The Innovation Machine @Groupe SEB

By Kate
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When you look at the evolution of everyday household goods, you see the power of innovation and its societal impact.  Take the clothes iron, for example.

One hundred years ago, the clothes iron was a heavy metal object that you’d have to heat on the fire, and then use your muscle power to push it around hard enough to flatten your clothing wrinkles.  I’m sweating just thinking about it!

Even today in some countries, clothes irons are powered by coal and ironing services are offered on roadside stands.

Yet we’ve made enough progress elsewhere that now companies are designing clothes irons for men, the type of men that like power tools.  I just read the other day about a new black, “fun-to-use” iron specifically for you guys!  (BTW, women like black too, but oh well.  Go for it!)

Copyright Photographe : Philippe SCHULLER.

Copyright Photograph : Philippe SCHULLER.

Now it just so happens that Jean-Christophe Simon, the director of innovation for Groupe SEB, the world leader in small household equipment, will speak at Tuesday’s National Innovation Directors Meetings

And since we’re all consumers of these products, I thought it would be interesting to see what SEB has to say about the group’s ‘innovation machine’ and the future of household equipment innovations.

Here you go:

1. Your Group includes 20 brands, and of those six are worldwide. They represent a lot of household products! Groupe SEB today sells how many different products?

JCS: With our portfolio of diversified and complementary brands, Groupe SEB is present in both the small electrical appliance sector and cookware.  The development of global markets means a certain degree of standardization of offers but also multiplicity of local usage makes it vital to adapt and respond to specific local needs.

The Group sells approximately 200 million products per year in approximalty 150 countries.

2. You must have a serious ‘innovation machine’ to bring so many products to market. What’s your secret?

JCS: Innovation is part of the Groupe SEB DNA for more than 150 years and our history is paved by a succession of innovative products (1917 electric iron, 1953 pressure cooker seb, 1967 electric odour free deep fryer…). It is not by chance that one of our five group values, shared by all of our 20,500 employees, is “Passion for Innovation”.

Innovation at Groupe SEB is very diverse: it can be functional, technological, marketing; it can also come from partnership agreements.
Innovation is always guided by our brands and our different ranges offer genuine product benefits that are tangible for the consumer: breakthrough innovation, ease of use, high-tech performance, timesaving, ergonomics, elegant design, handy storage…

Groupe SEB has R&D centers either dedicated to our business units, to specific product ranges or to key technologies for the group. We have approximalty 750 people dedicated to R&D.  These people work in close cooperation with marketing teams according to various development models in order to handle all types of products and market segments appropriatly.

We register around 100-150 patents and launch 200 new products per year.
In 2009, we invested 60 M€ in R&D.

3. Do you use 3D software and collaborative research platforms to invent your products? If so, how does this impact your innovation cycle? If not, why?

JCS: No software and collaborative research platform at present, but we are benchmarking some systems. Of course we are using PLM software for product engineering.

4. What’s the long-term future of household products, and what needs to happen to get us there? Can you give a specific product example?

JCS: The small domestic appliance market in mature countries is spurred by a new demand for higher-status products as well as the increasing volume of cheaply mass-produced products coming from Asia. Consumers are ready to pay for innovation only if it provides a clear benefit to them (i.e. Actifry, Silence Force). In these mature markets, new consumption trends also create opportunities for new product categories (i.e. seniors, environmental products).

The emerging markets represent an enormous potential of growth with new customers willing to fit out with high performance products. These markets, where the local actors are more and more competitive, require not only standardized products but also very specific ones (wok, soya bean milk maker, chapati grill, arepas makers…).

5. Where does the ‘innovation industry’ need to innovate?

JCS: The mid-range and top-range segments use innovation and expertise to re-dynamize markets with products that stand out from cheaply mass-produced and increasingly commonplace articles.

This is clearly the stance adopted by Groupe SEB which, as a leader in its sector, strives not only to enhance the quality of the present offer, but also to develop the potential of the small household equipment market.

