I am an architecture student in the university of greece. However, i have a huge love about designing things (apart from just buildings) and making inventions. Something really important that i dont know and therefore im asking your advise, is which are the steps you need to follow to make a profit out of your inventions , should you choose to sell them. For instance, say that i have made a furniture design. What exactly do i have to do in order to sell it in some furniture company ?
I’ll be honest, unless your idea can be patented successfully and be able to enforce that patent its not easy. Everybody and there brother has an idea for another furniture piece. Doubt youll be able to find any company interested in your designs. Not that they might not have merit, but what is the incentive of a furniture company to pay an outside person to do what their internal team can already do? Add to that that they know the manufacturing, supply chain and general operations better.
Better option would be to design the furniture yourself then hire a local maker to build it. Unless you have your own space. Bear in mind there are hundreds if not thousands of people trying to do the exact same thing. Dont mean to sound harsh, but just the reality
You don’t need a patent to profit from your idea.
Take this advice with a grain of salt, because I’m not in the furniture industry. However, from what I’ve seen and heard, to be successful in furniture you need:
Excellent sales ability. You have to go to the furniture companies, find the person who has the power to make your piece happen and convince them that they need to do it now.
A lot of ideas. Look up Karim Rashid sketches on google. The guy has millions of ideas which have turned into a few hundred products. This also feeds into point #1, because you have to target your design to the client. You need to pitch different designs to Roche Bobois than Knoll.
Yes if you can make this work, please share with the rest. I personally think times have changed quite a bit from Karims days. For starters he got his start with Sottsass which im sure opened the doors more than his ideas. Perhaps im living in a bubble in the bay area, but this area is flooded with furniture makers. My opinions come only from that perspective, but knocking on doors isnt what it use to be.
Perhaps furniture design contest would be a good options for exposure. Im curious how Benjamin Hubert got his start? Aside from working in really high profile consultancies.
I was just listening to an interview with Bob Lefsetz this morning where he said his advice to any musician was to quit now. I think the same is true to furniture design like Karim did it. It’s a long shot. Literally 1 in a million designers will have his impact. It doesn’t mean you can’t, but it’s difficult and requires skill and luck.
Haha thats kinda awesome. Gotta love the bluntness. Agreed it is possible. But a better more likely route would be patented ideas. There have been quite a few medical professionals who due to their in field experience were able to patent their ideas and therefor have a much better value add to a company. I know the original poster was more interested in furniture so maybe not applicable. I definitely see a lot of parallels between furniture and music. Do it because you love it first not to become rich. Not that its impossible, just the odds of hitting it big with furniture or music are quite rare.
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[quote=“Mr-914”]You don’t need a patent to profit from your idea.
I agree with this totally, patents can help in some situations but the reality is that more often then naught mechanical patents can be worked around (vacuum industry is a good example). And plus if you have a patent then when someone infringes on it you must also have the money to defend it (what dodge did when a Asian car manufacturer created a “dodge grill”.
Patents: Their value is dependent on your business model. A design patent in furniture is going to have little value because it’s easy to work around. A single mechanical utility patent is more valuable. Multiple patents covering different elements (electronics, software, mechanics) is very valuable, especially in a product where there is no real substitute. Having said that, developing that kind of a product requires a development team, attorneys and deep pockets.
However, as I hit 15 years in design this year, I now know that you can go out and raise that capital. Mind you, you will have to put down 10~20% of your own cash, but a sound business plan and good selling can raise you a good chunk of change.
Reminds me of the story of the Supersoaker. No patents but a lot of persistence and good business skills. Was able to sell but but spent next 20 plus years trying to collect royalties. Patents are a road bump essentially, enough can be worked around but run the risk of litigation. Patents can be worked around but so can furniture designs. In terms of capital, I have watched quite a few furniture kickstarters fail or just creep over their target. There is no reason for most furniture companies to buy an idea, when they can develop in house or just copy the idea without fear of any legal ramifications. Ideas are cheap. Am i wrong on this?
Is there a furniture version of Betabrand? It seems others have different perspectives, has anyone here attempted this? Got me very curious now.
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Just to clarify, I think having the reach of Karim is 1 in a million. It is possible to make a living at furniture. However, like all creative endeavors, it is not a smooth road. Steel yourself mentally for a lot of rejection and disappointments. Enjoy the small successes.
There is also the possibility to make one offs, like e.g. Ron Arad did in the early days. In his case he was lucky to get a lot of attention with his Rover chair, otherwise he might have continued with one-offs. Obviously he had the talent to lift another rabbit out of the hat, but in the beginning it was all much less spectacular.
And with all these creative professions, one has to be able to convince others!