Design Consultancy or Large Corporation, you decide!

Where would you want to work (and why)

  • Corporation
  • Consultancy

0 voters

I imagine that there will be a bias towards having your own consultancy, but what are the pros and cons of being your own master or having some benefits?

If this has already been discussed at length, sorry! Just send me the link then…

I would add one more category, which is large design consultancies such as Ideo and DC. I think they provide an environment in between regular sized firms and in house design. They all have their advantages, so it’s a hard choice.

Here’s my opinion and break down:

Large corp

You get to be a part of the entire process, from sketching to your design going onto the shelves.
Able to work side by side with various departments, like marketing and engineering.
You have more projects making to the shelves than dying.
Higher pay
More stable employment
Possible better benefits

Projects may take many years to complete, so it’s bad for junior designers who need stuffs in their portfolio to show.
Process is stretched, so it’s rather low energy environment.
Harder to push for progress because you got to convince the big shots who know nothing about design
Work becomes too formulated

Small firms:

Lots and lots of projects of wide range.
High energy, busy, but probably more fun.
Learn a lot simply because you are exposed to more things other than just design.
Hands on more things.
More showable work in portfolio, probably more opportunity to participate in various competitions.
Meet all kinds of clients.

Most projects are phase one stuff, and less likely to make it to production.
Maybe less pay due to competitive environment?
Less resources to make things happen.
Unstable work source
Probably not able to control the design too much as in the case of an in-house design department.

Large firms:

Excellent resources to push for improvements
Excellent resource to provide a whole package of services
Talent pool to learn from
Wide range of projects, and mostly production stuffs
Deal with various clients
Since the firm usually has good reputation, companies come to them for a reason, therefore usually have more room to explore and improve what the client wants.
High profile projects.
More stable job, benefits and such.

Corp politics may still kick in at times.
Bigger group means decisions may be harder to make. More considerations.
Energy level may be dampened by the size of the group, simple because the density of interaction between individual designers is lower.

So large firms seem much more attractive, but it really depends on the individual’s preference. Whether you fit in the group is the most important thing after all and this is independent of the size of the group. I myself have no idea yet.

…corporate gigs give you the opportunity to use every design muscle and develope a few you didn’t know you had…from time to time you get to hire a consultancy which is way better than working for one.

Agreed with above - it’s more a question of where you are in your career and what is your area of interest.

If you are interning or looking for your first or second position, a consultancy is a great place to hone your edge and work on a variety of projects. On the other hand, if you are dedicated to say, transportation and a job comes up at Nissan… then that is probably what you want to jump into. Consultancies are usually in big cities, right? - which is where you are if you just graduated. Corp is usually in a boring factory town, and there is sometimes just that one opportunity in that area, and then it’s moving time when you are ready to leave.

It’s probably a good idea to try a corporate manufacturer job too if you are looking to starting your own firm eventually. The insight into manufacturing comes very quickly as they need people to go to China all the time, or, work outside on the floor here in the states (or wherever you are). You learn alot, fast.

But yes, corporate can get sterile. You have the same team and the same customer (that guy in marketing), over and over.


Another vote for corporate life. I’ve been on both sides of the fence, and while true that both scenarios have their pros/cons, I think that the pros of corporate far outweigh the pros of consultancy. Regarding corporate life, alot can depend on the company. If you work for a company that really only has one small product line, I could see that getting old real fast. I think the trick is to find a company that A) values, and understands design, and the role it plays within the business and B) has a wide range of products, and can give the designers opportunities to stay fresh and engaged.

Very interesting. Back in school, all my professors said that they would want to be in a consultancy. Apparently, corporate firms drained the life out of them. As one of them said, you can only design so many washing machines and then you are done. I would have thought that corporate gigs would be too monotonous for designers in the long run. I guess not.