Merci beaucoup Jean-Christophe!

I hope that you enjoyed my interviews with the innovation directors from Groupe SEB, Areva and Aldebaran Robotics.  Next stop, the conference Tuesday!

Bon weekend,


Creativity in 3D | Winners

By Xavier
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We would like to thank all participants for the creations we received.

After reviewing all the candidates’ entries we are delighted to announce the 3 winners.

MC2 by Marwan Khiat

MC2 a concept of vehicule that uses the car fleet as an electric station. The user can use and manage his electrical energy according to his needs for his better choice and comfort.

Modelling with CATIA V5 “Full” Imagine&Shape

a brief discussion with Marwan

Hello,my name is  marwan khiat an industrial design student at Strate College Designers. I used catia within the framework of the realization of my project of diploma. For me catia was the best solution to model my object with a sure efficiency.

With my project, this car interior allows his user to manage its electric production which is generated thank’s to its solar surfaces which equip exterior design. The connection between exterior and interior is shaped by connection between the dashboard and the solar surface. The HMI allows for the users to manage his engine cartography.

For me Catia Imagine and Shape are the best way for a designer to built his 3D model. With Catia we can have a background and we can change everything when we want and very efficiently. For my project and with all the design process and the design evolution I spend 6 days for build it. I use especially Imagine and Shape because it’s more intuitive and we can model it like a clay model and also a little bit Part Design for technical and simple shape.



Miami Signature Spa By Hex Ceballos

Architecture Design for a signature spa in Miami, fl.

Concept was to combine different architecture languages into one.Polymorphism. Example from: 1111 by Herzog & De Meuron, Park guel by Gaudi, and Dillier & Scofidio single surface architectural language.

Started off with program modeling of spaces using space reservations, and then from there created an elevation sketch of the conceptual building, and modeled the building using advanced surfacing. Later rendered using the existing conditions of the project site.


a brief discussion with Hex

I am Cuban descent born in the U.S. I graduated from Champagnat Catholic School. I have earned my Associate in Arts in Architecture at Miami-Dade College. I was chapter president of an International Honor society during my time at Miami-Dade College. Currently a student at Florida International University School of Architecture in the Accelerated Masters Program. I have a passion for design, engineering, technology, soft fluid forms, and organic form curvatures.  I have been learning CATIA for the past 3 years and counting, and currently learning  3dvia Virtools and programming.

| Can you tell us who you are, your job and the reason you use CATIA ?

I am a student at Florida International University majoring in architecture. I am also planning to get a degree in Design and Computations and, probably, in engineering as well at another university.

The reason I use CATIA is because it allows me to think intuitively as a designer without limitations. I am able to communicate my vision in CATIA, design freely while implementing concurrent design methodology and other methodologies into my process. I am able make bi-directional changes as the project progresses during the design phase. I have used CATIA before in the past for a design project called “Baywalk Bridge Project”, The design was publicized twice at Miami-Dade College, and was entered at COE for technifair poster session 2009 which won second place. In other terms, a student trying to work out of the box.


| We would like to discover what is the story of the product you have created using CATIA?

The project was to create a spa or wellness center in Miami Beach at a specified location next to Indian Creek Park. The spa had to be unique as possible, something that would drive the people there; create a sense of place-making. The area does not support any urban infrastructure nor a sense of place; a destination.

I started modeling the project site, and then modeling the program with accurate square footages space reservations, and arranging the spaces. Once the initial step was completed, I posted a sheet of paper on the wall and projected the model and performed a dynamic  section to sketch out design ideas. I was sketching the program model at various sections trying to find the form and behavior of the design.

Once the sketch was completed, I scan the image and brought into CATIA using sketch tracer to begin the design modeling process in context with the project site. I have used mostly advanced surfacing for the form and turn it into a solid. During the modeling process, I was making design decision bi-directional changes; changing the program, the form, the behavior of the design to better communicate my vision.


| Why did you use CATIA for this creation?

