Target designers

Has anyone on here worked for or are currently employeed by Target? I was wondering what kind of designs they are looking for in a portfolio?

Are you talking Fashion or Industrial design? They have both in-house…

On the ID side you need to be very trend oriented, capable of researching what’s happening with today’s buying public, their home environments, etc. I worked as an intern there 4 years ago, and some things may have changed, but at the time they worked closely with trend managers to create a lot of the store branded items. The dynamic has probably changed a bit though, as they had 7 designers then, and last I heard the number had grown to somewhere near 70. Amazing.

I worked on a wide variety of things from electronics, to kids furniture, to baby supplies, the Starck stuff, back to college items, etc. I don’t know if the designers hop from category to category like they used to, but at that time everyone was really well rounded and able to change mindsets fairly quickly. It was important that their new hires were trend and fashion conscious as they re-set their product lines yearly, and the styles needed to change with the times…

I was looking at info on home goods like furniture, lamps, etc.

Interviewed with them last year - NATE is right, they are very trend focused.

Didn’t end up getting the job because they moved their own people around. It was actually kind of ridiculous - they interviewed something like 7 or people for the position and ended up moving their own internal person from another dept. Quite a waste of money flying all those ppl to Minneapolis and putting them in a hotel for the night only to not hire anyone new if you ask me…

I personally didn’t like their policy of giving all applicants unpaid “projects” to have completed before the interview. Kind of makes them look like hypocrites - on one side they say design/innovation is what drives their success and on the other they obviously think nothing of making applicants do that, essentially devaluing the profession and not compensating you for your time.

I haven’t worked there, but as a vendor I’m the recipient of the output of their trend/design group. I can comment on that:

  • No 3-D design. It looks like Illustrator or Photoshop stuff. In most cases it’s pretty crude stuff. The scale isn’t accurate, which creates some surprises. Sometime we translate their 2-D designs into Solidworks to makes sure we can actually make them.

  • As the other folks say, most of their work is trend oriented. They do a lot of competitive shopping (IKEA, Pottery Barn, etc.) then translate the designs into a lower priced version (also the vendor’s job).

  • They do a lot of work with color and pattern/texture. That’s Target’s secret sauce. Delivering a complete program with integrated colors and patterns.

  • Overall the stuff I’ve seen isn’t terribly original. It’s mostily derivations of an existing item already on the market (but what isn’t, right?).

  • They tend to churn-and-burn people. It’s a very young group and the cream floats to the top quickly. Some people also work there to get Target on their resume so they can leverage it to get their next job. Nothing wrong with that…

I hope this helps.

guest12345 is right on the money. I worked there and we did a lot of trend shopping. A lot of picking print and pattern. The work is so friggin’ boring. No innovation what so ever. A bunch of stiffs who think they no how to design because of their cool hip corporate image. Ripping of designs and putting a new face on it. Then shoving it in the face of their target audiance, a 28 year old mother of three who makes $68,000 a year just so she can then throw it in a garbage dump and buy the next trendy piece of junk. When is target going to produce something that isn’t totally crap?

It is not impossible to make a quality product that is produced cheaply.

Try being original and come up with your own designs.

The best designers there are surface designers.

They get a lot of freedom to do any sort of print and pattern they want as long as it matches the trend board. They don’t just rip of someone elses work.

interesting to hear they’re not doing much 3D. back when Patrick D was helping to start them up ('98-'99), he was very much interested in using 3D tools (Alias and Pro/E at the time). wonder what happened.

To Target Ex:

As the current CEO of Target Corporation I would have to agree with you about our lack of originality and innovation. Our proven success is in the trend buisness. Giving people what they want when they want it. We are currently in a transition period and are on the brink of something huge. So huge you won’t be able to put your arms around it. When this POA (Plan Of Attack) is unmasked the design world is going to be shocked. They are going to be like, "Holy gravy, that is a great idea. "

Success is not only measured in dollars and cents but also pounds of fun. And as the leader of this red squad I assure you that we are tipping the design scale with at least 37 pounds of fun.

