I’m sure most of you would have probably heard of Scott Wilson’s little entrepreneurship adventure on Kickstarter, the TikTok and LunaTik iPod Nano watch? FastCo Design, then Cool Hunting and Gizmodo picked up the project and as a result, Scott raised USD$91K in two days. At the time of this article’s writing, 6 days since the launch, the project has amassed USD$276,984. Much more than the USD$15K originally asked for. Congrats Scott!

This comes hot on the heels of another successful Design Entrepreneurship venture The Glif, which is a tripod mount for the iPhone 4. Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost asked for $10K and got a cool USD$137,417 instead. Congrats guys!

So one is a highly famous Industrial Designer running his own consultancy and the other, a pair of spunky super tired (looking) designers.

Right, now back to the TikTok. As I know Scott is on Twitter I shot him a tweet in the off chance he might reply. Here is the conversation trail on Twitter.

@scottwilsonid I’m curious, could u not have self funded your project?less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

This is probably the number 1 question on the top of everyone’s mind!

@designsojourn Interested too – I’ve always seen kickstarter as a platform for those at the bottom of the pile – @scottwilsonidless than a minute ago via web

@jasecoop I’m having similar thoughts as the post. I suspect they are pledging production NOT manufacturing. $15k is low I suspect.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

Scott, who is a mutual friend on Twitter, probably caught wind of the conversation and replied using the Twit-longer app. I’ve reproduce the full reply below:

@designsojourn @jasecoop Good “?”. Actually not. We are a 6 person studio. Funding tooling, minimum order quantities from factory, travel to factory, etc costs more than a small firm can cover/risk. $100k+. Plus this is the new way things will be funded in the future. Empowering creatives of all levels to make their vision without the need for big corps. I hope this inspires designers everywhere. Plus it’s just preorders. Old school way for designers/inventors was to give away over half your company for money.

I continue to banter with Scott and then probe by asking him a second question that everyone probably wanted to know as well.

@jasecoop as suspected 15k is production preorders. @ScottWilsonID thanks for sharing, why not ask the full 100k. The 15k threw ppl off.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

Again Scott answers via Twit-longer reproduced here below:

@designsojourn @jasecoop actually 15k was the tooling. Min orders were 7500 pieces plus packaging duties, Ecommerce site coming… Adds up. Kickstarter recommends keeping $ lower in FAQ. Also if we only raised enough for tooling then we would have had to raise money for inventory and given away big % of equity. As it works out now we don’t! Designers stay in control!

@ScottWilsonID awesome! I like that designers stay in control. A direct path to the consumer without middle men.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

So there you go. I know a lot of people had raised an eyebrow at the thought of a well-known Designer jumping on a bandwagon traditionally seen as one for the struggling design entrepreneur. The thought of someone subverting a system that he is obviously overqualified for is rather painful. However if you look at this as a glass half full scenario, this is a great inspiration for all designers looking to create that self-designed product you never could afford to.

As a Design Entrepreneur myself, I do feel kind of stupid though. Maybe I should be looking at such platforms to fund my projects rather than self-funding them all? Well you live and learn!

We should look beyond, Kickstarter and Scott Wilson, and ponder on the fact that it has now become a level playing field in Design. Design is now democratic if you like. With the Internet, good design can now come from anyone and anywhere, designer and non-designer. You don’t also need a lot of money to fund your design, just passion hours. Even better, you get to validate it without having to pay someone or launching it in the market and learning the hard way. Really, nothing stopping you except yourself.

Image by David Lofink

Design Sojourn Consulting officially opened for business today, and what a day it was! This first momentous day started slowly but ended with a heart pounding and diaphragm aching bang. I’ll tell you more about that story for sure!

I’m really thankful for all my friends (and family) who have rallied behind me with words of wisdom, business advice, job referrals or even just a pat on the back. Because of that support I’m very excited to be able to “open my doors” with a number of possible business opportunities. They include working with an organization to build a multidisciplinary creative culture anchored by design thinking, strategic design consulting work with a new untested brand, and supporting an entrepreneur fulfill his dream.

That being said, I still have capacity and available for hire, so please email me at brian@designsojourn.com if you would like to collaborate with me or know of anyone who would?

