an Architecture/Interior firm exploring Product Development

I have been contacted by an architecture/interior firm that is interested in expanding their design efforts into product development. They have successfully launched a small iPad accessory with the assistance of an outside engineer.

My dilemma: I am only a junior level designer, but have been working in a field that works mainly with aluminum extrusion. Not since my internship 2.5 years ago, have I worked with complex injection molded parts. I did mostly design research. I didn’t have much exposure to plastics selection process.

They have thrown a couple of freelance projects my way. I am assuming those are to see what I can do for them.

My question, What deliverables would you recommend I should present on a product revamp? I was given virtually no constraints, I am only limited to an hourly rate and a month.

So far I figure I would do some preliminary market research, materials research, and do a artifact/user model to identify where a user could potentially find issues with the product.

Any advice is greatly appreciated, and feel free to ask any questions.

Thank you so much!

4-week project

  1. Kickoff meeting - Confirm goals/objectives and deliverables, obtain client knowledge about the product/project

  2. Primary and secondary research - Additional knowledge that the client did not provide

  3. Concept development - Generate and illustrate 8-12 concepts

  4. Concept review meeting - Narrow to 2-3 concepts

  5. Concept refinement - Refine and illustrate 2-3 concepts

#5 is optional. For good clients I would do it, for all others I would not. It is a judgement call.

Thank you very much!

I am pretty sure I know which company you are talking about and what product they launched ( I am from the same area as you I believe). I wish you the best of luck and hope you can develop their product line. What they currently have is definitely in need of some design refinement.

Carl, sounds like an interesting opportunity. Some questions I would have for them:

  1. who do you report to?
  2. what type of commitment are we looking at in terms of building the ID practice? Will there be more hires? When? How involved will you be?
  3. What are the Profit and Loss expectations on the ID practice over the next 5 years? Is there a 5 year plan for the ID practice or is this an experiment where you might be let go in a year?
  4. How will business development and sales work for ID? Will there be a dedicated resource? Does the sales group know how to sell ID? Will you be allowed to educate them on the practice? Will you be expected to go on sales calls?
  5. will there be a press release announcing this new ID service and your addition to the team?

It is true, I am very worried about the risk of joining such a nascent interest. I went ahead and asked, and they have a solid line of products to design, along with furniture. Soothes my anxiety about the leap of faith.

I figure, I will take the risk while putting aside some money, just in case.

I am presenting my work this coming Saturday, where they plan on setting more plans with me in stone.

Sounds promising. Good luck Carl!


Just a follow up,

I delivered my presentation on the future development of their product, and they seemed happy with the potential of having a well designed product offering. I asked about the timeline, and the Principal of the firm was able to offer a very lengthy and well thought out 5 year plan.

They asked what my salary requirements would be, and asked me if I would be willing to travel to china. Promising indeed.

Sadly no definitive date, but they are interested in taking me on soon enough.

Sounds great man! Good to see that the principal already had developed a good plan for 5 years.
It’s important that he’s already planning for the medium/long run, looks promising.

Best of luck!

Nice. Sounds like the conversation moved the ball down the field even though it may not have been the touchdown you were looking for! (Superbowl season, sorry for the sports metaphor)

Those metaphors are very necessary around this time, Yo. It should go without saying, I will definitely be on the Core77 boards for coaching on this design gameplan.