Invention Development Retreat

Two objectives:

  1. any ideas for various revenue centers/programs/markets for a back country based invention development retreat facility?.. a Private Product Development/Commercialization Retreat in the backwoods.
  2. any IDers interested in participating?

William, have you gotten anything from posting this in various ways multiple times? You’ve got to let it go. Post something on coroflot if you want.

Thanks for the reference to coroflot - I’ll give it a try.

Yes, I have met several IDers through my postings, some attracted to the backwoods lifestyle but not in a financial position to break away from a 40/hr gig. It’s come close a couple of times. If the stars align and I find the right fit, chemistry, and skillset - so be it. If not, well - I am good where I am. I’ve introduced products and technologies in both food processing and grocery that continue to be industry standards. It would be great to marry up with in-house design skills and advance things in the direction of several program concepts I discussed in previous postings- we’ll see.

It is my understanding that Subaru had 12 failed starts in the U.S. market before their successful U.S. launch. Hey, I can appreciate your thought - I am not stuck on it, really. It is just that it could be a good thing if it fell together right.

I agree with yo, this recurring query has an inappropriate bent. I sincerely doubt it will work: you are setting up a scenario of subservience or indenture, as highlighted by "If the stars align and I find the right fit, chemistry, and skillset ", if not, the indenture is dropped at the bus station with $10?

Your scenario can work if a known body arranges such a scenario, for example the IDSA, PDMA, DMI or an academic faculty, or if you are a known name, one of the few in the world, i.e. Dyson, Lovegrove.

Looking to an alliance with a known entity in the product design arena, as you suggest, is a good idea. Some time ago I spoke to Design Works (Pelly’s firm) about the concept, as well as some academic institutions. Certainly the concept of independent practitioners in allied fields operating collectively and collaborating on individual projects is not new. Having those related skill-sets under one umbrella is potentially beneficial to all participants including the client. Those firm members are then free to service their own client-base as well as servicing clients of other firm members when referred into a project and when that collaboration is mutually beneficial. Perhaps the unusual aspect here is the proximity…the notion of such a firm being located on a backwoods ranch retreat type location. But then there is Skywalker Ranch, or plenty other examples across the country. Though Skywalker Ranch - like you inferred… is the domain of a very established guy (Granted - it is all easier if one rich guy can write all the checks and take all the risk). With broadband internet connectivity the whole world is somewhat location neutral, given that I am certain we will see more people designing personal lifestyles that work well for them which incorporating creative ways of both living and deploying their respective skill-sets. But sure, it is all not without some personal risk

There is a practical side to this thinking as well. For those that enjoy horses, open spaces, the woods, and a rural lifestyle, well…generally a rural life-style doesn’t cost as much so you are not under the same kind of economic pressure to produce that one might experience in the city. Consequently, one might not have to work as much. As well, because one’s client likely reside in metro markets the standard design fees paid there stretch further in a rural economy. Living in a rural economy yet being paid via metro standards gives one a leg up. Again, general statements.

Do you know of any specific contacts within IDSA that might be good folks to toss this concept around with?

I don’t know. The whole thing sounds a little “serial-killer”-ish to me…


Maybe you need to re-label this along the lines of an artist residency for designers, rather than the B & B mode you are taking. It’s actually pretty common for sculptors, glass blowers and smiths to live on the edge of a patron’s farm or sculpture park in a residency for a summer or so. Try that model.

Think conference instead of retreat, a lot of designers are pretending there is some difference between design and the arts, or that the difference matters, and would probably go to a big important conference rather than a retreat.

In MN we have design camp though, it’s a lodge out in the woods, and it’s where you want to be.

It is sounding a little weird, but it probably doesn’t have to.

… the notion of such a firm being located on a backwoods ranch retreat type location.

Out of necessity, my business has been run out of a “commercial rental” for twenty years. So, essentially, you’re looking for a renter? Are you suggesting that property is available to purchase? Or is this a work-for-a-roof-over-your-head venture?

You will forgive my skepticism, but years ago I went through an inverse of your scenario in a “co-op” with a former VP of Sunbeam Corporation who had “retired” to the outback of California (where I live). He had a constant flow of ideas he was pitching for “clients”; lots of talk, lots of requests for development time and prototypes, but little in the way of “production” on his part.

You may be well situated in the back woods, with little reason to leave, but industrial design firms require physical communication with clients. If getting to clients requires one or two days of preparation and travel it’s a hardship.

GPS coordinates?

Thanks for your thoughts. Regarding location, I am near Sandpoint, Idaho. Like a lot of attractive backwoods places - bailing on the big city for the small town lifestyle of places like Sandpoint is increasingly plausible with high speed internet and skipe.

I understand the compromise with face to face client contact, yeah, its an issue. I face the same issues with my work. Among other products, I’ve had the longest selling carpet cleaning formulation on QVC and for 12 years all my contacts with my joint-venture partner/customer have been by phone and email - 12 years and I’ve never seen the guy (yet we work together closely) . On the other hand, at times even when you are in the same town as your client you still defer to emailing illustrations or solid model files rather than fight the traffic. Choices?

Regarding your reference to the Sunbean guy…yeah, one does not have to look very far to find that kind of noise. Far reaching and inflated promise is no stranger to your industry and mine. Some of that is inherit in the nature of this work, as the work product can often carry real promise. Clearly, many of today’s stable enterprises began with that same uncertainty. The key is to fully evaluating and qualifying an opportunity and design the requisite deal structure to play favorably to your interest- and hopefully the interest of all the parties. Of course, more complex to engineer then a simple employment relationship, but then potentially more rewarding and fulfilling. Choices?

Carton, you mentioned “design camp” - can you tell me a little more about that?