Overview

Whipsaw is an Industrial Design and Engineering consulting firm located in the heart of Silicon Valley, California, founded in 1999 by Dan Harden and Bob Riccomini, both of whom are active principals in the firm. Whipsaw creates products and brand experiences for many diverse industries including housewares, consumer electronics, medical, and business products. Our clients range from start-ups to large International corporations (see WORK ).

Our purpose is to make excellent products and experiences that advance the state of the art while helping people in a meaningful way, and to help our clients succeed. Our solutions aim to support our client’s business objectives, with a goal to increase revenue, improve market position, and enhance corporate value (see BUSINESS RESULTS ).

What are we really good at?

  1. Providing the very highest level of Industrial Design and Engineering quality.
  2. Creating interesting and intuitive products that connect emotionally with end users.
  3. Strategically aligning all elements that make a great product or brand experience (integrating innovation, problem solving, form, function, ease of use, features and cost objectives).
  4. Consistently delivering successful products to the market. For fourteen years Whipsaw has created hundreds of products, many of which became big market hits.

Whipsaw has been recognized around the globe as a leading design firm. We have won over 160 design awards, granted over 200 patents, and published widely (see ACCOLADES). Fast Company magazine named Whipsaw a Top 5 most innovative firm. Our creations are in the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, and the Pasadena Museum of California Art.

One of Whipsaw’s strengths is its team of experienced and talented individuals (see TEAM) Every Whipsaw project team is tailor made for each unique client problem by matching the best individual strengths and skills for the given problem. Our company culture is fun and casual, but also intensely passionate and performance-oriented.

 

Process

To create innovative products and experiences not only requires insight, talent and even genius, it also requires a sound process methodology. Whipsaw’s process methodology starts with people: people working effectively together. We named the company after this staunch belief – a “Whipsaw” is a long two person saw that requires a reciprocal push-pull action by two parties to cut. Each party, whether it is our client or members of our team, holds onto an imaginary handle, pushing and pulling in unison until the problems are solved. Listening to our clients is especially important, with a great deal of attention given to understanding them as a company and as individuals.

The creative process is often chaotic and mysterious. We think a good design process should never confine the dynamic act of creating. Instead we celebrate it. Our program process carefully guides and frames the delicate creative process and never gets in the way of it. Clients are exposed to this creative output but they also see logic, progress, and results along the way.

Every client program process is unique, but we have a general process that is time-proven and highly effective. In general, we start by acquiring a deep understanding of the problem through various forms of research and needs finding. Based on these identified targets we then get hyper creative. We explore a wide range of ideas and delineate the promising ones. Out of this big bang we eventually coalesce into a single winning solution and begin to detail. A complete definition of the product or system is created including all CAD files and specifications. Finally, we manage and support pre-production activities such as prototyping and tooling. From proposal to concept to production, this process is a means to an end, which is the start of production.

Phase 0 – Problem Definition, Analysis, Research, & Planning
Phase 1 – Concept Creation
Phase 2 – Concept Development & Detailing
Phase 3 – Design Implementation & Documentation
Phase 4 – Tooling Support, Pre-Production
                and Continuing Engineering

 
 

Philosophy

We believe that good design and well-made products can truly make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. Whipsaw imagines a world in which all the things we make, use and consume contribute to inspire people in some way.

Our innovation philosophy is akin to the Chinese proverb “If the wind doesn’t blow the grass doesn’t stir”. In other words we have a tenacious drive to resolve tough problems, with an aim to create lasting and positive change.

Whipsaw designers and engineers believe in a holistic approach to problem solving whereby a design is beautiful on the outside and the inside, with form and function inextricably linked.

Creativity is our religion and we evangilize it in every aspect of our practice and company culture.

We think design should be most influenced by the human element, especially one’s personal experience. Design solutions should be informed by psychology, pain points, emotions, culture, and a rigorous study of human factors.

We create an appropriate and unique design statement for each individual client, without dictating our own style. It’s about the right concept, not just a good one.

We believe it’s desirable to give presence and beauty to the things that surround us, whether they are everyday things like baby bottles or advanced high tech machines. We often try to humanize technology by imbuing it with personality and soul.

In engineering our philosophy is pragmatic. We think that precision, ingenuity, collaboration, thoroughness, and timeliness are critical factors that ultimately determine the success of launching a new product. By seamlessly collaborating with the design team and the client, Whipsaw engineering bridges the gap between design and production, providing the technical know-how and cleverness to faithfully execute the original design intent. Also, when necessary we push the limits of engineering and manufacturing in order to elevate the innovation.