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?