Question of the week: How do I Hire the Right Designer for me?
Another fantastic Design Sojourn Reader Question! This week its by Fred from Switzerland. He writes:
I am an avid reader of your blog. I like it’s broad scope and honest
opinions. I also like beautiful well-designed products.
Which brings me to my question about industrial design. You see,
we’re a group of friend with a clever idea for an electronic gadget
and we need an industrial designer.
Here in Switzerland, there’s no shortage of watch designers, and we
found one we think is good but he has little experience in
electronics “enclosures”. I would value you expert advice on this
point: is it important?
The short answer is basically yes and no. Let me explain.
A while back I wanted to do some bottle packaging design work, but my portfolio had a tons of well developed consumer electronic products. I was rejected from the job, because the person, an advertising type non-designer, felt I had no experience in packaging work and thus not suitable for the job. However if the person truly understood the design process he would have seen a design methodology or process based deep in researching and understanding the market and consumer as well as, excellent understanding multiple manufacturing processes. In fact I would consider a bottle design a walk in the park in terms of complexity.
You see the Industrial Design profession is build on a foundation of a strong methodical process that can be easily applied to the designing of many things. From toothbrushes, cars, furniture, or a pen, the process most designers take is more or less the same.
So back to your problem. You see a designer’s portfolio is a reflection of the potential of his work, so if you can find a designer that has done consumer electronics then that’s great. But if you cannot, then the answer is not so cut and dry. I would consider the following points when looking to hire a designer or help:
1) Does the designer you are intending to hire have a strong design process and understanding in what it takes to make a product?
2) If he/she is more of a design stylist I would be more concern if he/she can produce a product that would satisfy your brief.
3) That being said, does his design style meet your branding and marketing requirements? No point getting someone like Philip Starck if your product is meant to be a serious business to business solution.
4) Is your potential designer hire experienced enough and have a portfolio of varied and well developed products?
5) Finally can your potential hire exhibit a good understanding in manufacturing processes and materials?
I hope this helps Fred and all best of luck in your hunt!