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Innovating for inclusivity: Our design process

Nothing gives us greater satisfaction than knowing NYMAS and Fitzroy of London products are making some of the world’s busiest and most opulent venues accessible for everyone. We get huge satisfaction from working alongside internationally-renowned designers and architects to help achieve their aesthetic vision within a compliance framework.  But seeing products in their finished setting is only one part of the story – the culmination of a journey that begins long before a product is installed. Behind the scenes, every product bearing the NYMAS or Fitzroy of London name is the result of a rigorous design, innovation and testing process that ultimately sets it apart from its competitors. Our Group Product and Innovation Manager, John Taylor, offers some insight into our product development process, and the unique features we offer for our customers. He explains: “Innovation is central to everything we do within NYMAS Group.  Trends are important – particularly in the luxury sectors served by our NymaSTYLE and Fitzroy of London brands – but the need to be innovative goes much deeper than just aesthetics. The power of innovation “We use innovative manufacturing techniques to improve quality, and allow us to design more complex products. Being innovative with manufacturing techniques also allows us to produce higher quality products for a lower price.  It also allows us to offer our customers a much wider choice.  For example, in our Fitzroy of London range, we offer 18 standard PVD [Physical Vapour Deposition] finishes.  Not many of our competitors offer this finish type, let alone 18 different options.” Inspiration for our product ranges can come from a variety of sources, as John explains: “It all begins with an idea.  Sometimes this is inspired by other industries such as the automotive or furniture design industry.  We’re always attuned to wider trends in the bathroom industry, and interior design in general.  Other times the idea originates with a direct customer request – they’ll come to us with a specific need, and ask us to design something bespoke to meet that need.  Often these requests will expose a gap in the market, and the bespoke product ends up becoming a part of our range.” Our NPD process From concept through to manufacture, all NYMAS Group products follow the same step by step NPD process as follows: 1. Scope As a team, we define and agree the scope of the product or range.  All areas of the business are involved in this, so we can get input from every department that might be relevant during the design process, or later when it comes to sales and marketing. 2. Concept design Based on the agreed scope, our design team will develop some initial ideas for review. 3. Detailed design  We review the concepts, and select the best one(s) before developing them further into full design specification for manufacturable products. 4. Prototyping  Prototypes products are manufactured, evaluated and tested to check the design is fit for purpose. This includes weight testing to make sure they can perform as they should, and cycle testing if the product has moving parts. 5. Documentation Once the prototype has passed the testing programme, we create all the product documentation the finished product will require, including data sheets, operation and maintenance manuals, product images, etc. 6. Sourcing & sampling Work begins to identify a suitable manufacturer who can make the parts or product.  Once we have a supplier in place, we ask them to make a sample to ensure that they understand the requirements and can make the part to the required standard. 7. Sales and Marketing While we wait for the product to be manufactured, we focus on creating the sales and marketing tools we’ll need to bring it to market, including the development of a product launch pack to send to customers. 8. Product Management and Launch We begin implementing the product, which means planning out the steps required to successfully launch in the marketplace.  The product can now be specified into the required setting. Discerning design At every stage of the design process, the needs of the customer and the end user are paramount.  We draw on decades of expertise working in accessibility to inform the best profiles and materials for our products, always with compliance in mind. John adds: “For our NymaSTYLE and Fitzroy of London ranges, we’re always looking for ways to combine this with the visual and tactile aesthetics demanded by our clients.  Sometimes the material has to be a certain type due to the finish required, for instance we always use stainless steel for PVD finished items.  For that luxury feeling, we often use premium materials like solid wood and brass.”

Listening to feedback

Many industry professionals feed into our NPD process, bringing decades of design, manufacturing and compliance expertise on every single product.  User feedback also informs the process – but as we move forward, we’re hoping to incorporate this type of insight much earlier in the process, as John explains: “We hope to start liaising with accessibility experts and potentially end users at the prototyping phase.  We believe this engagement process could offer valuable insight and drive even more product innovation within the NYMAS group brands.  As disability awareness increases, expectations within the accessible washrooms space are only going to grow, and we’re already in a great place to respond to this need.  It’s an exciting industry to be part of.” For further information on our design and innovation process, or to discuss an upcoming inclusive washroom project, contact us!