Everybody knows the success of Targets One Spot.
Who knew that putting a dollar store inside of a Target would be so successful. Our next great trendy cool hip million dollar idea is:

The One Place.
Unlike the One Spot, everything is on sale for a penny. From rubberbands to paperclips. Tiny bouncy balls to really small frisbees. So get your copper out and head on down to your neighborhood Target.

P.S. the Target Dog died so we got a new Mascot.

No 3D when I was there either. Forgot to mention that. It sounds like the workflow is pretty much the same as it was 4 years ago. On the super fast projects we would sketch like crazy, and send those sketches with rough dimensions to various vendors for sampling. They had a contract engineer on board to do some 3D Pro-E work on the Starck stuff, but everything else was 2D orthos via pen, photoshop, or illustrator. I got the sense that because of the fast-paced nature and high product turnover rate that we didn’t really have time to massage details in 3D.
The designers, trend managers, and buyers would critique the samples and give their input and the vendors would take care of most everything regarding implementation.

I never worked for Target as a designer but I did work for them as a sales associate for a while when I was in college. The corporate culture is pretty boring like others have stated but they think they are the shit when it comes to just about everything, especially over walmart which is almost always next door or across the street.

While most of their normal products are pretty much the same as everone else they do get some better than average things in the furniture, electronics, and housewares. I was working for them when they started carrying things from Stark, Todd Oldham, and Graves. Thats a story in itself,

The Stark collection was a miserable failure. Everything from the cheap plastic furniture to the baby gear that you didn’t feel safe carrying a doll in. People always walked by and commented on how cool it looked and how slick the packaging was, but as soon as they picked them up they could instantly feel that it was a cheap Chinese rush order. I know this because a few weeks after it came out I was told by a supervisor to move everything from the stark collection to a lonely clearance endcap - the final nail in the coffin.

Todd Oldham produced a collection for college back-to-school that tried so hard to be retro that it actually looked and felt like it was bought at a garage sale. I don’t think they could have made it any uglier, cheaper, or faster. The detailing on things reminded me of the I Love Lucy episode where she worked in the chocolate factory and couldn’t keep up with the assembly line that just got faster and faster. I knew from day one that the endcaps would soon be overflowing.

Graves on the otherhand is kind of a sleeper at Target. There are a few pieces here and there, all of them priced higher than the things around them. But the weird thing is that no one ever seems to buy it and it never gets moved to the clearance cemetery. I never figured that one out.

I guess the good thing is that they will at least experiment with things when others like Walmart stick with warehouse racking and displays that always remain bolted to the wood pallets they were shipped on. I’m not sure if anyone noticed but Target recently started to carry mens suits. As long as that doesn’t turn into a leisure suit collection from Karim I guess it’s ok. I’ll stick with Brooks Brothers.

holy schnikeys,…

they have hired Frank Goldstein!

I freelanced there once, I’d guess that Bob from Target is a current target employee - and he is right when he says that Target is about giving people new trendy things - not necessarily any great design (lots of somewhat useless knick knacks) but pretty new and fashionable stuff in the eyes of the consumer.

On the note about the “no 3D” work - that is true, I never did 3D while there, or even that many sketches - lots of illustrator - but with that said you could be stuck doing nothing without a job living at home.

In comparing them to IKEA, Target is moving closer towards the IKEA business model - manufacture everything themselves - I’m sure IKEA does trending - but in my opinion - IKEA does not copy nearly as much as Target designers - you see some really cared for, original designs at IKEA, that they somehow make unbelievably cheap. There is a lot of copying that goes on at Target design - not all the time but a fair amount - How do you think they are able to turn out so many designs for every season? (something IKEA doesn’t do)

One more thing about Target design and Target Corporation in general.

I sense that most of the people in their product development food chain are either rookies or wear rose colored glasses. I am regularly handed a handful of half-baked 2-D renderings with a few random dimensions and asked for costing (in packaging) and prototypes in only 2.5 weeks! The specs are light on content and leave room for lots of ambiguity. We ask 30 questions and get 10 answers. We have started turning down projects because of the “Target Sprint Syndrome”. We need to drop everything else on our project list to get the samples and costing completed in the short interval. I’ve warned them many times that it’s garbage-in-garbage-out. When you rush prototypes and costs you end up getting crap. And they do get crap!!!

