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Innovator profile: Adam Barlow, Purpose Design Lab

Design, collaboration and pushing the boundaries of innovation
Innovator profile: Adam Barlow, Purpose Design Lab

Based on the NSW Central Coast (Australia), Purpose Design Lab's studio breathes design, innovation, and the salty sea air. We spoke with Adam to learn about his process, working with espresso Displays, and his design philosophy.

About the founder:  

Growing up in the UK, Adam has always considered himself a designer, tinkering with things since he was 4 years old. He would take them apart and put them back together to understand how they work. Through college, and alongside design, Adam studied Psychology, Biology and Sport – To understand how Humans work too! 

Adam graduated from university with a first-class Honours degree in Industrial Design and Diploma of professional studies before moving to Australia in 2008 to work at Australian MedTech prodigy ResMed. After more than 14 years designing and leading teams to deliver wearable health tech that improves people’s lives, Adam Founded Purpose Design Lab. 

As a fiercely human-centred designer, Adam has continued to develop his skills, gaining a diploma of polymer technology, becoming a practitioner of NLP and writing a playbook for product innovation. 

About Purpose Design Lab: 

Purpose Design Lab is an Industrial Design Consultancy with a passion for helping exciting brands develop products that resonate with their user. We are motivated to build lasting relationships with the companies we work with. Integrating seamlessly with their team and delivering market leading solutions that are executed to the highest level. 

Working with espresso Displays to conceptualise, design, develop, and deliver espresso Charge, 17 Pro and StandPro was a privilege, and came from relationships like these being forged over several years. We believe that the shift towards remote working has opened up an exciting opportunity for espresso, and look forward to an exciting future ahead. 

Adam has collaborated closely with espresso Displays to help craft its product and innovation story through design.

What is your biggest goal in your chosen path? 

We aim to be the best, not the biggest. We aim to help companies achieve commercial success through the implementation of beautifully functional designs that surprise and delight their target market. If we can help them pick up a few design awards along the way, that would be pretty great. 

 What draws you to keep doing what you do? 

We love solving challenging problems and seeing companies we work with succeed. We love seeing products that we have been involved with on the shelf, or being used out in the wide world. Working on the Stand Pro in particular unveiled some interesting challenges such as internalising the hinges for a more simple aesthetic and providing a ‘wobble-free’ product for digital artists looking to lock in that perfect sketching angle.  

Design is never done, as there is always an improvement to be made. We are always learning, gaining feedback and looking for opportunities to surprise or delight someone anew. We are constantly energised by new projects and problems to solve or the challenge to deliver something better or in a novel way.  

How would you describe “flow state,” and how do you achieve it? 

Flow state occurs for us when we are focussed on a common goal, a technical challenge or delivering a product visualisation package like the renders and animations for the launch of 17Pro, Stand Pro and Charge. Working in our 3D CAD or product rendering packages is where time evaporates. We can be so focussed on a design element, a technical challenge or making sure all the parts work seamlessly together that time stands still, but rushes by around us. Listening to lo-fi tunes or pink noise blocks everything out, helping us get crystal clear on our goal.  

How many locations do you work from in any given week, month or year? 

We are a remote team, working from three primary locations. Each of us also works from between 3 and 8 different locations per month. This can vary between our studio on the Central Coast to cafes, educational institutions or clients’ offices.  

If you could choose anywhere in the world to work from, where would it be and why? 

As the founder of Purpose Design Lab and keen surfer, if I could work from a land-camp or boat in the Mentawaiis with my family, I probably would!  

What excites you most about innovation in interactive technology? 

For innovation to be valuable, it must deliver an improved outcome for a problem or a user. In other words, there must be a purpose for the innovation. At Purpose Design Lab, innovation is in our bones. We design impactful products that solve real problems in delightful ways. Innovation can be simple, like the stop-tabs on Stand-pro’s kick-stand. With interactive and remote working technology, the development of AI, Starlink and other tech is exciting. We don’t know where it will lead, but we don’t intend on being left behind!   

Tell us about what makes for a good experience when you’re on task and focused on work. 

Studies show it takes between 23 and 29 minutes to refocus on a task after distraction. Blocking out distraction with sound, pop-up blockers or going full-screen is key to how we focus. Sometimes, even going analogue with pen and paper helps too!   

What is your work-from-anywhere toolkit in terms of products and software? 

No matter where I go, my laptop goes too. It is a beast, it’s heavy and is certainly power hungry when processing tasks but I couldn’t live with out it. This calls for a Yeti backpack which can protect the laptop and fit all the rest of the kit – mouse, mousepad, powerchord, iPhone, notebook, pens, ruler, calliper, and of course my espresso Display 15 Touch and Stand… soon to be upgraded to a 17 Pro! 😉 

You can check out Purpose Design Lab's work here: https://purposedesignlab.com/

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