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making a profit out of your ideas

Postby Marios_Psalidopoulos » February 20th, 2017, 5:35 pm


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Hallo guys
I am an architecture student in the university of greece. However, i have a huge love about designing things (apart from just buildings) and making inventions. Something really important that i dont know and therefore im asking your advise, is which are the steps you need to follow to make a profit out of your inventions , should you choose to sell them. For instance, say that i have made a furniture design. What exactly do i have to do in order to sell it in some furniture company ?
Thank you.

Re: making a profit out of your ideas

Postby studiomkllc » February 20th, 2017, 10:47 pm


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I'll be honest, unless your idea can be patented successfully and be able to enforce that patent its not easy. Everybody and there brother has an idea for another furniture piece. Doubt youll be able to find any company interested in your designs. Not that they might not have merit, but what is the incentive of a furniture company to pay an outside person to do what their internal team can already do? Add to that that they know the manufacturing, supply chain and general operations better.

Better option would be to design the furniture yourself then hire a local maker to build it. Unless you have your own space. Bear in mind there are hundreds if not thousands of people trying to do the exact same thing. Dont mean to sound harsh, but just the reality

Re: making a profit out of your ideas

Postby Mr-914 » February 21st, 2017, 7:45 am

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You don't need a patent to profit from your idea.

Take this advice with a grain of salt, because I'm not in the furniture industry. However, from what I've seen and heard, to be successful in furniture you need:

1. Excellent sales ability. You have to go to the furniture companies, find the person who has the power to make your piece happen and convince them that they need to do it now.

2. A lot of ideas. Look up Karim Rashid sketches on google. The guy has millions of ideas which have turned into a few hundred products. This also feeds into point #1, because you have to target your design to the client. You need to pitch different designs to Roche Bobois than Knoll.

Good luck!
Ray Jepson

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Re: making a profit out of your ideas

Postby studiomkllc » February 21st, 2017, 11:17 am


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Yes if you can make this work, please share with the rest. I personally think times have changed quite a bit from Karims days. For starters he got his start with Sottsass which im sure opened the doors more than his ideas. Perhaps im living in a bubble in the bay area, but this area is flooded with furniture makers. My opinions come only from that perspective, but knocking on doors isnt what it use to be.

Perhaps furniture design contest would be a good options for exposure. Im curious how Benjamin Hubert got his start? Aside from working in really high profile consultancies.

Re: making a profit out of your ideas

Postby Mr-914 » February 21st, 2017, 12:14 pm

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I was just listening to an interview with Bob Lefsetz this morning where he said his advice to any musician was to quit now. I think the same is true to furniture design like Karim did it. It's a long shot. Literally 1 in a million designers will have his impact. It doesn't mean you can't, but it's difficult and requires skill and luck.
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Re: making a profit out of your ideas

Postby studiomkllc » February 21st, 2017, 1:49 pm


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Haha thats kinda awesome. Gotta love the bluntness. Agreed it is possible. But a better more likely route would be patented ideas. There have been quite a few medical professionals who due to their in field experience were able to patent their ideas and therefor have a much better value add to a company. I know the original poster was more interested in furniture so maybe not applicable. I definitely see a lot of parallels between furniture and music. Do it because you love it first not to become rich. Not that its impossible, just the odds of hitting it big with furniture or music are quite rare.

Re: making a profit out of your ideas

Postby KenoLeon » February 21st, 2017, 2:50 pm

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I had a roommate a few years ago whose father had a furniture company , I offered my services because that sounded like something I would love doing ( their style was sort of easy to evolve and they seemed to have no design process in place ) , but he never arranged a meeting...

I bumped into him not long ago and he seemed miserable, so I asked him what was wrong, his father had retired and now he was in charge of designing furniture ,which he hated and had no idea how to do since he loves writing and philosophy...

At first I saw design as a passion/hobby/interest, the goal was to make something cool and then try to sell it, but I've learned that the opposite is the norm if you want design to be your main business, figure out if you can sell it, and then build it.
Last edited by KenoLeon on February 21st, 2017, 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: making a profit out of your ideas

Postby cwatkinson » February 21st, 2017, 2:56 pm

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[quote="Mr-914"]You don't need a patent to profit from your idea.

