2017 Wrap up

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The team at Clandestine Design Group had a massive 2017 and took some well-deserved weeks off before kicking things off again in 2018. The exciting part for our design industry is that the need and interest in industrial design services just keeps going on an upwards trajectory and it doesn't seem to be slowing down. Gone are the days of knocking on every door and once open needing to educate clients about what industrial design is and the value it can bring!

It’s encouraging to see that the markets maturity and interest in design is increasing and the pie of potential work is getting bigger. From our perspective 2017 has allowed us to develop our team and engagement models to the perfect size and balance of skills-sets. These attributes allow us to work with both ends of the client spectrum from some of Australia’s largest organisations with design led innovation and business transformation projects down to small businesses and start-ups, guiding them on their journey to new product development success. 

We have been fortunate enough to work with some local innovation incubators and even on some major projects that benefit the regional parts of the country. Given our Design Director Neil Davidson’s upbringing in the Darling Downs he understands that much-needed process improvements can reduce the back-breaking demands on our primary producers - so these projects have been both valuable to Australian Agri-tech and important personally.

Much of what we work on is covert and cannot be shared until commercially released however some project in the public domain we can review from the last year cover industries including food production, four-wheel driving accessories and med tech consumer electronics. From an innovation management perspective it is good to see that these highlighted projects cover Extend and Defend market share, New to Us and New to World market innovation outcomes. It is also nice to see that these profile projects are all Queensland based success stories. 

1. MAXTRAX’s Mk3 SEMA win

In November 2017 the MAXTRAX team, won three SEMA Global Media Product Awards, at the biggest US and possible global trade shows for vehicle and aftermarket manufacturers. This is an amazing result and it shows that the quality and design of the MAXTRAX stood out against the more than 3000 trade competitors who all vied for only 16 award categories.

SEMA provided the perfect place to launch three new products of the MAXTRAX portfolio to a global audience. The Mini and Jack Base were developed outside of CDG however the new Mk3 version has been collaboratively developed by MAXTRAX and CDG to further extend and defend their market position. Their strong position was established by the category creating Mk1 and expanded on and solidified by the hugely successful current Mk2 product. 

The Mini is perfect for the small SUV, Quad or SxS markets in off road applications however it has proven in demand for use by car owners trying to get their cars out of snowed in parks. The Jack Base is a simple and smart product addition to the product family. Built on the Mini product base its underside has been cored out to create a stable weight spreading structural platform to place a Bottle of High Lift Jack in soft sand or mud conditions. Its top surface possesses the familiar crocodile back teeth array that all MAXTRAX recovery boards possess and can be used just as effectively. The Mk3 builds on the Mk2 platform product with an upgrade that is particularly noticeable. New metal alloy teeth significantly improving the products durability and longevity for the most extreme users. 

The recent win at SEMA takes the total awards won by MAXTRAX to five as it took out the similar categories for the MAXTRAX Mk2 back in 2010, as only a five year old business at the time. This shows that the quality of the products pumped out by the team are still of a high quality - no compromises, as owner Brad McCarthy says…‘not when your life can depend on it’! 


2. Audeara’s A-01 Headphone launch 

The Audeara team had a game-changing and category creating year that makes you want to give them a round of applause and that is before the A-01s have even arrived - which they are starting to do now!

The Audeara team founded their business on the premise of improving the traditional audiologist tests reliant on expensive equipment, paper medical records and long waiting times. Their motivation to do something better saw them explore the digital space first and develop their testing software and App. They knew that they could take this further with a seamless experience including a blue tooth headphone to play the sounds in a protected ear-covering design to create the best user experience and test outcomes. 
Being a blend of medicos in the mind and musicians in their hearts, the Audeara team knew that this technology could be used to test, accommodate, adjust and customise the listening experience for the individual in the consumer electronics Headphone market. CDG worked closely together with the Audeara R&D team to produce a high quality blue-tooth, over-ear headphone excitedly now being released to market as the A-01 Headset!

Audeara team had a year of highs and more highs, including winning the QUT bluebox challenge and smashing their own subscription targets from their Kickstater pledges, in the first 24 hours. Raising over $466,305 during the entire 45 day campaign. At the end of the year the Audeara A-1s were named by the Australian Financial Review as one of the top five ‘most innovative ear technologies’ of 2017; an honour to be on list with Google and Apple products. We have been proud to see that the Audeara team have held their product quality, user experience and customer experience standards high and resisted the urge to ship non optimal product to their eager kickstarter supporters. 

The wait will soon be over and from what we have been exposed to completely worth it! Keep an eye on these guys as there is a lot more to come from them in 2018!


3. Gourmet Garden’s Drizzle range

Another highlight for 2017 was the launch in July of the Gourmet Gardens’ Drizzle range. CDG worked together with Gourmet Garden’s innovation team to develop a range of tear-able packaging and storage racks that would sit comfortably in the chilled meat section of the supermarket. This range took many years to come to fruition and Clandestine Design Group was proud to collaborate with this innovative Queensland business in the final commercialisation phases of the project. 

Bringing a concept of two-three servings of a pourable, drizzling finishing sauce which transforms grilled meat dishes. There was some complexity in developing a range of pouches that could stay upright for example - when open in a fridge door, for three days; and still successfully poor with an olive-oil like consistency over your dish.  

The design took trial and error, many different shaped pouches, development of in house prototyping techniques and equipment and many focus groups before we found the perfect packaging match for Drizzle range. Consumer feedback since launch has been phenomenal; busy cooks love the convenience of a fresher, healthier herb sauce with the simplicity of shake, pour and drizzle. 

A particularly satisfying result for the Gourmet Garden team for whom this project had been a long road to bring this to fruition. Congratulation to Jacqui Wilson-Smith and her team who in May were profiled by The Courier-Mail’s QBM supplement as one of the state’s expert innovators. Jacqui and the Gourmet Garden innovation team now enjoy the challenge applying their skills across global markets and we look forward to continued collaboration in 2018!


Amazing to reflect on this calibre of work that we did last year with our clients last year and it great to see such strong Queensland companies!

This is the first edition of our CDG News Update, we are going to get this out to you on a bi-monthly basis. Each edition is going to full of lessons learned, case studies from our clients, and some global industry insights. Forward this first update to your friends or colleagues who would like to be added to our distribution list. 

We are now back on deck for 2018! Feel free to get in touch any time to share innovation, design, technology or collaboration opportunities! We wish you a happy and prosperous 2018!