Bedroom no good? Try doing it in the garden

I want to reply to Stephen Knowles’ letter in which he argues that the bedroom is no place for product development (DW 19 March).

Knowles feels that this business model, mentioned by Jim Dawton (DW 26 February), is ‘at odds with reality’. It isn’t – it is reality. Controversially, Dawton also said, ‘UK consultancy is losing the skills to deliver product design.’ I disagree with that, too – both models co-exist and clearly work.

Outsourcing design delivery to the guy in the bedroom is not a recipe for disaster, and Knowles’ view that this may only work with low-tech products is both naive and dismissive of the capabilities of these designers. He asks, ‘Can you imagine Philips, Nokia or GSK outsourcing to a guy in a bedroom?’ Well, designers, including myself, have undertaken challenging projects for clients like these, and all from the relative comfort of home. So there.

Knowles goes on to say ‘mistakes or poor design can have a financial impact many times greater than the design fees’, scornfully implying the guy in the bedroom will offer less quality and greater risk of failure. I apply the same professionalism, tools, resources, skills, experience and expertise as I did when working for a consultancy. The only difference now is that I sit at a different desk in a different location, but this in no way compromises my ability to deliver – the end result is the same for the client.

What Knowles fails to recognise is that the ‘where’ isn’t important. Fortunately for designers of the bedroom variety, most clients show understanding and want the same as they always want – a great working relationship, great value and great results.

The best investment in design is in the designers. Whether they work from home and use a network of contacts or have everything under one roof, it makes no difference to the end result for the client.

I may even move my product development out of the bedroom and into the garden – summer approaches.

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