The short and sweet version of my story is that I have a BFA in Object Design from Chicago, but I moved back home to near LA, and have struggling to jump back on the design scene ever since (2 years, working on my portfolio, etc).
It’s been a bit frustrating, unlike the scenes in Chicago or even San Fran, but I’m giving Dwell on Design, “America’s Largest Design Event”, a chance this weekend, even volunteering to help out with some lectures/ exhibitions and hope to see some behind the scenes stuff.
I realize this event is geared towards Interior Architecture/ Architecture professionals, but there seems to be a lot of furniture/ housewares booths (my forte), which I hope to get to meet and network.
My questions to my designer public are these:
Have any other Industrial Designers gone to this specific event? If so, what was your experience (and am I getting my hopes up)?
If this indeed “America’s Largest Design Event”, why hasn’t sites like Core77 been advertising it, compared to NeoCon or ICFF? Why do I feel like this is some big secret and I stumbled on it by accident?
Also, I would appreciate any tips and etiquette about networking at shows like this, I admit I am a newbie to it!
The first line is any booth at a trade show is sales. They will look at your badge and size you up as someone who can’t give them a sales commission.
Don’t let this deter you. Nothing personal, baby needs a new pair of shoes and the sales force is trying to make a sale. So they want to dismiss you.
Be courteous of their time, but start talking about what you like about their products (no bullshit though, that is transparent) and ask if any of the design or R&D people are at the show. If they are there, try to get them pointed out or ask if it is possible to speak with them. If the design/R&D crew is busy, leave a card behind and say you will come back in an hour and then come back in an hour. If no design/R&D is at the show, still, leave behind your card and ask them to take it back to the office.
Be prepared for rejection, again, they are looking for a fat lead at a show. Good luck.
Iab is completely right. And even if there are any design or R&D people there assume they are going to be crazy busy. At CES Designers always stop by the booth and want to chat, and I want to chat with them, reality is I’m scheduled with retailers and media giving tones of demos and showing new product. When I’m not doing that I’m trying to keep up on emails with what is going on at the office, trying to make sure the demos keep working, or god forbid resting for 15 seconds.
Have a great one page postcard or small brochure of your work. Ask to give this to someone in R&D or design. If you can hand it to them in person and shake their hand all the better, but don’t bend their ear unless they invite the conversation. Assume they have something else to do, that is why the company is paying them to be there.
see if there is some kind of designer event. At CES every year there is always a designer happy hour. That is the time to network, shake hands, bend ears.