Dmitry Vasilev, co-founder & development director at Karfidov Lab tells us about modern-day product design innovations.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Karfidov Lab.
Dmitry Vasilev: I did my undergraduate degree at the National University of Science and Technology MISiS in Metallurgy Engineering in 2012. I met Alexey Karfidov during a research competition at MISIS. At that time, I didn’t know that he would be my future business partner. From the moment that I meet Alexey, we realized that we have a lot in common, especially the passion for computer-aided design (CAD). What in the future would become the foundations of Karfidov Lab (KL). After completing my basic studies, I moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to study in the joint program of Skoltech and MIT I was admitted as one of the top 20 Russian students to study for a Master’s degree in Advanced Manufacturing and Materials.
During my last year of master’s degree in 2014, Alexey and I decided to Launch Karfidov Lab, a dream that today we see materialized. Being one of the most successful companies in consulting and product design in Russia, with a portfolio that today reaches more than 200 completed projects, with partnerships in the USA, Vienna, and Shenzhen. One of our most commemorative projects was the Olympic Torch for 2014 for the Winter Olympic Games, since it was one of our first major projects and that additionally allowed our company a better position in the market.
How does Karfidov Lab innovate?
Dmitry Vasilev: Being one of the most successful engineering consultancy and product design companies in Russia with a vast portfolio of projects for different industries we always try to exceed the expectations of our clients by creating an “additional benefit” due to our high requirements for the product, seeking to optimize the production cost of the prototype, improving ergonomics or discovering its new purpose in the process of work.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Dmitry Vasilev: We know well that the impact of the global pandemic was quite damaging. Many sectors were highly affected. As a company, we decided to see this situation as an opportunity to reduce costs and optimize operations. Since we had a decent amount of contracts signed before 2020, we passed the lockdowns of summer and fall of 2020 easily. However, at the end of 2020, we felt the reduction of clients’ requests. We try to compensate for that decrease, everyone in our sales department is trying to give better proposals to our customers.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Dmitry Vasilev: Having savings is very important.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Dmitry Vasilev: Some of the tools that we used to communicate with each other during the lockdown were Zoom, Slack Trello. All of this software contributed to distributing the tasks by teams, giving feedback and keeping the union as a team. Figma was one of our great discoveries, without a doubt, a software that allows our designers to work in a collaborative environment with the necessary tools.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dmitry Vasilev: Our vision as a company is to lead the market. Therefore our competitors are the best in their specialities Smirnov Design, Art Up Studio, IDEO, Kiska, MNVL, Porsche Design, HYVE, Frog Design, Pentagram, and Seymourpowell, companies that are leaders in Product Design, Engineering Design, Prototyping, and Electronics Development.
Unlike our competitors KL, it offers all the specialities and the ability to produce your product in mass. Another of the qualities that make our company unique is the ability to integrate specialists from different fields such as mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, technicians, and machine shops within the same space. Two of the key factors that are part of the DNA of our products are innovation and exclusivity, but above all, our ability to make products and designs 100% consumer-oriented.
We believe that to position ourselves in the market and the ability to adapt to change is necessary since we live in a world where technology and science advance very fast. Therefore it is necessary to constantly update and adapt. We consider that cooperation and alliances are part of our plan to continue positioning ourselves as one of the leading companies. Within 2021 there will undoubtedly come new challenges, alliances and we will be more present in the European market, which will allow the generation of growth and capitalization for the company.