So thank you again for all your emails, blog comments, and tweets. I feel so loved!

Kohi Sunrise

Sorry for that cliffhanger of an ending in that last post where I announced that I would be leaving Philips Design at the end of September. I like to be a little dramatic at times and I thought it would be a nice lead in to the story I’m going to tell you today.

So what, you may ask, am I going to do next?

I have spent most of my life working for people, or more accurately, designing for other people and making said people rich! Well not really…but I did decide that it was a time to do something different. Central to this plan, as you probably guessed by now, is Design Sojourn.

If I do a little counting, my Design Sojourn blog has actually been in operation for almost 5 years now! Throughout the history of this website, I have shared my ideas and thoughts on design, bounced these ideas (and sparred) with designers from all over the world. I have even helped and mentored designers whenever I could. I hope such efforts have contributed to the international design industry as a whole and in return allowed me to build some credibility as thought leader in design.

So it is then logical to expand Design Sojourn into other areas beyond just blogging. I plan for Design Sojourn to evolve into a design consultancy and brand management company. Yup, I’m going to be an entrepreneur.

Here are a few more details:

Design Sojourn The Blog

First and foremost Design Sojourn the blog, will continue, but it’s going back to its roots. This blog cut its teeth by helping designers be the best they can be. Design Sojourn was and is all about “How to do good design, and make clever products”. I did, in recent years, evolved this blog into Strategic Design. However I realized that by helping designers become more strategic, it was really still in the same vein of helping designers be the best they can be. Being strategic is the name of the game in today’s design industry.

I have also taken a look at the state of my blog, and I have to say I’m not happy with it. In the recent years, my heavy workloads and family commitments have influenced a drop in the quality of my posts. I had discovered one day that the posts people came to Design Sojourn for were more than 2 years old. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not angry or anything, I have accepted that my priorities and attention were needed elsewhere. I will therefore plan to dedicate more time in writing useful and engaging posts that will make your visit to Design Sojourn worthwhile. Growing Design Sojourn is high on the priority list, with a target of doubling readership in the next six months.

I’m going edgy. Simple but edgy. Oh, and critical too, but constructive critical.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

Finally, now that I am on my own, I will not be tied down nor associated with any brand. I’m now a Design Rōnin. A master-less designer roaming the world and kicking ass! Sorry, too many Akira Kurosawa movies.

Rest assured that I’m not about to take a “dump in my own backyard”, but do expect a more edgy tone, more rants, and of course, constructive criticism. Not being associated to any brand does provide the freedom to have an unbiased view.

Design Sojourn Consulting

After everything, the unfortunate hash realities of life still exist. We still need to eat and I have a mortgage to pay. This is where things here at Design Sojourn will start to be a little different.

Many companies setup a company then a blog to get them going. I’ve actually flipped this approach on its head by turning my blog into a company, Design Sojourn Pte Ltd. Here is what we do:

Design Sojourn is a multi-disciplinary strategic design consultancy.

We see ourselves as guides or translators for clients and partners in their journey in design that will go beyond products and into services, systems and processes. We are also teachers and students at heart, so we are passionate in building creative environments and improving the design industries through training and education.

Anchoring our creative process around the tenets of Joy with Functionality and Simple but Edgy, we offer full end-to-end design solutions that range from commercially savvy design languages that fulfill business needs; to manufacturing viable and resolved designs; to marketing, communications and new media solutions. However we are also nimble and flexible enough to take on that “quick kill” design problem.

No job too big or too small.

I can promise you that other than getting a “Hire me” banner up, and an update to my About page, I will not be constantly reminding you of my consulting services. However, in the coming weeks, I will share more about Design Sojourn Consulting and what it stands for. Especially its design process which, I think, you might be interested to see?

If you, or someone you know, need my services or want to collaborate with me, please do not hesitate to contact me at brian@designsojourn.com. I won’t bite, and if something does come out of this tie-up, I will be in your debt as this will allow me to continue to blog, not to mention pay my mortgage…

Design Sojourn Brand Management

The other thing that Design Sojourn Pte Ltd is going into is Design Entrepreneurship. As Design Producers, we design, develop, and produce products under our own brand or basket of brands. We also work closely with awesome designers to collaborate on products from design to market. When the time is right you will know who these awesome designers are.

