All-in-one design firm creates total experience
By Erica Sagon
December 23, 2003

If Patrick Scofield wants coffee, he might just pour himself a cup. But if it's an experience that he's looking for, he'll stop in at Starbucks.

That's how the owner of Concept Designworx relates the idea of experience-based design, a new direction for industrial design.

The owner of the Mesa company carries it out by first understanding how people interact with a product and then designing it - and accompanying print, Web and branding elements - not the other way around.

Scofield wanted to carve a niche in the sweeping design field. When he shifted from employee to entrepreneur 13 years ago, he resisted the push to classify his business as an industrial design, graphic design or consulting firm.

Customers wouldn't get his strategy, his critics warned.

"People said, 'You can't do all these things,' " Scofield recalled. "And I said, 'Yes, you can.' "

With a team of six, the company has worked with corporations such as Airbus, Motorola, Honeywell International, Unisys and ASML.

When clients asked what Concept Designworx could do for their business, Scofield used to have a "little bit of this, little bit of that" answer. Scofield refocused his business five years ago; now, he tells them he simply wants to understand his client's customers and create memorable experiences for consumers.

Gina Bowman started working with Scofield a year ago when she sought advertising for her Mesa-based company, Korral Kool.

Scofield created a new logo and sales materials to market Bowman's cow-cooling system.

"We took a 25-year-old company and brought it up to something current, new and fresh," Bowman said.

Consulting firms that Bowman worked with in the past gave her limited solutions, but Scofield presented four or five alternatives, she said.

"I think (Scofield) is so open-minded," Bowman said. "He's a very outside-the-box thinker."

Over her year with Scofield, Bowman has noticed a larger crowd at trade show displays, and that's one way she knows Concept Designworx has improved Korral Kool's profile.

Concept Designworx has massaged its own shape over the years.

The company outgrew a downtown Phoenix office, as well as one in Tempe. About five years ago, the firm moved into its current space at the Falcon Field Airport in Mesa.

Scofield said he needs a workshop, a place to be boisterous and messy - a hangar. From the colorful iMac monitors perched on workstations to the pale hardwood floor laid by Scofield himself, the office's urban interior conforms to the company's guiding principles. Just outside the unconventional conference room - two neutral leather sofas and a floor-to-ceiling projection TV - there's a Space Duel arcade game blinking away.

According in Jacques Giard, director of the School of Design at Arizona State University, Scofield has tuned in to the fundamental shift that is occurring in the industrial design trade, where designers are focusing on the experience associated with objects.

"I have a suspicion that within 10 years this will be commonplace," said Scofield, an ASU alumni and guest lecturer.

According to Giard, survival is difficult for businesses like Concept Designworx. Design principles, such as visual appeal, often clash with business factors, such as cost-cutting.

About 18,000 companies, most employing just five to 20 people, make up the national industrial design industry, according to Kristina Goodrich, CEO of the Industrial Designers Society of America.

ZenithOptimedia, a media services agency, predicts ad spending in the United States could reach $146.7 billion this year.

Both industries have plenty of small companies, like Concept Designworx, fighting for their share of the market.

Scofield said he'd rather have an organization with personality and flavor over a large, impersonal corporation.

Concept Designworx, Inc.