TWO BIKES, A KETTLE AND A FOOD PROCESSOR

BY SEYMOUR POWELL

Just how do you set about designing a motorbike? Who comes up with the ideas for new domestic appliances and what type of two-wheeled vehicle would best suit the Indian market? If these burning questions have been disturbing your sleep, turn on the TV on

Sunday evening (10 December) at 7pm and you might find the answers.

In an unprecedented analysis of the process behind product design, Channel Four’s Equinox team charts the progress of three projects by Seymour Powell, none of which have previously been exposed.

Entitled Designing Dream Machines, the programme kicks off with the consultancy’s redesign of the legendary BSA Bantam motorcycle, with Richard Seymour in the saddle. The project, for BSA and German partner MuZ, is traced from concept stage – just what does make a modern classic, a bike for the Nineties? Then we witness the first working prototype being taken through its paces by the team. The project is scheduled for completion by 1997, so there’s plenty of time for it to change.

Dick Powell is meanwhile brainstorming with domestic appliances manufacturer Tefal to come up with product ideas to extend its range. Following the success of the first cordless kettle, designed by Seymour Powell for Tefal in 1986, the consultancy was called in to consider the next generation of ‘kitchen workhorses’.

The upshot is a series of appliances that all share a common power base, thus reducing the amount of electric cord cluttering up the work surface. Powell and his colleagues went on to develop the elegant jug-style ThermoKettle and matching food processor.

The jury is still out at Tefal, but innovations shown in the non-functioning prototypes for the two products include a heat-retaining double foam layer for the kettle – hence its name. For the food processor the designers have dispensed with the ‘funnel’ common to most models, replacing it with a compact product featuring a circular bowl.

Finally, Seymour Powell senior transport designer Nick Talbot heeds the call from India to come up with ideas for a new scooter designed to accommodate an Indian family and much of their kit.

Not quite the kind of bike you’d associate with the ‘wild things’ of Seymour Powell, this one hasn’t got beyond the drawing board yet, though production is scheduled to start at the end of next year. But the local colour that spices up Talbot’s research on location still makes interesting viewing.

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