Digital media  has been an approach to communicate design intent ideas; CATIA’s wide range of tools and advance surfacing has allowed me to express language, creativity, and vision. In the AEC industry, the tool palette is limited, and AEC palette of tools have limitations and the majority of the industry still works in 2D and some architectural firms are adopting BIM, but even BIM tools have their limitations.

CATIA seems to have no limitation, design decisions can be made intuitively in any form or process. CATIA gives the end-user the ability to make changes globally and parametrically through its history-based features; being able to make bi-directional changes while progressing the design intent without deleting any features. CATIA can also create complex compound curvatures with advanced surfacing tools which AEC industry tools have difficulty producing soft forms and curvature.

Model translation to different environment and platform are eliminated. The model is kept within the same environment and platform. Therefore, if I need a certain tool or feature, I do not need to export the model to another file format and have it imported into another program. With CATIA, I can easily switch modeling environments, make changes parametrically, internal and external data could be linked to the virtual prototype, and no file exchanges.

With all the AEC tools in the world,  CATIA seems to be the preferred mature tool for design because: 1)  Integration of cross disciplines in a collaborative environment 2) Compound curvatures produced with advanced surfacing form finding tools 3) CATIA is a history-based modeling program. 4) The models can be parametrically intelligent. These are just but a few reasons I use CATIA for this design, and will continue to do so for future designs.

|  How much time did you spend on CATIA for this Creation?

The design was a Grad Studio 5 project. We are given a limited time frame to design and present the work in a architectural manner and studio environment. The project time frame was from October 2009 till December 1 2009 ( a lot of  long nights without sleep ).

| From your point of view, what are the main benefits you are getting from CATIA tools usage? Or Why did you like to use CATIA?

The main benefits is able to go back within the model history and make changes without deleting the features I have created.  Being able to create complex curvatures and organic forms using advanced surfacing, wireframe,  and clay form modeling tools, and converting the surfaces into solids; also adding parametric intelligence to the form.

Knowledge capture also plays a key role in capturing parts or assemblies for future use but allowing room for innovative changes and ideas. Understanding the tree in CATIA is a key factor to modeling, if you do not understand the tree you do not understand CATIA.


| Which are the CATIA products you have been using to create your product, and why did you decided to use these tools?

I used a wide range of tool palettes in CATIA but it is not limited to: Assembly Design, Part Design, Advanced Surfacing, Knowledgeware, Photo Studio, Real Time Rendering, Plant Layout, Product Structure. I mostly work with surfaces, but it also depends which best practice should be used for any project because from what I have learned there are many approaches to modeling in CATIA, however, the process and organizational structure of a good model is really imperative when applying knowledgeware.




Carbon Saddle by Jens

Light weight carbon saddle – concept 3d sketches – full Imagine and shape

a brief discussion with Jens

My name is Jens Paulus, I’m an industrial designer based in Barcelona.
Currently, I am working as a freelance designer in the field of Industrial Design and Yacht Design. I have worked for companies such as Barcelona Yacht design GROUP in Spain, Björn Johansson Design in UK, Icehotel in Sweden and Estudi Arola in Spain among others. Since 2009, I have been teaching part time at Istituto Europeo de Design, Barcelona in the interior design department.
In addition to design, my passions include playing in the symphony orchestra, ice sculpting and cycling.

| Can you tell us who you are, your job and the reason you use CATIA ?

I got to know CATIA while working at BYD Group 2005-2008 as a yacht interior designer. There I experienced the great benefits of CATIA tools working on complex yacht design projects. A team of naval architects, engineers and designers working  closely together using CATIA accomplishing very different tasks.

| We would like to discover what is the story of the product you have created using CATIA

As I didn’t spend so much time on the concept, I called my entry a “3D sketch” rather than a well thought design concept. It was a spontaneous creation of a bike saddle driven by my love for road bikes. I think it illustrates quite well the power of CATIA, it enables you to create very complex designs in a very short time.

| Why did you use CATIA for this creation

I actually created the bike saddle especially to participate the CATIA contest and demonstrate what you can do with this software.

| How much time did you spend on CATIA for this Creation.

