Newell Brands recently centralized design and innovation capabilities at its Design Center in Kalamazoo to leverage the creative power of a diverse pool of talent collaborating across functions and seamlessly sharing best practices.
The co-location of designers with skill sets ranging from industrial design to new capabilities such as product usability, to graphic design, color and trend forecasting and more, is manifesting in bigger, better ideas across Newell Brands' business segments.
Meet some of the designers driving design-led thinking and innovation at the Design Center every day:
John Lenneman, Principal, Usability Specialist
John Lenneman is a local guy, born and raised in Michigan. He built his career in Michigan, so he was one of the great talents we were able to access in the local area. John is a psychologist, with a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and a Ph.D. in Applied Experimental Psychology. His field of specialty is in the application of cognitive and perceptual theory to product development. His specialty is in understanding and interpreting how people process what they see and how they interact with a product. John spent 15 years in the automotive industry, and brings a wealth of knowledge around how people interact with products. He joined Newell three months ago and he absolutely loves it.
“My passion is designing products that our users enjoy and that they can incorporate seamlessly into their lives.”
Monica Lichty, Leader, User Experience Research
Monica Lichty has always wanted to be involved in changing and improving things. She also likes being able to see the results of her work, so the Design Center is a perfect fit for her, career wise. Monica was always good at math and science, but she also loves art and design. Monica spends her days studying how people interact with products, and she loves that about her job. It’s the ability to make a tangible difference that really excites her. At the Design Center, her feedback is used to improve the product and the user experience.
“I have a fascination with people and how they interact with things. Seeing where people fail, and what causes that, is the most intriguing, because then I can find a way to ensure that they don’t fail.”
Martin Scheppan, Senior Manager of Graphic Design for Writing and Dymo
Martin Scheppan, a native of Munich, is a Senior Manager of Graphic Design for Writing and Dymo. He’s been with Newell for nine years, but he recently made the move from a graphic design group in Germany to the new Design Center in Kalamazoo. His background is in Applied Science and Engineering, with a specialty in Interior Architecture. Martin has been with the company since 2005, when he joined Irwin Tools as an Industrial Designer. By 2008 he was leading graphic design for all brands in EMEA. His skill in design made him a standout within the design community at Newell, so when the decision was made to consolidate all the designers in one location, he was given the opportunity to cross the Atlantic and join the team.
“I really jumped at this opportunity, because it offered a global scope, which is very exciting,“ he said. ”This is a great atmosphere and one that I’ve never experienced before. I expect in the coming few years to grow rapidly, both personally and professionally, as a result of this opportunity. I’m like a sponge right now, soaking everything in, and I expect that feeling to continue.“
Lea Stewart, Senior Manager Industrial Design, Baby & Parenting
Lea Stewart supports the design team developing products for Newell Brands baby brands globally. Lea is one of many designers with a diverse background at the new Design Center. Before joining the team in 2012, she had experience in both agency and corporate settings. She studied Industrial Design at Altos De Chavon, Escuela de Diseno, Glasgow School of Art and earned a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from Philadelphia University. Prior to her role with Baby and Parenting, she was responsible for the Commercial Products industrial design team.
“Working for an innovation-led and insight-driven company is an amazing experience for a designer because it changes the way the company interacts with its customers and consumers,” she says. “Innovation-led companies are strategic, can take risks, and their customers appreciate that. We are also thinking about our user base – globally – showing empathy, and thinking big to meet their needs.”
Stefaan Van-Den-Broecke, Senior Manager Industrial Design, Writing
Stefaan Van Den Broecke joined Newell Brands in 2007 as a master in industrial design. His first mission was to build an internal design team for the Dymo Brand in Belgium. Together they designed several successful Dymo label printers. With his ongoing commitment for design, he led the creation of a user driven design language. He also demonstrated how strategic design and innovation could help shape the future of a brand through concept generation informed by user trends, business context and technological foresight.
Today he's heading the team that is responsible to create new products for the everyday writing brands like Paper Mate, Sharpie and Expo. The recent launch of the Paper Mate InkJoy Gel pen is the first signature product that got designed from the ground up by his team in Kalamazoo.
Stefaan is proud to be part of the design center in Kalamazoo: "When we started this story, we started it with a great building that featured everything to bring great user driven design. Today the team managed to transform the building into a companywide beating hub of creativity and cross functional collaboration. The design opportunities for all the Newell Brands keep growing!"