I’m sure by now, you also know about our Spaces for Ideas brand? Well you will be pleased to know that we have spun the brand off Design Sojourn and given it its own dedicated site at www.spacesforideas.com. To celebrate the launch of the site this new start, we have reduced the price of the Expandable Sketchbook, so if you have not gotten your Sketchbook yet, do head on over and get one now!

Edit: Due to time commitments, I am unable to run two websites at the same time. Therefore I am re-integrating the Spaces for Ideas store back into Design Sojourn. This should also make it a smoother navigating experience for you as well. Spacesforideas.com will still exist and will be reborn when the time is right. If you can, do check out the Spaces for Ideas store? We will also be expanding the Spaces for Ideas product range to include more sketchbook solutions.

On a side note, SpacesforIdeas.com will focus more on sales transactions and product information. My sharing of development efforts, as well as the design activities will still be here on Design Sojourn. I’m guessing that you don’t want to be bothered with all this blogging noise when you make your purchases or vice versa?

On Design Sojourn, you can expect some announcements as well as the banners you see now. I’ve dumped the ugly Google ads, and will continue to streamline the site’s design so these ads do not overpower your reading experience. However, they will be a necessary evil, as Design Sojourn is the main marketing engine for my Spaces for Ideas products. Please do let me know, if you have any feedback on this matter?


There are a few other things in the works, but they are currently too premature to talk about it now. I’ll let you know as soon as they are ready to fly! All I can say is that they will be quite awesome.

What do you think? Am I out of my mind? Many of you have been part of my own design sojourn right from the start as friends and loyal supporters. It has been a great honor journeying with you and I do hope to get your continued support of this website and in all my future endeavors. Thank you.

The Pre-Order discount is over as this product has launched! Get your sketchbook at the Spaces for Ideas Store now!

Friends, the time has finally come! After spending a number of weeks finalizing the Spaces for Ideas Sketchbook, I can now confidently be in a position to take pre-orders!

Let’s sum up the Spaces for Ideas Sketchbook in my usual favorite way, as a nice succinct marketing tagline?

The Spaces for Ideas Sketchbook: Designed for people not afraid of big ideas!

Specifically, the key points are:

Who should buy it:
1) Creative people not afraid of producing and managing big ideas!
2) Team players looking for a platform for brainstorming with other people.
3) Ardent sketchers tired of pages that seem to run out of space.
4) Mobile nomads seeking affordable and portable sketchbook solutions.
5) Organized people looking for simple solutions for design documentation.

Who is this not for:
1) Creatives who have to sketch on small tables like those found in airplanes. Still a possible solution, as you can sketch on the folded A6 pages.
2) People who are allergic to creases.
3) Designers who have phobias of large empty pages.
4) People who can’t give up their boring standard sketchbooks for a paradigm-changing product!

One of the most challenging parts of this project was having to work out the costing and pricing strategies. I wanted to keep the prices as affordable as possible. However as my initial manufacturing quantities are not high (I’m funding this 100% out of pocket!) these prices are the best I can do at this time. Hopefully in future I can substantially increase the sales volumes and bring the prices down even more!

That being said, I would like to offer you each sketchbook at USD $15. As I much prefer to move volumes, I would encourage you to purchase a set of 5 sketchbooks at USD $60 instead. 5 Sketchbooks at $12 each is a 20% discount I’m giving you as a thank you for not having me queue at the post office for too long!

However to celebrate this momentous occasion and also get this show off to a flying start, I’m going to offer an additional 15% pre-order only discount! This means each sketchbook now costs $12.75 and $51 for 5! This special pre-order discount will last until Sunday 11 April 2010, 11.59pm, when we will have the official launch and all the pre-orders shipped!

The Pre-Order discount is over as this product has launched! Get your sketchbook at the Spaces for Ideas Store now!

Just in case you don’t happen to know what all this fuss is about, check out the background story on how I came up with this design and got it realized:

1) Spaces for Ideas: The Beginning

2) Spaces for Ideas: The First Prototype

3) Spaces for Ideas: The Brand

4) Spaces for Ideas: The Final Prototype

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