Design Oriented Vs Market Oriented Companies

Hello, I’m doing this assignment where I have to talk about the different approaches, when designing an industrial design product, a company oriented on design rather than the market may take.

Let me make clear that I’m referring to industrial design companies and not some random business.

From what I have understood so far a company oriented on design will put more emphasis on research and innovation, maybe even experiment with and create new materials and generally try to create new design standards. On the other hand a more market oriented company will try to understand what’s popular and what sells best on the market and try to satiate existing needs.

I’m having trouble as I’m coming across those terms only referred to marketing rather than industrial design. So could you point me to some links or texts where this matter is explained further (examples with actual companies would be great)? Thank you.

Actually, you are not clear. By “industrial design companies” do you mean industrial design consultancies, companies that heavily use industrial designers to design the products they sell or a just company that sells products instead of “some random business” that sells a service like a dry cleaner? Can a service that is heavily steeped in design but not industrial design, like Starbucks, be an “industrial design company”?

Again, I am not clear on the differentiation. It seems you are talking about companies that lead a category versus a company that follows in a category. Because leaders will certain try to understand what is popular and what sells. If they don’t sell, they will be out of business in no time. Leaders can also just take a new look at an existing material and don’t need to create new materials. And followers will certainly use industrial designers and will do research.

Thank you for your reply.

I’m talking about this kind of company/business: http://www.serralunga.com/company.htm?lang=en
In this case I would say it’s an (industrial) design oriented company.

Doesn’t have to be a multinational company, even a small local business that has the machinery to produce the objects itself will do (but definitely not just an id studio or id consultancy).


Isn’t this a more marketing (as opposed to industrial design) oriented definition?

I admit I am a bit confused but I’m trying to include only the design part of industrial design and leave out the marketing one (if that’s even possible). Trying to see if an id company is design oriented or market oriented, again, based solely on the “designing” phase of the product life-cycle leaving out what comes before or after.

So trying to see if when they are designing and manufacturing the object do they have in mind design (materials, aesthetics, etc) or just market thus trying only to appeal to a vast crowd that is not educated on what’s “beautiful”?

It’s not entirely clear to me what you’re asking because it’s not very specific, but I would say that design activities are most of the time done within the framework of a business plan.

To make it more specific and looking at Serralunga, it’s clear that they’re aiming for design-conscious people with a high income since they’re aiming to sell very beautiful items designed by the famous names of the design world. As such, there will probably be a few requirements for the product from a marketing perspective, but within that the designer will probably have quite a bit of freedom to explore. The company is mostly selling high design / aesthetics that speak to the soul of the customers, so it will be a more subjective process (although often the superstar designers just base their design on a few simple sketches). Other companies will focus more on selling certain functionalities within very specific marketing requirements so that the design process will be more restricted. In my knowledge there are only a few organizations that focus on doing design just for the sake of design - like government funded research groups, or maybe certain departments in big companies, but then often still within an overall economic plan.

No idea if that helps, try asking something more specific!

Thanks for the example, it does clarify your questions. Personally, I wouldn’t call it an “industrial design” company, but I think that is a good question, how does one classify the company you are showing?

I wouldn’t put it in the same category as Apple or Samsung, the volumes are much much lower. But it isn’t a one-off-etsy type of thing either, there is definitely mass-production.

But I would have to disagree with your hypothesis, “a company oriented on design will put more emphasis on research and innovation”. As a matter of fact, I see the “vision” of the designer driving the design, not anything the designer learned from the customer. In the case you cited, the designer decides what is “good design”, makes it, and let the customer come to them. This seems to me an industrialized version of etsy and has a lot of risk.

Whereas a company like Apple will have user research drive the design. While no guarantee of success, it is better than throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks.

I see companies like that more as boutique manufactures with niche clientele. They use design to get noticed and retain a small but loyal fan group… design is their market orientation. I think this works at a small size and only for certain product types, but gets tricky at larger sizes or with products that require a more user centered approach to be functional.