Here’s a great example of Lucite International (LI) people embracing the Company vision of shaping the future together. There are many talented creatives among us and it’s fantastic to see the LICC (LI’s plant in China) team’s energy and passion for acrylic result in such an array of design ideas for the material. Small team, but oh so much bigger on the inside! Chris Cowell, GM of LICC, reports on the second ‘internal’ acrylic design competition (iADC).
Time and relative dimension in space – I’ll leave you to figure out the link. It’s the second year of our iADC and another chance to prove that we’re bigger on the inside; bigger in ideas, bigger in imagination, and bigger in capability. Once again, the team has pushed their imagination and the limits of what we would typically see as acrylic products. Working on the basis that these should be designed to support our business rather than forcing our fit to established products. It is a great outcome. Sheet and polymer essentially rely on sheet and polymer products. Unfortunately, such conventional products have not grown in form and function to meet the supply of MMA that we have worked so hard to establish; the pull is missing from our push. In a world of unlimited materials and unforgiving competition, the responsibility for pull has to be ours. We have an obligation to renew our voice, to turn up the volume, and to shout out loud for acrylic. Capturing then amplifying the imagination of our people and customers through the universality of design is a simple and effective way of getting our voices heard. Everywhere.
Linking MMA to acrylic; complete involvement in the design process
We have been deliberately uncomplicated in our approach and purpose to the renewal of acrylic products, in the sense that there is little to no experience in the team of the design process, or working with acrylic. Our purpose is to deepen involvement of the team in tangibly connecting MMA with acrylic. The massive positive outcome of this approach has been to release unlimited imagination with the fire of creativity fed with the clearly striking properties of acrylic; its interplay with light, essential brightness, and formability. Involvement has been complete, with a hunger for ideas and supportive competitiveness across the team.
Viral roll out; encouraging customers to get involved too
This year we have also rolled out the program to a number of our customers, who are engaging their teams in the acrylic design process. I’d like to believe that this viral approach – much like social media – builds the voice of acrylic much more effectively than conventional, linear communication. Enthusiastic adoption by other teams with their customers would add, I think, the critical mass that is needed for acrylic to be heard, as well as establish the fact that we can all be acrylic designers. Try it, it’s deeply satisfying and easy!
Maximizing impact – outside and outsized
The theme this year was ‘outside the box’ – taking acrylic outside and outsized. In part this was chosen to show that acrylic can be truly differentiated from competitive materials, but also because outside is so much bigger than inside; matching our need for unbounded imagination by bringing outside, in. The ideas shared in this article are more conceptual than previous competitions; they’re more daring and aspirational – more challenging. They are also more complete as acrylic rather than sheet or polymer products.
MMA needs the pull of products – re-establishing our push too
To some, the opportunity of imagined products may be overwhelmed by the outward impossibility of making the product; it cannot be made, should not be made! However, the development of fabrication techniques for acrylic has been and remains as important as the material itself. Much like the push of MMA needs the pull of products, the pull of imagined products is required to push advancement in fabrication techniques. The China acrylic market was established by our push to both make MMA available and train local manufacturers how to fabricate products. This push needs to be re-established, so that the appetite for product ideas from our competitively stressed customers can be practically matched to their ability to make such products.
Shaping a more connected business
LI and MRC (Mitsubishi Rayon Co.) have a long history of R&D, with a core of knowledge on fabricating acrylic. However, this knowledge resides, now, in individuals. As such, it is difficult for outlying businesses to access the information essential to advancing product fabrication – difficult because of geographic distance and lack of connectivity, and difficult because of perceived competitive barriers between businesses. By connecting imagination on a personal level with aspirational ideas that could fundamentally change the pull on all of our businesses, distance, connection, and internal competitiveness can and should give way to collaboration on a grand scale. I see the launch of our refreshed vision and values, alongside the power to connect through our intranet, as the perfect way to unleash the capabilities of our people to innovate acrylic design and fabrication. It’s really up to all of us to grasp and use these tools for our collective benefit.
Solidifying ideas, bringing outside perspective through visuals
Visualisation has been key to bringing our designers’ ideas to life. In one-to-one sessions with local design students our people have found a way to free the imagination of their ideas to stunning visualisation. Sketching solidifies the idea, providing the substance of personal connection that is essential for realisation. It also helped our designers to understand and shape their thoughts, so that they could clearly express their ideas in context. It’s an inexpensive addition that ratchets up the power of our ideas while introducing external perspective and capability. This year’s ideas are conceptual in that they give rise to ever more expanding ideas about the ability of acrylic to engage with the individual. Walkways, kiosks and bridges that maintain and enhance your connection with outside, capturing and using light for play and to power your world, and enhancing your relationship with our world. Big, beautiful, boundless. By engaging the imagination of our people and customers we have found a transcending dimension that can truly make us bigger on the inside; TARDIS indeed.