I agree with this totally, patents can help in some situations but the reality is that more often then naught mechanical patents can be worked around (vacuum industry is a good example). And plus if you have a patent then when someone infringes on it you must also have the money to defend it (what dodge did when a Asian car manufacturer created a "dodge grill".

Re: making a profit out of your ideas

Postby Mr-914 » February 21st, 2017, 3:23 pm

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Patents: Their value is dependent on your business model. A design patent in furniture is going to have little value because it's easy to work around. A single mechanical utility patent is more valuable. Multiple patents covering different elements (electronics, software, mechanics) is very valuable, especially in a product where there is no real substitute. Having said that, developing that kind of a product requires a development team, attorneys and deep pockets.

However, as I hit 15 years in design this year, I now know that you can go out and raise that capital. Mind you, you will have to put down 10~20% of your own cash, but a sound business plan and good selling can raise you a good chunk of change.
Ray Jepson

"The key to success in this business is to find a boss who doesn't care." - Mike Rowe

Re: making a profit out of your ideas

Postby studiomkllc » February 21st, 2017, 3:53 pm


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Reminds me of the story of the Supersoaker. No patents but a lot of persistence and good business skills. Was able to sell but but spent next 20 plus years trying to collect royalties. Patents are a road bump essentially, enough can be worked around but run the risk of litigation. Patents can be worked around but so can furniture designs. In terms of capital, I have watched quite a few furniture kickstarters fail or just creep over their target. There is no reason for most furniture companies to buy an idea, when they can develop in house or just copy the idea without fear of any legal ramifications. Ideas are cheap. Am i wrong on this?

Is there a furniture version of Betabrand? It seems others have different perspectives, has anyone here attempted this? Got me very curious now.

Re: making a profit out of your ideas

Postby KenoLeon » February 21st, 2017, 9:28 pm

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studiomkllc wrote:Ideas are cheap. Am i wrong on this?


I guess it depends on what you consider an idea:

- I have an idea for an ergonomic modular chair. (as is that is a very empty statement ), yet I'd like to think that not everyone can come up with novel ideas, or good questions, so if after studying the market and chair construction, ergonomics and some lucky insight you come up with I have an idea for a modular chair whose mechanism is cheaper and more efficient than the Aeron, and with good specific ergonomics that fills a specific hole in the market, then I believe ideas becomes less cheap, and maybe can be upgraded to valuable potential solutions.

- How about when you add sketches and prototypes, the idea then becomes a process of finding the right solution, that surely has to have value, but they seem cheap because we can't easily protect them and so anybody can use them at that point.

- How about when you iterate the whole process, it costs both money and time, so I think it shouldn't be worthless.

- The payout to all this activity unfortunately comes at the end ( kickstarter and crowdfunding have moved it closer up to the original idea), so unfortunately the final execution usually get's the majority of the credit ( along with marketing which of course is necessary).

So I think it is not entirely wrong, but not entirely right either and depends on your definition, a difference in between intrinsic and apparent/monetary value could also be helpful,not sure we are on the same page.
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Re: making a profit out of your ideas

Postby Mr-914 » February 22nd, 2017, 7:41 am

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studiomkllc wrote:Haha thats kinda awesome. Gotta love the bluntness.


Just to clarify, I think having the reach of Karim is 1 in a million. It is possible to make a living at furniture. However, like all creative endeavors, it is not a smooth road. Steel yourself mentally for a lot of rejection and disappointments. Enjoy the small successes.
Ray Jepson

"The key to success in this business is to find a boss who doesn't care." - Mike Rowe

Re: making a profit out of your ideas

Postby Sydneysider » April 5th, 2017, 9:02 am


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There is also the possibility to make one offs, like e.g. Ron Arad did in the early days. In his case he was lucky to get a lot of attention with his Rover chair, otherwise he might have continued with one-offs. Obviously he had the talent to lift another rabbit out of the hat, but in the beginning it was all much less spectacular.
And with all these creative professions, one has to be able to convince others!


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