Thinking Outside the Square: Creating Value and Emotion in Ceramic Tiles through Design Led Innovation

By Janet Coulter and Dennis McKeag.

Published by The International Journal of Designed Objects

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper describes the design-led principles used to develop innovative, new products within the ceramic tile industry. It details how a traditional business model in a family-run company, was transformed into an ‘innovation strategy’ through design research. It describes how design principles from the textile industry transferred to ceramic tile design to develop innovative new products. The paper outlines the significance of creating value and emotion in ceramic tiles through aesthetics pertinent to shape, form, colour, pattern and crucially tactility. Two case studies demonstrated these strategies, which included attaching ‘emotional value’ to products, and allowed the Company to use the outcomes of the research to expand their product portfolio and achieve greater penetration into existing markets and gain access to new markets.

Keywords: Design-Led Innovation, Emotional Value, Creativity, Tactility, Surface Design, Product Innovation

The International Journal of Designed Objects, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.31-42. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 467.892KB).

Janet Coulter

Senior Lecturer, Textiles & Fashion Apparel Design Coordinator Academic Enterprise - Faculty of Art, Design and the Built, Environment, University of Ulster, Belfast, Co Antrim, UK

Janet Coulter is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ulster and specialises in innovative design solutions for the wider Textiles & Fashion industry. Ms. Coulter is from an industrial background and spent the early part of her career working in Paris, as an International Trend and Design Researcher, in the area of future intelligence and creative design tools for the global market. She went on to spend time with a Design House in London, before returning to Northern Ireland to take up a position as a design manager in a manufacturing based company, where she managed design portfolios for a number of large UK based retailers and corporate organisations. Ms. Coulter joined the University of Ulster in 1999, to lecture in Fashion and Textiles Design. Her research has been based around product innovation, most recently, specialising in enhanced design and shaping protective body armour for females. She also develops design solutions for protection in sportswear for contact sports and has a sound of knowledge in performance and technical textiles. Ms. Coulter has successfully led a number of technology transfer programmes over recent years within these areas. She also holds the position of Faculty co-ordinator for Academic Enterprise, within the Faculty of Art, Design and The Built Environment at University of Ulster, with a remit for forging and developing industrial collaborations between the Faculty and the creative industries.

Dennis McKeag

Professor, School of Engineering, University of Ulster, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, UK

Professor McKeag specialises in innovation and is the leading UK academic recipient of Technology Transfer Grants. Professor McKeag works with large and small companies in product and process innovation. The early part of his career was spent as a research and development engineer in the aerospace industry. Thereafter he moved to The University of Limerick whre he was responsible for BA/BSc Industrial Design programmes and taught Engineering Science. He moved to Engineering department of The University of Ulster assuming responsibility for design, and after 7 years was transferred to The Faculty of Art and Design, and helped the associated research Institute achieve grade 5 status in the RAE and number 1 status in the UK in their category. After 15 years he returned to Engineering and for the past five years has been developing industry led technology transfer programmes. He has won and been associated with a number of major awards including Best Managed Large Company in Britain Award in 1995 with Takata Corporation, National Innovation Award for Large Companies in association with RFD in 1997, and was awarded the Business Fellowship in 2003.