New year, new location

In a world of digital and virtual everything, hands-on work is still an important part of how Outerspace gets things done. While 3D CAD modelling is a large part of what we do, we also like to get our hands dirty; from quick foam or clay form studies, to timber and sheet metal mockups, proof of concept and physical testing.

Outerspace Melbourne is consolidating its Richmond studio and workshop locations into a combined makerspace in Abbotsford just a ten minute drive away. The Abbotsford office, slated to open in late January 2019, will have dedicated workshop, electronics room and Colour, Materials and Finishes (CMF) area. Subscribe below for more updates in the new year.


Mark leaves his mark

After more than 25 years of enthusiastic service to Outerspace and Australian design, founding Director Mark Johnson is easing into semi-retirement. He’s still around the studio from time to time, transitioning projects, helping with the move and checking email, so wish him well. While you’re at it, check out the fascinating story of how it all began. Knowing Mark, he’s got more than a few side projects on the go, but will always make time for his family!


Ernesto sets sail

Senior design engineer and project manager Ernesto is set to fulfill a lifelong dream of taking a year off and sailing the world, and he’s generously offered to let his young family join him. Ernesto plans to set sail at the end of December, and is diligently winding up and handing over projects. We look forward to welcoming him back to the Outerspace team as soon as the wind blows him back this way and he regains his land legs.


Great Scott(s): electronics squared

Scott Foster joined the Outerspace team to expand our electronics capability. Since then demand has grown, so we went looking for another Scott. And we found Scott Williams. Scott and Scott will make good use of the new electronics lab at the Abbotsford facility, and expedite the development process for any products that require integrated electronics.

You are part of a global phenomenon.

Everything you do – what you eat, what you wear, how you vote, what you read, what you watch, what you buy (or don’t buy), how you travel, what you share, is part of a larger conversation that you contribute to, and by which you are influenced.

Yes, you’re an individual, but whether you realise it or not, your choices and actions contribute to the ongoing evolution of society.

Understanding these movements is critical for anyone developing products for purchase. To help make sense of, visualise, and communicate these flows in a meaningful way, product designers group these movements into categories that we call megatrends.

Megatrends are big, broad, cultural and social trends that influence our values and consumption behaviours – they represent big changes that occur over a five-to-ten-year period and are an important information tool at Outerspace Design.

Imagine if you were going to buy a car today. What trends are important to your situation and personality? Is luxury important to you? Would you buy a small car or an SUV? Petrol, diesel or electric engine? Or are you opposed to individual car ownership, preferring to walk, bike, take the bus, Uber or a share car? Some of these options weren’t even available a few years ago.


Expanding your product range:

Megatrends are very useful for companies wanting to differentiate and expand their product range, but are unsure what to do.

Each megatrend is an opportunity to tailor your product and align it with a consumer value set, that is strengthening over time, to ensure relevancy.

At Outerspace, as we progress through a project, we challenge ourselves at every part of the creative process, always asking – Who else could this appeal to? What else could this product do? Are we communicating the right values to the right market? By asking these questions, we use megatrends to make sure we are taking every opportunity to increase the value and longevity of each product we design and develop.

There are 8 megatrends in our five-to-ten-year forecast:

  • The New Luxury
  • Social Awareness
  • Natural
  • Sustainability
  • Digital Physical
  • Athleisure
  • Digital Virtual
  • Powershift

Read Megatrend 1: The New Luxury

The concept of luxury is expanding and evolving. Consumers are demanding greater choice, allowing them to spend more on what matters most to them. Global mass brands are giving way to niche brands as consumers at all income levels seek products, services, and experiences that reflect their personal identity. Consumers are seeking products that are unique rather than exclusive, they value experiencing over acquiring, and are interested in story more than brand.

Traditional luxury brands must evolve to stay relevant in the luxury market. Continuing to secure their reputation as one of the finest luxury brands in the world, Hermès have been travelling their exhibition “Hermès at Work”, showcasing their craftsmanship and proving that they are more than a well known name. In the exhibition, Hermès artisans demonstrate in the flesh the work that goes into creating their bags, watches, gloves, scarves, ties and more. Consumers get to see for themselves that Hermès doesn’t just have a heritage name but that behind their excellent reputation is a rich history of quality design.

