Magicking Ideas Into Manufactured Goods

In a corner of east London, a 10-strong design firm has perfected the art of bringing start-ups’ concepts to market. Now the big players want a slice of the action.

Map Design

Map design studio came of age in a perfect storm. It was 2012 and Kickstarter was launching in the UK, just as London’s ‘tech city’ in nearby Shoreditch was emerging. No surprise, then that the firm’s first client was a tech start-up looking for crowdfunding. At the time, Kano was a two-man-band. Now, the computer and coding kit brand is 150-strong.

More recent Map successes include Ding, a smart doorbell, BeeLine, a low-cost navigation device for cyclists (pictured overleaf main image), and BleepBleeps. The star of this range of Internet-connected parenting aids is a smart night light and baby monitor (pictured left, right and below).

On such jobs, the designers often go to China and work with the manufacturer for a few weeks to make final tweaks to the product. Map’s experience with start-ups means the firm can even help with production schedules for small batch runs. “Global manufacturing is seasonal, and there’s a lot of activity in the run-up to Christmas,” explains Map design associate Will Howe, “so factories are often happy to do small batches off season, to keep their staff busy.”

All that hand-holding for entrepreneurs is proving good for business. Increasingly, Map is attracting corporates struggling to innovate fast, and who need some start-up energy. Hence Map’s design of MaximusPro, a navigation device for India’s 30m-plus motorcyclists. It’s made by KPIT, an India-based global technology company. There are plenty of other projects on the drawing board, but true to form, many big clients prefer their innovative efforts to remain under wraps.

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