Doreen Lorenzo: Why Design Is The Key To Solving Everyday Problems [PSFK 2014]

The President of design company Quirky chats about the magic that happens when you harness the creative potential of the crowd.

In anticipation of the PSFK CONFERENCE 2014, we spoke with the President of Quirky, Doreen Lorenzo, who will be presenting on the conference stage with Linda Boff, the Executive Director of GE’s Global Marketing Department. Quirky is a crowdsourced product design company that has recently partnered with GE to harness the creative potential of the crowd to solve any kind of design challenge.

You’ve now been at Quirky for six months. What has been the biggest surprise and the biggest challenge?

I haven’t really uncovered surprises. My expectations were aligned with what I thought going in. Quirky was a passionate start up that just needed some minimal control to the chaos. The biggest challenge was the passion of our community and how we need to continually fold them into our business. Traditional companies listen to the shareholders once a year. We do it everyday.

What advantages does Quirky have over more traditional product design and manufacturing companies?

Our community is solving everyday problems. We are in touch with the heart and soul of the end user. This is a designer’s holy grail. Most product companies are separated from their end users. Companies rely on their R&D and product managers to produce the next new thing. We rely on the people that would use it to tell us what they want.

What are the advantages of these collaborating with established brands like GE? Do you see Quirky pursuing more partnerships?

GE is allowing us to do larger, more complex products. They are synonymous with invention and it seems right that we should be working together. Our goal is to bring new Quirky + GE consumer products to market. We have many requests for partnerships and we are evaluating all of them.

As the products being produced become more complex, how do you streamline the crowd design process? How does that change the internal functions of the Quirky team?

The products are more complex, but the ideas still come from the community. The community submits many complex ideas. Last year, 20% of our ideas were complex connected products.

From an internal standpoint it just meant adding additional skill sets, EE, firmware, QA to produce these products.

What should we look forward to seeing from Quirky in 2014?

We have a breadth of interesting products across our categories. We just announced AROS, our smart AC unit, we have several other new products that will be unveiled over the course of the year.

What’s one thing we can look forward to (without giving too much away) in your talk at PSFK CONFERENCE 2014?

You’ll just have to attend to find out!

Thanks Doreen!

Check out our conference page to see more of innovative industry leaders who will be speaking at our event.

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