Smoke and Mirrors

So just wondering what other peoples feelings are on this subject, especially with so many new “design firms” popping up. I have seen many examples of what I would consider smoke and mirrors, and just wondering if other people view it the same

A few examples:
Padding the companies portfolio: I see many designer starting their own gig and setting themselves up as a design firm - good for them. But when I look at their new company website it is more of their personal portfolio and not work that they have completed under the “new company” I think this is wrong, as it the projects were completed while working for another company and with a completely different group of individuals and resources that are no longer available. Along with that I see people listing “clients” once again these clients are companies that the persons have worked for and not companies that hired the design firm.

I have seen some sites that state “the work shown was completed wile employed by…” which I think is a valid way to do it.

Design firms that show case projects: I have come across several instances were firms are singing the praises of a particular project and show ceasing it on their website and submitting it for awards only to meet the client later and find out that the project in their eyes was not so much of a success, and that refuse to ever work with a particular firm again.

Tweaking the personal portfolio / company : When preparing the portfolio, i see many individuals who go back and rework sketches, add concepts, refined renderings and represent this work as what was completed for the project. I know many designers who also tell students to do this in order to clean up their projects but forget to tell them to properly represent “what they did in the allotted project time line”

The above is just the tip but I am wondering if people have other examples of what they have seen that may be considered operating in the “grey” or down right wrong. Or opinions on what is or is not acceptable.

Chevis W

This is not an new issue, but lets look at it from another angle. A firm completes a successful program and puts the piece in their portfolio. Years later the creative lead on the program leaves and most of the team has already moved on. Does the firm still have the right to put the project in its portfolio? How about the creative lead? How about the junior designer who’s contribution was significant? Is the original firm who completed the project representing work done with a “completely different group of individuals and resources that are no longer available”? Since no organization remains intact, do these projects just go into limbo with no one taking credit? Of course not.

Another situation. Two firms work on the same project. One focuses on research and strategy, the other on the product design. Without the research, the insights to create the product might not have been there. Without the product design, there would be nothing at all. Who gets to put it in their portfolio? In the case of Swifer the answer would be both.

Most firms are started by people that worked at other places prior. Logical. And most large firms tend to birth dozens of others, Astro, New Deal, Fuse, and many others were started by former frogs. I’m sure IDEO and Continuum have similar lineages… Your not in much of a position to impact the industry otherwise.

The important thing is to focus on what your contribution was and not to inflate or misrepresent that. If I’m reading you right, I think that is your chief concern. Is that correct?

When you say misrepresent this is where I find many designers have a difference of opinion. I have talked with many and when questioned they say “I didn’t say I did the work while at my own firm , the client just assumed that, so I did nothing wrong” By saying nothing and knowing that some one is mis-interpreting something has the person stepped outside of the grey area?

In my experience, this stuff tends to shake out. If the person/company misrepresents what they’re about, it will show up. Whether it is in an inferior product, or by being voted off the island and having the client never use that person/company again.

There are schisters in every industry. Why would Industrial Design be any different?

I think that would be called a “sin of omission”. In my opinion you should be clear, if not on your site, then verbally. Let someone be mislead is pretty close to actually misleading them. To be self critical I need to be more clear on my own site, but I try to say when I did things at Evo, and always give them props in interviews and lectures… but I’m also not running a my own firm.