Small industrial design consultancies can provide really good value and punch way above their weight.
This blog looks at why this is, how it possible and what to look for, to ensure if you choose this option for your next project, you will not be disappointed.
Why use a consultant or small consultancy (1 – 3 staff)?
From my 30 years plus experience providing industrial design services I would say the biggest advantages an experienced consultancy can deliver are the following:
Obviously a lot of these advantages depend on the quality of staff at these consultancies, but from our clients feedback (see “What they say about us”) Bortz Product Design believes that we provide all of the above.
How is this possible?
So how is this possible, how can few people or even a single person deliver so much?
Years ago, an industrial design studio needed to have draftsmen, artists, model makers, admin staff and all level of industrial designers spending hours getting large and small tasks done. As tools improved and here I refer to the computers and its plethora of software options, the tasks of drafting were sped up by CAD packages, rendering packages cut out the many hours needed by a skilled artist and then 3D printing sped up and replaced the need for skilled in-house model-makers. Mobile phones, messaging, video conferencing other apps have replaced the need for support admin staff. These tools basically distilled these many departments into one multi-disciplinary one.
While all these tools are good, and save a lot of time, all can improved upon by customization or through designers’ ongoing training. Short cut keys, macros and taking advantage of the software’s full potential can squeeze even more into a day. Then there is admin or repetitive tasks like copy, saving exporting, emailing and data management. If these are handled well, or automated more time can be freed up leading to either more productivity.
It should be noted that just because these software packages have got easier to use, have become democratized and almost everyone has access to them, it does not mean that the results being produced are equal. Tools are just tools and it is the user that creates the result.
An experienced designer is such a user. With years of design projects under their belt, an ability to understanding their client’s real needs, with links in industry, good time management and ongoing professional development of keeping abreast with the latest tools, customizing and refining their own tools gives them the edge to punch well above their weight.
What to look for.
Knowledge and experience: How long has the consultancy or designer been around – true knowledge usually comes with experience? What type of projects and how many have they worked on? The more varied the projects the better as one of the skills of a good designer is the ability to cross pollinate ideas from totally different projects creating novel solutions. Review their portfolio of projects, do they display quality, variety and technical know how.
Personality: Make sure that you have a good rapport with the designer so that you will be able to communicate effectively and enjoy the process. Are they professional in the way they work, do they have integrity and what is the quality of the work. What is their motivation or drive, their ability and affinity for the process of design, business and its allied skills. If they outwardly enjoy the whole spectrum of business not just design but also client and supplier interactions, project management and administration then you have a winner.
Service: This is almost an extension of personality. Can the designer meet deadlines, make the process run smoothly, provide good feedback and deliver on time.
Design fee: Although a small consultancy has lower overheads and you will not be paying for a “design team” to provide the service, there is still the issue of intellectual property which is being sold. This is very difficult to put a figure too and where there are new or novel solutions being generated (that could be protected by law) expect the price to be higher than just having a simple design drafted up.
Use the advantage
With the current Covid-19 situation still in full swing it is a good time to be developing your next project. Now you know small consultancies with all the other advantages they offer that are used to working remotely and independently, it would be a good time to make use of one.
Boost you design solutions using the small consultancy advantage.