When Stefan Clauss and Stefan Schulze-Dieckhoff dreamed of an inflatable tent, they had the energy and drive to develop the concept, but needed to iron out the important details. Initially hiring a team of engineers to make it happen, they quickly spent most of their budget, and according to feedback and insights they received, it was less and less feasible to put the tent into mainstream production.
Our experience in lean product development, and our capacity for innovation, meant that we could hit the ground running when Heimplanet approached us. We used proven technology to avoid time-consuming technical testing and started prototyping with minimum viable products so that we could immediately gain user insights and feedback. We even sewed the first prototype ourselves! We had a few false starts – we explored a construction that included only one inflatable layer, but this was impractical and detracted from the intuitive and seamless user experience that Heimplanet had first imagined – but our low-cost product development process meant this didn’t severely impact the company’s bottom line.
„Together with Noto, we were able to consequently make the sometimes radical – but necessary – decisions in all phases of product development, right up to the implementation.“
Stefan Clauss, Co-Founder & CEO / Heimplanet
Looking at similar production methods, we found inspiration in the world of kite-surfing. These large, durable kites utilise inflatable structures in order to hold their form. We adapted this idea into The Diamond Grid, the iconographic design form that became the base for Heimplanet’s tent designs. The idea was original: an inflatable exoskeleton with a fabric outer shell, stitched together to help the tent keep its form. This archetypal construction combined stability and performance with visual impact – the best ingredients for a winning outdoor lifestyle product.
Our knowledge of Heimplanet as a fledgling start-up informed our design decisions. We wanted the product development process to be as cost-effective as possible, without compromising the quality of the design. All of the design elements, including valves and connectors, were existing components brought together in a new configuration. With the assistance of two Chinese manufacturers who had expertise in tent and kite production, which we orchestrated to work together, we were able to produce affordable prototypes to push the envelope and discover what was possible.
We invited experienced outdoor journalists to test the product. Never a group to mince their words, their honest feedback and insights, including their experience with other brands, helped us to eliminate flaws in the product and hone in on key details.
The Cave was a roaring success. From there, we helped create two further designs for different tents, in the process laying a foundation for the brand to thrive. Today, Heimplanet is a respected and coveted outdoor lifestyle brand, rooted in innovation, with a fresh approach to design.
Our partnership with Heimplanet was also an interesting start-up venture story – read it here.