Sometimes Designers need to Walk the Path on Their Own

I’m always happy to hear of designers that have taken the effort to turn one of their great ideas into reality. I think it is a great learning experience even if the result was a not a success. (Remember you learn more if you fail!) So if you have ever thought about doing the same, I highly recommend that you do so!
I strongly belief that “sometimes designers need to walk the path on their own”. By “path” here, I mean the design process, or more specific to my statement, the attempt to participate in the entire design and product development process. In other words, coming up with an idea, creating a business plan, working out the marketing story, developing the concept, refining it, realizing it in CAD, manufacturing the product, testing it, packing it, selling it and even shipping the product.
In our daily work life, most designers are confined to a certain set of activities such as concept development or CAD work. By walking the “path” with your own design, you stand to learn a lot of things that can be beneficial to your career as a designer. For example you start to think of your designs now as a product that has to sell. This means budgeting and return of investments (ROI), marketing plans, consumer behavior studies and even pricing strategies. You will also get a chance to do things like manage shipping and logistics activities, and best of all, inventory management. (Not!) Even refining a product hot of the prototyping machine is a priceless experience.
Eventually you may realize that many designers are really not just designers but are instead, what I like to call, Design Producers. Phillip Starck and Karim Rashid are good examples, but Design Managers in organizations also fulfill this role by their ability to work with different departments or competences. In other words, Design Producers are experts in gathering all the required pieces of the puzzle together and then piecing them together to create unique and meaningful solutions.
Industrial Design has evolved in today’s business and consumer climate. It is not just about creating beautiful objects; it requires many diverse elements for it to be a success. The creative part of design, something we all know so well, often becomes a small piece of the entire picture. As a result many Design Producers do very little hands on Design, even if they are very good at it. But at the end of the day, everything is still Design, no?

6 Comments
  • designsymbiosis

    July 15, 2009 at 8:56 am Reply

    Some are design labour. Some are managers of that labour. Ask yourself, which one are you?

  • Bernard Lim

    July 15, 2009 at 11:42 am Reply

    I seem to heading towards this direction…Design Producer. And i dont mind it a single bit! ūüôā

  • Anil Ram

    July 15, 2009 at 10:42 pm Reply

    I Think there is two ways you could deal with this,
    first:You could stay hardcore and do design art and come to do something that is very conceptual like some of Marc Newson chairs but they are one of pieces not design for mass market.
    Second: You would create something that is very functional, and for the mass mark where you hand to take into consideration of all thing materials cost, machining, etc. but the deign part come in the way it dose its job.for instances the a kitchen cupboard normally one out now I have seen sliding cupboard doors.
    sometime only you will take the care that your product need to come out right

  • TPK_UK (London)

    July 17, 2009 at 5:07 am Reply

    Nice piece.
    This is exactly why we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about any weaknesses we may have as designers (or indeed as individuals) – it takes time to acquire experience, it takes time to learn, even for the penny to drop. One has to actively seek out challenges, be prepared to cock it up a bit and this all takes time…
    As an ID ‘Jack of all trades’ with 15+ years experience, it’s useful to be reminded that no man is an island and that interdependency on others is something that needs to be recognised. Developing the right skills to deal with people is therefore key to a healthy and successful career. Learning to leave your ego at home is another …
    TPK_UK (London)

  • Johnny Boots

    July 22, 2009 at 10:16 pm Reply

    As a designer whos been doing this for the last year or 2 this article really speaks to me. I came up with a fantastic (to me at least) design that functional and beautiful at the same time. It utilized groundbreaking technology and I’ve been working on it in my off time.
    Some of the comments are just as god as the article (thanks guys) realizing you cant do everything is paramount. Seeing something you know and love like no one else is very gratifying. The learning experience is amazing.

  • […] path on their own by bringing some of their own creations to the market. My article “Sometimes Designers need to Walk the Path on Their Own” encouraged design entrepreneurship simply because of the learning experience designers can […]

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