Designer Insider

Behind-the-scenes: How Designer Tim Rochford Innovates

After chatting with our Design Director, Tim Rochford, about his career in part one of our series – if you missed it, read it here – we discussed more about his work as Design Director at Schneider Electric.

Getting the insider info on how products come to life, how his team continually delivers great work with a customer-first approach – as well as an exclusive hint about an exciting upcoming release.

Tim sketching designs

Who’s involved and how do they work together?

Just as his process is fluid and inclusive, as is how the teams work together. ‘You want everyone from every stage involved’ urges Tim. 

‘Engineering should be part of the design process, design part of the engineering process, etc – swapping stuff back and forth between us’ explains Tim. For although their different skills, expertise and experience between the different teams, Tim emphasises that they’re ‘unified by the same purpose.’

What’s the purpose? The product purpose might be different for each product, but the fundamental design goal for all products is to deliver an amazing product, at the right price for the customer.

'We focus on the people who use that product – who’s buying it, who’s living with it. We remove our own personal motivations and remember whose situation we want to improve.’ For ‘improving the situation’ with each product is what true innovation is to Tim.  

The 2AX Connected Smart Switch Module

So, which product is your favourite and why?

‘The 2AX Connected Smart Switch Module’ answers Tim. ‘It turns your ordinary switch to any kind of switch.’

The Red Dot Design Award-winning switch is instrumental in enabling smart home functionality and while it ‘seems like nothing – the amount of energy and effort it saves is huge’ describes Tim.

‘It challenged the engineers but all the constraints enabled a great technical solution and a great end result for the electrician’ he adds. ‘Plus, fundamentally, it’s a cool looking thing!’

family dining with saturn zen fans

What’s been your favourite project?

‘Projects are long, so my favourite is actually upcoming and something I can’t talk about yet as it hasn’t launched’ teases Tim. ‘But the way we’ve worked together on this project through COVID and the innovative ways we’ve found to deliver such a product is amazing.’

‘The blood, sweat, tears and teamwork that’s gone into the product to make it so much better. It’s not an incremental change either – we’ve defined the product category, everyone copied and now we’re changing the game… BUT we’re doing it because there’s a need’ hints Tim. 

Now we all have no choice but to watch this space…

Clipsal tools

To finish, tell us a surprising fact about Clipsal. 

‘Clipsal and Schneider Electric maintain a significant amount of engineering in South Australia. It’s not just a historical legacy or because it’s cheap and easy, it’s active and deliberate because we understand the need to localise and know the market in which we operate’ tells Tim.

He also threw in a fun fact, ‘some people don’t know the name ‘Clipsal’ comes from the first product they ever created which was a clip that clipped all sizes – so it’s ‘clips ALL.’  

To wrap up, we ask Tim about what he wants customers to know – but he explains it’s not about what he wants the customers to know. ‘As long as customers are using products in a way that is enjoyable for them’ says Tim, ‘that’s all that matters. It’s not about me or the business – it’s about them.’