Economic Development, Human Resources, and Manufacturing

Manufacturer opens 100-person product design center

May 30, 2014
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Newell Rubbermaid Kalamazoo Design Center
The Newell Rubbermaid Design Center in Kalamazoo brings together talent and capabilities under one roof to "accelerate design and innovation as a competitive advantage." Courtesy Newell Rubbermaid

A diversified maker of several household brand names is moving into its product design center, which will be staffed by approximately 100 design professionals at full capacity.

Atlanta-based Newell Rubbermaid, an S&P 500 company, said last week that it opened a 40,000-square-foot design center in Kalamazoo, which it called the “heart of the vibrant southwestern Michigan community of design-led companies.”

Cross-brand collaboration

The facility has been carefully planned to foster creativity and maximize the sharing of ideas and technologies among the company's brands: Sharpie, Paper Mate, Rubbermaid Commercial Products, Irwin, Lenox, Parker, Waterman, Rubbermaid, Levolor, Calphalon, Goody, Graco, Aprica and Dymo.

A large, open studio space provides the ideal environment for designers to collaborate using advanced software tools. Immersion labs for each of the company's business segments will enable design and marketing teams to evaluate product prototypes and imagine the possibilities of future product roadmaps.

New designs can be built, tested and painted in the on-site model shop. A usability lab will enable the newly created usability team to interact with consumers and end-users to create better product experiences. There is also a professional photography studio.

Staff members possess diverse, global experience across new and existing capabilities, including graphic and industrial design, usability, as well as color, material and trend analysis.

"We have conversations with millions of consumers through our products every day and through great design and innovation, we will elevate these conversations to a new level," said Chuck Jones, chief design and research and development officer, Newell Rubbermaid. "Our new design center brings together all the disciplines in design and innovation under one roof to collaborate across our entire portfolio of great brands."

Economic development

“We appreciate the support of Governor Rick Snyder, the state of Michigan, Southwest Michigan First, the city of Kalamazoo and Western Michigan University to help make our new design center a reality," said Michael Polk, president and chief executive officer, Newell Rubbermaid. "Kalamazoo is the ideal location to plant the seeds for bigger, better innovations that will build our brands for the long term."

Polk added that the opening of the design center "represents another step forward in our ambition to become a design and innovation-led company.”

Newell Rubbermaid

Newell Rubbermaid, founded in 1903 in Ogdensburg, N.Y., started making rustproof curtain rods. Today, the company makes products like pens, cookware, drill bits, strollers, hairbrushes and much more.

In 2013, the company's sales reached $5.7 billion. 

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