A newer player in the luxury landscape is Le Labo from NYC, which was founded 11 years ago to be an alternative to the rising tide of conformity in perfumery. They make luxury perfumes which are freshly hand-formulated upon order, as well as hand-poured candles with an emphasis on hand-picked ingredients. Le Labo is certainly luxury without being traditional and despite being so new. Their personalised approach along with a focus on natural ingredients and artisanal expertise gives them the status that luxury seekers are after.

An example of the new luxury from the Outerspace product design portfolio is the Tastic Neo for IXL Home. The Neo is a 3-in-1 exhaust fan, ceiling light and electric heater for the bathroom. Unlike the small, low-powered options available on the market, the Tastic incorporates three bright downlights and a powerful, efficient and quiet in-line electric fan. Rather than round heat bulbs, a linear IR element is recessed behind a frosted tempered glass fascia. Protruding bulbous plastic fascia and dusty vent grilles are replaced with a low-profile genuine metal frame and integrated vent apertures.

When launched, the Neo was priced well above its nearest competitor, and created a new premium category in the segment. Yet before long, it was the market leader. The Neo was a luxury trend setter.

Neo leveraged several insights:

Retail builders are gaining market share. Houses and ensuite bathrooms are getting larger. The building industry is adopting more stringent standards, including better-sealed homes, necessitating active venting. But the underlying trend is this: people are spending longer hours working and commuting, and they’re spending a much higher proportion of their incomes on accommodation, leaving less disposable income to spend on external entertainment, resulting in more at-home entertainment and relaxation. In a word, staycation. As a result, the gourmet kitchen is replacing the restaurant, the home theatre is replacing the cinema and the ensuite is replacing the day spa. Upgrading your bathroom has become an easy way to invest in your most valuable asset, add some luxury to your time-poor life, while saving you money by letting you pamper yourself at home.

Traditional forms of luxury may be dead, but the new values of luxury – quality, craftsmanship and authenticity – are stronger and more accessible than ever.

If you’re interested in how you can use megatrends to increase the value of your products please get in touch!

“’Digital’ is no longer a glorified marketing department in a company, or an economic sector on its own, but a layer over everything.”

– Future Crunch*

Everyday the digital world moves further into the physical space – internet of things, 3D printing, automation, artificial intelligence – have all become part of our lives, sometimes without us even knowing. There is no area of life that hasn’t been transformed by technology in one way or another.

If you’re not already, you should be asking yourself, “how can my product be better using digital technology?” because your competitors are.

When we talk about “Digital Physical” at Outerspace, we’re primarily talking about physical products that are being enhanced by digital elements or features. The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is probably the most common way of referring to this area of products that merge digital, online, and physical.

Think about how much photography has changed and accelerated since evolving from film to digital. You no longer have to purchase film, take it to a store to develop and print the images, at a high cost of time, money and inconvenience. Now you can take as many photos as you want on your phone, then store, sort, edit, and instantly upload and share them at virtually no cost!

Digital tech has revolutionised the retail sector too. Last year, global online sales amounted to 2.3 trillion USD and projections show a growth of up to 4.48 trillion USD by 2021.** While some people like the convenience of shopping online, many still prefer to visit a bricks and mortar store. But that doesn’t get you out of the digital sphere all together. Stores like Amazon Go now allow you to walk in, grab whatever you like and walk straight out, with all sales being processed automatically through an app on the phone in your pocket. Lolli and Pops, a US based sweet store, invites their customers to “enrol their face” – each time they walk into the store they are recognized in real-time by an app with facial recognition that the sales associates are using on their tablet devices. The staff know your allergies, your past purchases, and can recommend products via AI-enhanced analytics without you even having to introduce yourself.


We’re constantly seeing this digital layer transform physical areas of our day to day lives, but the opposite is happening too. In a retro backlash from computer gaming company Nintendo, their latest offering, the Nintendo Switch, a modular, digital gaming platform, now has a very physical accessory. Nintendo Labo brings physical play back into digital gaming with cardboard DIY accessories that kids can build and incorporate into the digital game play. Nintendo Labo appeals to parents who are conscious of their kids having too much screen time and feel a sense of nostalgia towards ‘old fashioned play’. Check out this video to see the Switch and Labo in action.

