further projects by Lisa Fraser

» Online exhibition of the "red dot award: design concept 2011"