It took me 5 hours for creating the bike saddle from the scratch, Ideation process, 3d modelling and creating the little presentation included.

| From your point of view, what are the main benefits you are getting from CATIA tools usage? Or Why did you like to use CATIA.

As a freelancer I have to adapt to the work conditions of each company I’m working for and unfortunately I don’t always have the possibility to work with CATIA. Therefore knowing other 3d applications quite well I just can tell that CATIA is outstanding in every way! How complex your design problem might be: CATIA will enable you to solve it. Then I like the way you’re able to organize the operations all the way through the parametric modelling process, it gives you the feeling of total control. The visualization while working is just a pleasure, it definitely gives you the feeling you’re working almost on a real physical model.

| Which are the CATIA products you have been using to create your product, and why did you decided to use these tools?

CATIA Imagine & shape. It enables you to create complex shapes in an intuitive way.



… and discover the Best of Video of participants.

YouTube Preview Image


Jury board members


Philippe, Ichiro-san, Sam, Matthieu, Sebastiens, Frederic, Pierre




Thanks to our partner Print Value




SoBuzzy CEO’s Take on The Future of Virtual Events

By Kate
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Modern living provides us with a growing assortment of Virtual:  reality, world, pavilion, events, etc.

Given Shanghai’s Virtual World Expo (have you been?) and the burgeoning concept of virtual corporate headquarters, I figured it was time to call in an expert.

william-peresMeet SoBuzzy virtual showrooms’ Founder and CEO, William Peres*.

So William . . .

Q1. What’s the closest comparison? Virtual event: classic website, or, virtual event: physical event?

WP: For me a virtual event is only an event. Nowadays, prospects that were coming to our former physical events have changed their way of working. No more money, no more time, little news from one year to the other… So 30-40 percent of the former physical event visitors are now finding their answers on the Internet. We can use search engines, comparison engines, forums or even companies’ websites to find information. So people stay at home.

An event is the best way to have access to all the actors of a domain in one location. A virtual event will at least allow that.

Q2. Do virtual worlds have real potential in the corporate world?

WP: In the B2C environment maybe. But I don’t think that a virtual world will help a company work better, except when people are far away from each other.

For instance, a virtual conference will be helpful if we have 3D objects to share, brainstorm about and discuss.  If using the virtual world to only be represented by an avatar, I don’t think that will help.

Q3. Will it become mainstream for employees to attend virtual corporate events, trade shows and meetings? What are the blocking points, and what needs to happen to facilitate this?

WP: The blocking and missing point is mainly the physical contact with people. However, realistic avatars, video or classical chats and future developments will help to fulfill the needs.

Another point is that we often try to reproduce a physical way of communicating in the virtual world. I don’t think it’s the best thing to do because one will automatically be frustrated. It will never be real! That’s why we have to develop functionalities we cannot have in real life, in order to save time and be more convinced about the usage.

Q4. How can you get participation from today’s mature workforce, or is this just for those starting their professions or future employees?

WP: Of course the gap will be greater for mature people than for the Y generation who are used to that environment. However, do we plan to target everybody when we launch something? Even if 30 percent of the targetable prospects come into that new way of life, it’s better than losing them.

Anyway, I didn’t think that my mother would go on Internet or send an email one day…

Q5. Any predictions of the future of virtual events?

WP: Virtual fairs and events will not replace all corresponding physical ones. Depending on the domains, or the location, a virtual event would help to support a physical one. Remember that they only take place into big capitals and cities. Internet is 7/7, 24/24 and everywhere.

Moreover, limiting the negative impact of human activity on the environment is everybody’s concern. Virtual events fully support this initiative by offering innovative and environment friendly solutions.

Merci William for your answers!

And YOU, what predictions do you have regarding the future of virtual events?



*Disclosure: William used to work for Dassault Systèmes.

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