Best Cities for Budding Designers

Most saturated ID job market.

  • Chicago
  • San Fransico
  • New York

0 voters

Every fresh out of college Industrial Designer claims they want to be in New York and San Fran.
Too cliche and saturated for my taste.
Does any have any thoughts on growing design job markets with design friendly populations/cost of living, etc…
Comments on unexpectedly saturated job markets is also appreciated.
If you love the city you are in tell us why!
Discuss Discuss Discuss!

Man this question is the new Mac or PC…

I would say all of these spots are great for being an underpaid entry level designer.

This question again?? Isn’t there a standard replay we can plug in…

Here are the next biggest design markets beyond NYC and San Fran:

Expensive Cities:

Less Expensive Cities:

After that… there is design dispersed so pick a random place.

You know, there are other countries in the world too, aside from the US…



Kuchinsky… way to take this beyond the norm.

US citizens are going to have to learn and like to move to other areas of the world for good jobs.

Germany has quite the heritage in various cities…

What else?

I can say from personal experience, that Scandinavia is also a great option.

Fantastic history of design (Vernor Panton, Arne Jacobsen, Stelton, Bang& Olufsen, Lego), and lots of action in consultancies and in-house teams. Both Sweden and Denmark are also great places to live!

As well, I would recommend checking out Amsterdam. There is a huge design community there active in all areas. Product (ie. Philips), Furniture (ie. Droog), and also graphics and art. Most of the interesting stuff i see these days seems to always come from Amsterdam.

If you have the choice (as I did) to live someplace abroad I would fully recommend it. Not only for the good cultural influences, but mainly just because I think the design scene outside the US is actually much better. For sure there is a huge consumer product consultancy job market in the US, but most stuff to me just seems pretty boring and all the same… Not to mention quality of life is much better in Europe than in the US (6 weeks standard vacation time in Denmark anyone?).

You could surely stay in the US, but why would you ever want to?


One last addition to my list- Antwerp, Belgium. Big scene there, esp. fashion. Think Dries van Noten, Hedi Slimane…

im back…

i have to agree with kuchinsky

europe is doing great things for design and getting outside of your comfort zone really helps you grow as a person as well.

i hate to do this, but i must say that my beloved adopted city of Barcelona is really a bad place to be for unknown foreign designers. its a really difficult market here in the firstplace but then…

anyway, i would suggest scandinavia as well, and germany too, specifically hamburg or berlin (not frankfurt, please!). also, there are lots of things going on in Budapest these days and it might be an excellent opportunity to be one of the first.

if you’re sticking strictly to the us, i would go with san fran even though i’ve only been there for vacations. new york and LA will ALWAYS have something going on, but do you really want to live there is the important question.

good luck and let us know what you decide on

i dont know about most graduating students, like myself, but it would be a dream to work abroad. However, is it not very difficult to find a company to hire you and sponser your visa? I know that’s the issue with coming into the US, not sure about US designer moving out though.

Anyone aware of how difficult this is? I recently interned for Electrolux USA, and they like their employees to move to other design offices across the globe, but without being in-company, I always assumed it would be very difficult.

I would think it depends on the industry and type of work and your experience.

In general, all things being equal any company would always prefer to hire locally. Its much easier, less risk, and les expensive for them (no relocation packages, cost of living adjustments, etc.).

If you do have special skills, or work in a specific industry (I’m in footwear design, for example), it would likely be easier as specialized potential employers may be harder to find locally.

I can’t speak for other industries, but I do know in footwear design it is very common to hire from abroad, given the few number of experienced footwear designers and footwear companies spread around the world where they may work.

Many international companies may also see the benefit of hiring internationally to get a wider cultural set to better help position their brand in an international market.

just my $0.02 worth.


another good city to check out where there are a lot of expats- Hong Kong

Columbus really? I never knew!? I need more time/experience and some portfolio builders then I might be moving on to another city eventually, if STL doesn’t pan out. My fiancee’s job is what will be the deciding factor if we stick around the STL area. I love Columbus!

Columbus has a good bit of traditional ID:

Fitch HQ
Design Central
Big Red Rooster
Sonic rim
and others

schools like OSU and Columbus College of Art and Design

the are really leads the way in research processes and has access to companies in cities within a 300 mile radius… Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, etc…

The title of this thread is best cities for budding designers…

A good thing to look at would be the general age of local design directors and how many new firms have sprouted up by folks peeling off of some of the more local historic firms.

If you weed it down in that manner I know Austin is a very youthful community and arguably great for budding designers.

The man loves his town, I respect that.

I never considered working in Texas, but I keep hearing really nice things about Austin


First lesson - Austin is not Texas :slight_smile:) …politically, culturally, and topography

…I used to live in Austin - about 3 years ago. Lived there for 5. I go back every year for sxsw and acl. It is changing… turning into a major, mature city which is good and bad. Has a very unique, different vibe not found anywhere else. I think it will culturally rival the top of the heap cities like NYC, SF, etc in as soon as 5 years. At least it is becomming more urban rather than sprawl which it certainly has.

I have a good job in cold weather Chicago… looking for the right opportunity to go back. I do like it - and wish I could call it my town.