Design Brief and project timeframe

I was recently tasked with coming up with a brief template for our 2014/15 ranges of furniture.

As part of my template, I have broken down the work into stages with hours estimated for the project. As it is in house, management want to evaluate this and put a dollar figure on it.

After adding in our hourly rate including overheads etc, I am a bit surprised as to how much it actually costs to design a range of furniture. These are not going to be overly complicated items. No injection moulding, casting or expensive tooling.

I am wondering if my estimates are accurate. How do design managers or consultants usually work this out? Can anyone suggest changes to my times, or am I on the right track? I don’t want to make the price too high as it may be the death of the project, but at the same time, I don’t want to estimate too low and risk going way over budget.

I have the following:

Stage 1 - Research: 10 hours

• Compile images from managers meeting and establish an aesthetic and commonality in function
• Research materials and processes
• Determine price point and market

Stage 2 – Ideation: 40 hours

• Sketches
• Initial 3D renders
• Scale models and 1:1 cardboard models
• Timber frame details
• Upholstery options

Stage 3 – Evaluation: 2 hours

• Present 5 options to management for input
• Review cost in relation to price point
• Choose 2 to develop further

Stage 4 – Detail design of 2 chosen designs: 120 hours

• More detailed 3D models and renders
• Design optimisation in relation to material availability
• Full scale production prototypes.
• Fabric meters estimate
• Labour hours estimate
• Cutting lists

Stage 5 – Market testing – Internal with sales managers: 2 hours

• Decide on final range
• Evaluate price point and objectives

Stage 6 – Production Prototypes: Time TBA

• One of each product – produce in factory
• Final detailing adjustments for manufacture
• Feel and test models
• Determine labour hours of final designs

Stage 7 – Design Documentation: 100 hours

• 3D models
• 2D drawings
• Assembly drawings
• Buy in component details and pricing
• Fabric patterns
• Data for planning if required

Stage 8 – Production: Time TBA

• Tooling and manufacturing liaison
• Provide further clarification to in house manufacturing, suppliers and contractors

Total design development hours: 234 HOURS

Interesting, by “options” do you mean lines of furniture or pieces?

The research seems light on hours, and should probably include an input session from the sales/marketing managers.

The ideation also seems light if you’re including buidling 1:1 models, unless you’re reusing concepts from previous projects.

I noticed that you have full scale production prototypes in Stage 4 and Stage 6, is that because you anticipate change input in Stage 5?

For client work the group I manage only does concept work and detailing and I estimate the design hours based on the size and scope of the project which is also loosely based on sq.ft figures. For the product development work we do we’re only involved in what would be Stages 1, 2, 3, and parts of 7 that you have in your template. Stage 7 is what usually consumes most of our time.

By options I really mean concepts. So for the range I would present 5 distinctly different ideas to be refined after evaluation.

We have already done this, so that’s why it’s a bit light on time. Basically I have input from regional managers in the form of a powerpoint from each region. This has saved a large amount of time in this area.

Fair point. This may be an area where I need to increase time. Thanks.

Yes. At that stage, I anticipate that there will be final refinement. Mostly in the proportions of the items. This is based on previous designs we have done. Legs may need to be thinner, thicker… Seats higher or wider.