Even heavy primary industries are going digital. For many years the mining sector has used digital technology and GPS to plan and track their extraction and transport equipment to optimise logistics from control centres. But the digital influence has expanded further into the physical world including vehicle cockpits. Equipment operators expect access to technology to help them do their jobs, but the cabins of earthmovers are rough and dusty places. So Motium worked with Outerspace Design to develop a connected tablet PC that is ruggedised and dust proof. With an anti-glare screen, large heat sinks, and sealed connection ports, the “Tuff Panel” PC provides in-cabin access to software and real-time site information even under extreme environmental conditions.

Ruggedized tablet

The mining sector is also using digital technology to tackle the problem of driver drowsiness which causes errors, injury and death every year. Outerspace worked with Optalert to develop a wearable monitoring system, including a specialised set of eyeglasses. The glasses include an optical sensor that records eye blinking frequency and speed to accurately detect driver fatigue and alert the driver before it becomes dangerous.

These are just some of the ways digital technology is finding its way into the physical world to enhance and enrich our lives. Technology now plays a pivotal role in consumer decision-making and the ability of products to meet the needs and expectations of current and future consumers in a global marketplace.

To see how this megatrend applies to your product, contact us via our website. We’ll help you explore the possibilities by asking questions like how can digital and connected features help your product:

  • appeal to more people?
  • evolve into the future and stay relevant?
  • function better, solve more problems or offer more convenience?
  • enhance or offer a more customised user experience?

If you’re interested in how you can use megatrends to increase the value of your products, please get in touch!


*Future Crunch   **

At Outerspace Design, we appreciate clients who identify real world problems to solve, and set a high bar for product excellence.

The founder of RX Smart Gear approached Outerspace with a challenge: design the world’s first high performance jump rope that can be quickly length-adjusted without tools.

Dave Newman entered the Californian CrossFit scene in 2008, and quickly became hooked on the physical intensity of the sport. But like many others, he struggled with the jump rope and the problem of “double unders”, where participants increase the intensity, achieving two rotations for every jump. Dave noticed that outdated gear was letting athletes down, and set out to improve the equipment through careful testing and observation.

One of Dave’s key discoveries was that small changes to jump rope length made a huge difference in posture, technique and efficiency; each athlete required a custom rope length for optimal performance.

Dave and Outerspace Design are proud to introduce RapidFit, the world’s first dual bearing, tool-free, length-adjustable jump rope. The achievement was honoured with a Good Design Award trophy presented to the team at the Sydney Opera House on the eve of the 60 year anniversary of the awards in front of an audience of 1100 guests from around the world.

See the entry here. Click on “Feature One” for more detail about this unique design.


Image L to R: Outerspace : Alex Morrison, Designer, Mark Johnson, Director, RXSG Australia: Daniel Cook

Outerspace has added three new members to the team. The move is in line with their philosophy of simplifying the product development process for our clients.

From left to right:
Dr. David Menzies, Business Development and Commercialisation
Kevin Duckenfield, Senior Product Engineer
Scott Foster, Senior Electronic Engineer

David brings a wealth of experience in business planning, capital raising and product launch. “A lot of start-ups ventures have good technology, but aren’t where they need to be in terms of business planning , modelling, and capital raising, so that’s where they fall over, and this is where I can help” explains David.

Kevin has worked around the world, from Germany to the UK on a wide range of automotive projects, including the Tesla Model X. Kevin will help service a growing number of Outerspace clients in the transport and mobility space.

Scott is Outerspace Design’s first dedicated electronic engineer. Having developed electronics for the mining industry, and robotics for the medical and scientific fields, Scott will help expedite development process for any products that require integrated electronics.

“While we’ve always offered electronics design with our trusted partners, and will continue to do so, having in-house electronics engineering capability lets us make quicker decisions, reducing cost and time to market for our clients.” explains Andrew Moore, Operations Manager at Outerspace. “The more we can offer in-house, the easier it is for our clients.”

Comtruk SUB Outerspace design

Since 1934, the Aussie Ford ute has been an icon of Australian culture, and an expression of Australian ingenuity. Today, the ute is still used as a work vehicle, but doubles as a family car with comfortable interior and spacious cabin.

Comtruk and Outerspace Design have joined forces to ensure this heritage continues across all styles and brands of pickup with the Comtruk Sport Utility Bed or SUB.

The talented design and engineering team at Outerspace Design, with creative director Antony Stolfo, and Aluminium Industries managing director, Jim Gallagher, collaborated to create this revolutionary, versatile pickup bed.

