Jeff Smith

Class of 1993

Design Director/Principal at Reflex Design, Inc.

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Biography

Jeff Smith has been with Reflex Design, Inc. since graduating RIT in 1993. At the annual RIT/IDSA merit award, Jeff placed first runner up. One of the judges, Jim Gresko (RIT) hired Jeff at the then one month old Reflex Design, Inc. A few years later, Jeff became the leader at Reflex.

The small design company was initially started as the primary Design house for Greenmaster Industrial corp. (Taiwan). Greenmaster manufactures and sells home fitness products worldwide under various brands (in addition to OEM products). Reflex continues to be an integral piece of the expanding innovative product line produced at Greenmaster.

Around 1998, Jeff expanded Reflex in order to offer design services to outside clients. This external client base has grown to account for 50% of the total design business. The diversification of projects has become a positive influence for the design staff.
For a designer, contrasting types and markets
of products compliments future development
of ideas on all projects.

As a passionate supporter of Design Education, Jeff joined the faculty at the Art Institute of Ft Lauderdale in 2000 as an adjunct professor. This support worked up to two classes per quarter and a total of six rotating classes.  After concluding teaching
in 2008, Jeff continued education support by
traveling to various design schools hosting
workshops and presentations.

Jeff also served two consecutive terms as Florida IDSA Chapter Chair. While in this position, Jeff helped to plan a handful of Southern district conferences. Through this experience, Jeff has also hosted and presented at various IDSA conferences.

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About the Product

This project began its life as an engineering innovation project. Reflex Design has participated in several innovation and brainstorming projects with Jarden, CS. Working with several engineers and project managers, the priority was to innovate in the home humidifier market. Our task was to use several existing internal fan motors from current suppliers
in addition to off the shelf filter elements.

The various brainstorm meetings led to a set of concepts with new features and benefits for the consumer. Several directions were selected by the team and an engineering test file was created by
the Reflex team in Solidworks. From these files,
a test bed product (for each concept) was grown
and assembled. These functional prototypes went through testing and internal consumer review at Jarden, CS. A final direction rose to the top and was slated for a full product development cycle.

For this product, Reflex was selected for the Industrial Design work. Sometimes, we are not selected. Jarden is a large company and works with a diverse set of ID resources. Being flexible on how you support client needs has been beneficial to Reflex as the company has grown.

The project went through a traditional development of concepts around the innovation and engineering work that had occurred in the first project.

The concepts were refined several times as the parameters of the product evolved. As with many other products, this one needed to “live” within several brands. Simple economy of scale makes this a necessary part of some products. This creates an interesting challenge. How to keep as many parts the same as possible. At the same time, making the specific part count (for one brand) and low as possible.   

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About the Product

This product ended up being slated for three distinct brands. The console and grill area on top became the main differentiating part for the brands. Vent patterns and graphic layout (and features) matched the specific brand targets. In addition, the front panel color and graphic were open to variations. Reflex design constructed surface, solid body parts and assemblies for communication with the end manufacturer.

One of the most interesting points on this project was the tanks. They were designed to accommodate a current cap and valve system. The challenge was how to store them inverted, and allow the user to remove one tank form the product while the other was completely full (and not make a giant mess). In addition, how the user would easily remove the tank with 2.5 gallons of water in it, transport it and/or fill in an ergonomic manner. Working through this challenge was interesting and created a unique design and engineering detail on the back of the product.  Technically, if this works correctly, the user may never notice it (and that is a good thing).

Humidifier manufactured for Sunbeam, Holmes, Bionaire, & Kenmore