Good Design Awards: How Smart Design Shaped the Award-Winning Studio Collection
The Life Fitness Studio Collection wasn't created specifically to win awards. It was designed to be easy for fitness facilities and exercisers to use. Nevertheless, we're thrilled with the fact that the Studio Collection Dumbbell Pack earned a 2018 Good Design Award in the Sports-Recreation category.
Every year since 1950, the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and Metropolitan Arts Press Ltd. has presented the Good Design Awards. Life Fitness has collected more than a few mentions over the past decade. Insignia Series selectorized equipment, the FlexStrider Trainer, PowerMill Climber, Lifecycle and Discover tablet console have all garnered recent awards.
There are reasons why we at Life Fitness create products the way that we do. Thoughtful design was a big part of the entire Studio Collection, and we asked our lead industrial designer, Rad Arceta, to answer questions about how the concept and execution of the collection came to fruition.
How do you get inspired for new product innovations?
New product innovations come from the desire to make products more useful, intuitive, productive and helpful to both the customers that buy our equipment as well as the users that actually use the equipment.
Product innovations are new solutions that solve unmet user needs and pain points. Inspirations can come from pretty much anywhere. We like to find some of our inspiration by looking at clever solutions to unrelated problems outside the fitness industry and combining or adapting them to solve the specific problem at hand.
What is your design philosophy?
The design of products must be instinctively useful. Because of human nature, we tend to skip instruction manuals and go straight to using the product. A well-designed object has the instructions on how to use it designed into the form, graphics, interface and colors of the product.
The sign of a well-designed product is when the user interacts seamlessly with the product without giving a second thought to the use of it because it was designed as intended for the user.
If the user cognitively recognizes positive aspects of a design, that is a clear sign that the product has a distinct feature or characteristic that is better and different than what the user has previously experienced on other products. If the user notices negative aspects of the product while using it, for example, “these handles are too small for my hands” or “how do you turn this off,” then it is evident that the design of the product has not been optimized.
What inspired the color choices for the Studio Collection accessories?
The colors were selected primarily for the studio environment for which these collections will ultimately reside. To accomplish this, we used softer, lighter base colors complimented by vibrant accent colors for a more approachable and less intimidating overall feel. The various accent colors all work together to mimic the playfulness and visual energy that is present in the activities and environments that these accessories are used for.
What inspired the physical design nuances of the Studio Collection accessories?
We wanted the product aesthetics to convey movement and energy even when the accessories are not being used, which is accomplished with the use of diverging lines, dynamic forms and fluid arcs. We also wanted to reinforce the visual brand language of Life Fitness throughout the entire line. You can easily find distinct signature design elements purposefully used on one accessory to another to help cohesively pull the collection together visually.
What are you proud of in terms of the Studio Collection design?
I am most excited about the Studio Collection kettlebell design.
With the kettlebells on the market that we evaluated, you cannot perform exercises where the forearm rests against the kettlebell with the proper form to do the exercise correctly. These competitive “ergonomic” kettlebells have shapes that force the users to bend the wrist to accommodate the forearm. As a result, executing these exercises with a bent wrist can possibly cause injury to the user.
Life Fitness patented a design that allows the kettlebell to rest against the user’s forearm comfortably while maintaining proper form with a straight wrist. The appropriate handle lengths and sloped sides are at the proper angle to allow the user to maintain a straight wrist during kettlebell exercises such as snatches and windmills.
What is the most important thing to remember when designing a new product?
Empathy is the path to thoughtful design. As long as you have a deep understanding of the user as well as the environment that the product will be used in, this overall awareness is the critical ingredient that will ultimately lead to a thoughtful design solution.