“The patented Comtruk SUB design blurs the lines between a pickup ‘tub’ and a pickup ‘tray’.  The clever design of the SUB challenges the traditional ‘tub’ by maintaining vehicle styling. It provides loads of functionality, versatility, performance, and safety that a ‘tub’ simply doesn’t deliver,” Antony Stolfo said.


erica ferguson and janelle sherrard

Outerspace interacts with a wide range of businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs. Some of our most successful clients are female innovators with inspirational stories.

Erica Fergusson and Janelle Sherrard (above) come from very different backgrounds, but both approached Outerspace to work with them to develop their ideas from concept to commercial product. The journey of product innovation was challenging for both of these women, but their stories tell how they overcame the obstacles and made their ideas a reality.

Erica began her start-up journey five years ago. As a stay-at-home mum with three active kids, she had a “love-hate” relationship with sunscreen. Applying sunscreen is a messy but necessary process. This led to Erica’s idea for SunSmudg – a sun smart way to carry and apply sunscreen without getting messy, greasy hands. Designed for people who love the outdoors it provides a better way of applying sunscreen effectively.

Janelle moved from the building and construction industry into product development around six years ago to pursue her ambition and passion for developing BinSpring, an idea she’d fallen in love with. BinSpring attaches to a wheelie bin lid to stop rubbish escaping. It’s an ingenious solution to a significant community problem.“It’s about environment, integrity, and practicality. That’s the way I live my life,” explains Janelle.

Even with her successful business background, Janelle had very limited understanding and experience with product development but was excited by the challenge. Both women started out with just an idea that they wanted to make into a reality and had an exciting journey ahead of them.

The first stages saw many challenges. Erica realised early on that she was going to need help with the implementation of her idea but found it difficult to know who to ask. Janelle also found it difficult to find a contractor and had limited information about the design industry. Her initial design wasn’t working and needed to be more robust. It was a stressful and costly exercise for both women just to find the right people and get the process started.

Erica and Janelle sought assistance with their projects and found Outerspace through the contacts they made at the Curtin University Ignition program. With positive feedback from the program they felt ready to get started and engage with Outerspace to take their products further.

Both women are Perth-based so their relationship with Outerspace was long-distance but everyone made it work. Both Erica and Janelle needed Outerspace’s expertise in product development, engineering, business development and product manufacturing. Over the two to three years they engaged Outerspace, they watched their ideas become designs, prototypes and commercialised products.

“We came from different sides of the country but it still worked really well and we were able to get the product developed from an idea to what SunSmudg is today,” explains Erica.

“I relied very much on a designer to guide how to get the product to a point where it was ready. Outerspace took the initial concept to a commercialised product,” says Janelle.

Outerspace not only assisted in the product design and engineering but also provided Janelle and Erica with insights and advice about pricing and manufacturing. “Outerspace were really honest and upfront with me and their feedback was invaluable. They had a really good work ethic and were very easy to work with. When you don’t know what you’re doing, you really have to trust people and Outerspace were very easy to trust,” Erica says.

Erica and Janelle were constantly surprised by the innovation process and experienced a new world of challenges they needed to overcome. Both mentioned how much they had underestimated the initial time and cost that goes into a start-up and how much you need to learn and adapt along the way.

“When you look at a product on the shelf you don’t realise that to get that product out to the masses is a huge process. It’s been very challenging and I’ve learnt a lot and made a lot of mistakes,” says Erica.

“People told me before I started that this was going to be the hardest thing I’d ever do and was going to cost a lot of money and take several years. I didn’t believe them, but that is the case. The cost of getting a product off the ground and into markets is enormous and we didn’t consider that enough at the start,” Janelle explains.

Another challenge both innovators have had to face was dealing with setbacks and rejections. “The greatest challenge is keeping that desire through all the knock-backs and keeping engaged, focused and prepared for the next steps. I’ve hit rock bottom so many times and had to pick myself back up again to keep going,” says Janelle.

“I’m very proud of SunSmudg but it became very challenging and took me out of my comfort zone. Conquering the rejections is the tough one when it’s something you’ve made yourself,” admits Erica.

Being a female entrepreneur is getting easier but these brave women still faced challenges. For SunSmudg being heard in the marketing world and contacting manufacturers was often overwhelming. For BinSpring, communicating with the waste management and local councils can still be challenging as they are very male dominated.

