The woman who shapes products

Giving our products their distinctive "face": this is the job of industrial designer Stefanie Gügel-Wild and her team colleagues. Our product design is backed by a complex development process based on design thinking and user experience. Learn more in part three of our #Futureshaper series.
Katja Gäbelein
Published on 4. April 2022

Join our UX team!

Are you passionate about human-centered design? Then join our User Experience team in India and design medtech that solves real-life challenges!

<p><strong id="isPasted">The words "Maker Space" are written in large letters on the wall of the workshop where our product designers make their initial simple prototypes – often from foamcore board and glue. And, for this job, you really do have to be a "maker":</strong>&nbsp;</p><p>"Product designers should be born with a measure of artisanal talent," says Stefanie Gügel-Wild, laughing. But creating a product design takes far more than just that, particularly when it comes to complex medical devices.</p><p>Stefanie's first medical technology project close to her heart was to design an incubator for preterm infants. She developed the design as part of her thesis while she was at the Schwäbisch Gmünd University of Applied Design, studying <a href="industrial%20and%20product%20design">industrial and product design</a> : "At university you learn the basic design principles and processes. And this should put you in a position to design any product," explains the designer.</p><p>Stefanie's first jobs involved an appropriately diverse range of work: She designed children's furniture, toys, and accessories for a manufacturer of children's products. Then for a number of years it was electronic devices such as televisions, radios, and speakers as well as kitchen appliances for a major consumer electronics producer. Yet, the complexity of medical devices never ceased to fascinate her, leading her to join Siemens Healthineers in 2019, where she works today on the Design Team as Lead Industrial Designer.</p>
The terms "product design" and "industrial design" are often used synonymously.

#Futureshaper: Portrait von Stefanie Gügel-Wild

<p>How are new products created at Siemens Healthineers? As Stefanie explains in her <a href="#Futureshaper">#Futureshaper</a> interview, technical developers from the various business segments usually approach the Design Team once planning for a new product is underway. "It's important first of all to understand what precisely the problem is that we're trying to solve with this product?"</p>
Whether technical developer, creative business manager, or product designer: in our #Futureshaper series, we introduce employees whose innovative ideas contribute to shaping the future of healthcare.
Learn more
<p>The design of a product never just serves some "decorative" end in itself: Its form follows the function that the product has for users and patients. All design considerations focus on serving people. "User experience" is the keyword here: The product should be intuitive to operate, and offer its users real added value. This is why every project begins with a detailed user survey, for example in hospitals or among physicians. What specific requirements do users have?</p><p><br></p>
<p>Besides the information they glean from user surveys, product designers need wide-ranging background knowledge and further research. Working in collaboration with the technical developers and colleagues from the <a href="User%20Experience%20Team">User Experience Team</a>, they clarify questions like: What installation space do the technical components require inside the product? What operating elements are needed? What processes will later be used to manufacture the product and its individual components? What requirements arise from hygiene regulations? And, how much can the final product cost?</p>

Our UX Team is looking for support! Curious to learn more? View the current recruitment postings here:

Our current job openings
<p>This is where Stefanie's work really kicks into high gear. And it takes endurance: "From the first draft to market launch, the process of developing a medical technology product takes two to three years on average," explains the 42-year-old.&nbsp;<br><br>During this time frame, the product designers build any number of various models, called mockups. This process involves not only cutting, gluing, and screwing, but also simulating and testing in digital 3D spaces using software for computer-aided 3D modeling, or even virtual reality headsets.&nbsp;<br><br>The team pursues its development of new product designs by applying a specially defined system based on the <a href="%22design%20thinking%22">"design thinking"</a> method :</p>
A people-centric innovation method that serves to solve problems and develop new ideas. Interdisciplinary teams pursue their work based on a multi-stage creative process. The goal is to find the best solution for users.
<p>Throughout the development process, Stefanie and her colleagues collaborate closely with the patent lawyers in the Intellectual Property Department to protect their designs internationally against plagiarism. Unlike invention patents covering technical developments, a <a href="design">design</a> right legally protects aesthetic aspects. Protection covers not only the shape of a device, but also the complete detailed design in terms of form and color. Siemens Healthineers holds over 1,600 such designs rights worldwide.<br><br>In terms of their visual design, every product from Siemens Healthineers is to some extent unique. Yet, a specified core design system is of course also in place for product design, geared to create a distinctive, unmistakable look that stands for the brand values. This overarching design system at Siemens Healthineers is called "Shui". Stefanie helped to draw up the industrial design specifications for this system:</p>
"(...) the (...) appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colors, shape, texture (...) of the product itself or its ornamentation."

<p>The Industrial Design Team has won several different awards for its work. For its design of the MAGNETOM Free.Max magnetic resonance scanner, the team took home the <a href="Red%20Dot%20Design%20Award">Red Dot Design Award</a> in 2021. Stefanie was the design lead responsible for the result.</p>

The Red Dot Design Award is an international design competition for product design.

Learn more
#Futureshaper: “Red Dot” winner MAGNETOM Free.Max
<p>The statement by the jury reads: "The MAGNETOM Free.Max surprises people with its unusual dimensions and masterfully puristic design."<br><br>Two key product advantages of the <a href="https://MAGNETOM Free.Max">MAGNETOM Free.Max</a> are decisively related not just to the innovation in its technical form, but also to its design: the scanner's transport height, and the diameter of the patient bore. "In the past, hospital walls sometimes had to be torn down to get an MRI scanner into the building," Stefanie explains. With a transport height of less than two meters, the MAGNETOM Free.Max easily fits through normal doorways.</p>
Find out more about the MAGNETOM Free.Max:
MAGNETOM Free.Max product page
<p>Another exceptional feature is the large patient bore, with a diameter of <a href="80%20centimeters">80 centimeters</a> – the widest of any whole-body MRI scanner ever built. This puts patients who are anxious, claustrophobic, or very corpulent at greater ease, allowing more comfortable examinations.</p>
The standard diameter of MRI scanner bores is 60 or 70 centimeters.
<p>The success of the <a href="team">team</a> has always been the most important thing for her, says Stefanie. When she finally stands in front of a finished product after such a long development period, it fills her with pride: "And if on top of everything else, we also win an award, that's of course fantastic."</p>

Are you also interested in joining our passionate team?

Visit our careers portal
<p>Does the profession of product designer affect her private life in any way? "You obviously look at everyday products through different eyes. Whether it's architecture, fashion or cars: everything has its own design, sometimes better, sometimes not so good. There's a saying that designing isn't actually a profession, but a calling. So, in your private life, you can't of course switch off completely." Stefanie admits with a laugh that, when building her own home, she even shadow-mapped her terrace by computer simulation in a 3D program: "What angle will the sun shine at, how much shade is needed…" True makers don't leave anything to chance.</p><p><br></p>

By Katja Gäbelein

Katja Gäbelein works as an editor in corporate communications at Siemens Healthineers, and specializes in technology and innovation topics. She writes for text and film media. 

Assistant editor: Guadalupe Sanchez