Product Line for SA Baxter Architectural Hardware
What you see here is a collection of CAD models & renderings. Some of these designs were manufactured, while others were modeled solely for concept. As Senior Designer at SA Baxter, my role was multi-dimensional. Not only did I need to drive new product development; I also had to work closely with manufacturing engineers to better understand the challenges that are unique to investment casting and moldmaking, as well as the challenges that are unique to manufacturing high-quality door hardware. I became immersed in the entire development process; I was not limited to the conceptual or stylistic aspects of product design. In hindsight, this proved to be one of the biggest advantages of being an in-house designer at a manufacturing firm, especially one that produces premium products that are not intended for mass-production.
Design Process + Prototyping
A couple of rough sketches and early 3D printed prototypes. Sketching isn't something I always do, but I certainly can if need be. Being a designer at a start-up company with no existing product line sometimes forces you to find ways to work faster in order to turn ideas into real products. This was often the case at SA Baxter, so I sometimes went straight from an idea in my head to modeling it in CAD. Luckily, I have my mind's eye to thank for this. On the other hand, being able to design a company's inaugural product line is truly a unique opportunity that offers many rewards and challenges that as a designer you wouldn't experience otherwise.
One of the most interesting aspects of producing high-end door hardware is the unique manufacturing process that is involved. That process is called Investment Casting (or Lost-Wax Casting) , a manufacturing method that dates back at least 5,000 years and is widely used to this day, across a number of industries and in a variety of applications. At SA Baxter, this old manufacturing technique is combined with modern, digital fabrication methods such as CNC machining, and Rapid Prototyping (3D Printing). This is a very powerful combination, as it allows for great flexibility in the design process. However, it is also a very complex operation which involves a large number of steps, each of which requires a high level of expertise and precision. In the company's early days, shortly after coming onboard, I relocated from its corporate design studio in NYC to its custom-built foundry in the Hudson Valley. While there, I was still designing and developing product, but I was also spending lots of time with manufacturing engineers and consultants in order to better understand the manufacturing process, which consequently allowed me to optimize my designs for efficiency.
The final product is truly one-of-a-kind. Solid cast and made to order, every piece is unique in its own way. Its also interesting to note that none of these pieces are mass-produced, and they are typically sold on a commission basis, namely by architects and interior designers from all over the world. For these reasons, I've categorized my hardware design as being "Niche Market" products.