Both Erica and Janelle acknowledge how welcoming the innovation and product development world is now for female entrepreneurs, with gender equality understood as a given. While they faced some issues with local governments, waste and marketing industries, they saw no prejudice in the innovation or product development world.

Both women were grateful to have Outerspace working with them through the challenges of communicating with other industries and manufacturing suppliers overseas. For other female entrepreneurs just starting out, Erica and Janelle offer this advice on how to tackle the world of product development and innovation.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff. It has been the most challenging time in my life but you have to just keep going and focus on the end goal of getting your product out there,” says Erica.

“Entering the world of innovation is very frightening but if you reflect on your personal and company values frequently, it’s much easier to recognise when a business relationship is valuable and will give you longevity.  Get your business plan down pat. Establish your objectives and values. Women have that intuition to recognise when a business relationship is valuable,”Janelle says.

The future for both of these businesses is very exciting. After taking some time off from her project, Erica is looking at new marketing and sales opportunities to get SunSmudg out to the masses. BinSpring is undergoing product trials. Janelle recently won a WA Innovation Grant to fund the trials. She is collecting data on the benefits of the product for easier marketing and sales to local councils.

Outerspace is very proud to have been a part of the development of these two products and can’t wait to be a part of more projects with other amazing women like Erica and Janelle.

seb kipman neofit roller

The Neofit roller is the brainchild of Seb Kipman, a writer with a passion for keeping fit. A lightweight collapsible exercise roller, Neofit easily collapses from 30 to 10cm in length, so you can carry Neofit in your bag, or store it in a small space. Rollers are great for massaging tight muscles but cumbersome to carry around and store, so Neofit elegantly solved these problems.

Seb worked for Cricket Australia for seven years, travelling with the team and lugging gear everywhere he went. The idea for Neofit came about in 2015 after experiencing back-breaking cricket tours.

“I wrote the idea down in my notebook,” says Seb. He then toyed around with designs, coming up with different concepts. “At one stage, I took an inner tube from a roll of paper towel and fashioned it into all sorts of clumsy concepts,” he explains.

“Eventually I got bogged down with full-time work so forgot the idea for a while. I kept coming back to it over the next year. I knew there was something to it but I was unsure whether there was a market for it,” he says.

In 2016, Seb was accepted into a business incubator and one of the big lessons he learnt was how to work on due diligence and how to determine whether or not there is sufficient market demand for a proposed new product. “Once I went through about a month of due diligence on the idea, it became clear there was a strong market for Neofit,” says Seb.

Seb quit his job in August 2016 to work full time on the idea. He sold his car and most of his belongings, rented out his apartment, took up freelancing to pay the bills and moved to South East Asia to cut back on living costs, while working on the product. “I kind of went all in with the idea,” Seb says.

“The idea that something I’ve created, with the help of my design team at Outerspace, is desired by people around the world is a pretty cool feeling,” he says.

The design process started in September 2016, about a year after the initial idea. Seb approached Outerspace with a concept and model for Neofit. “As a writer, coming from a creative background meant my mind wasn’t constrained by engineering logic or reality. Perhaps if I’d had a really deep understanding of engineering I might have dismissed early ideas for Neofit outright,” explains Seb.

Outerspace Design and Seb worked together on concepts. “The design team applied their expertise to convert some of my early ideas into workable concepts while others, they told me,  weren’t feasible. It was a good combination to have,” he explains.

Big Idea Event Outerspace Design

The Outerspace Big Idea event was a sell-out and an inspiring night of conversation and sharing experiences in the product development space.

Nothing beats face-to-face conversation. Start-ups and entrepreneurs from Melbourne’s innovation ecosystem compared notes and shared their ups and downs.

From medtech to agritech, ideas in new territories and disruptive technologies, the future is an exciting and challenging place.

Mike Denham, Outerspace Creative Team Lead presented the processes and pathways to successful products including “rocky roads and camel humps” and identifying the real problems your idea is solving.

Dave McAuld founder of start-up company Fusion Guitars talked candidly about the realities of crowd funding, manufacturing, lead-times and the highs and lows of creating and launching new products.

Targeted marketing campaigns and the importance of building loyal followers on social media was also noted. Dave finished his presentation with a song.

The first in a series of events at Outerspace, we look forward to sharing more with you again in the next couple of months.  Watch this space!