I fully understand their strategy of giving their guests new designs on a continual basis. They want people to consider Target’s products a “destination purchase” - something you can’t buy anywhere else. The problem is they get second rate products because their process is broken.

They need to:

  • Start their designs earlier, so
  • They can give vendors more time developing samples and optimizing the designs for manufacturing, so
  • They can get better products on the shelf.

It’s easy to see this looking in from the outside. It’s probably hard to see when you’re on the treadmill running so fast…

BTW: We end up selling many more products we have developed internally than the products they have designed. The new trend is for retailers to design their own products. They should stick to being retailers and leave the designing to the people who understand the materials and processes.

Interesting insights. I would’ve thought a company as design focused as Target would find the benefit in embracing 3D.

I’ve heard most of their design staff is either east (NYC) or west (LA, SF) coasters…not much love for the midwest design talent?

Doesn’t this contradict the earlier complaints about them not embracing 3D and giving too little instruction to their vendors? I disagree WRT sticking to retailing–the vast majority of their products is bought, not built. They build strategically for the benefit of the brand. If everyone has the same stuff, why would you want to shop there?

I’m surprised by the flaming on this thread considering that Target is largely responsible for the massification of design in the US. They are one of the best case studies around for leveraging design to resist commoditization and obtain higher price-points. I could have never predicted such a thing a decade ago. No one is better educating the public to DESIGN than Target right now.

If you want to rip a big-box, rip Wal Mart and all the companies that sacrifice design (and their souls) to sell to them.

i agree with both sides. i have done stuff for both target and walmart on the product development and sourceing side. both parties want the lowest cost products to stuff into their shop. the only advantage that target has is that it is a lot more design minded the walmart. target get’s cool crap (cool product design but poor manufacturing due to price and cost of manufacturing) on the shelf but it is still crap when you bring it home. where as wallmart…if it is cheap and dont fall apart when shipped then it is all good and it’s still cheap crap. I had to prepare a trend report and product catalog for internal target buyer once so they can figure out what they want to mod for their own line. then the crap roll down the hill.

i mean if you are young kid out of school and need dishes for your new apartment and has very little money or a young family that needs to feed the new kid…do you realy care about the design of the product…hell no…if it’s $5 for a whole set then get it. who care if it is ugly…it’s only $5.00.

let’s face it most american including me just want cheap crap. cheaper the better that is why walmart is so huge and target is not even close. i also hope someone finally burn walmarts ass on low cost manufacturing. those poor kids in china and asia has to work so hard to fill the walmart orders so americans can have cheap goods.

as for 3d work … man us designers working for large brand name firms never do much 3d art unless asked. they spend more time thinking about design. they leave the 3d drawing for the poor asian designers and 3d cad jocky to do the 3d and tech drawings. they can do it faster and cheaper. have you ever seen a room full of young asian girls makeing 3d and cad drawings…it is a sight to see and so cute. Even the secutary in my taiwan office knows how to do PRO E and Alias.

anyhow that’s my 2 cents

cg: I guess I should have elaborated on my statement. They should focus on co-developing products with their vendors. They are very good at identifying trends and color/texture programs. They should stop there. At that point they should hand them off to strategic vendors to design the products using the trend information. They are failing at the back-end of the product development process. That’s when a product is fully defined and optimized so it can “be all that it can be”. Currently this phase is crunched in the 2.5 week srpint period. Not much time for the vendor to add their secret sauce.

Target either needs to buck-up and develop a real product development department capable of running the full race or get out of the design business and call themselves a trend group.

I don’t disagree that Target has brought good design to the masses. I just think there is huge room for improvement in their process.

I haven’t met many designers that don’t agree that everyone is entitled to good, inexpensive, well-designed products.

They wear suits and ties to work…

Actually, yes I do care about the design! The problem with the cheap stuff from Walmart is that the products break so easily and then you have to replace and buy some cheap stuff again and on and on when the buyer or shopper should have just opted for the more expensive one that’s more durable and quality because in the end it’ll save the consumer money.