The bedroom is no place for product development

I’m writing in response to Jim Dawton’s article in your Professional Development supplement (DW 26 February). I feel his piece effectively writes off product design practice, and proposing a new model is at odds with reality.

His assertion that an exciting new direction for product design delivery is ‘to form elite teams operating at strategic level, boardroom level, while outsourcing the nuts-and-bolts design delivery to the guy in the bedroom’ is a recipe for disaster.

While this model may work for some simple, low-tech products, it is inappropriate for the development of most products, whether consumer, industrial or medical.

Rapid development of cutting-edge products requires a tightly knit team operating in the boardroom, the studio and on the factory floor.

Can you imagine Philips, Nokia or GSK outsourcing to a guy in a bedroom? Companies like these want a fully integrated partner to support them through the entire process with diverse creative and technical skills, well-equipped facilities and robust quality management.

The costs of design and engineering are only a small fraction of the those involved in launching a product, but mistakes or poor design can have a financial impact many times greater than the design fees.

At Industrial Design Consultancy, we are wedded to the belief that developing innovative products is about industrial designers and engineers solving complex problems in a creative and dynamic environment.

Product design practice has never been a ‘cosy cottage industry’, but now, more than ever, it must justify its fees, compete on its commercial merits and show value at every stage of the process.

Our experience at IDC shows there is still a market for high-quality, fully integrated product development services and, as our Chinese and Indian clients will confirm, it’s global.

Stephen Knowles, Managing director, Industrial Design Consultancy, by e-mail

Hide Comments (1)Show Comments (1)
  • Casper November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I worked at Philips and they don’t really care where their external design contractors work as long as they get the job done, I’m almost certain some of them were working from their bedroom. So there goes your theory…

  • Post a comment

Latest articles