What to Consider When Hiring an Industrial Design Firm

In the business of consumer products, companies usually have an in-house design team that is tasked to bring out the creativity to the design and production of their products. However, there are companies that choose to hire an outsider firm instead. While working with an external industrial design firm provides certain conveniences, doing so may also mean giving up control of the project or coming up with a product that does not represent your brand’s requirements.

It is therefore essential to work only with the best industrial design firms to ensure that you come up with products that not only meet your requirements, but are also functional and possible to manufacture.

Indeed, it is easy to scout for industrial design firms that you can hire for your project. However, before choosing one, here are some factors to consider:

  1. Get to know the firm’s DFM (design for manufacturing).

Design for manufacturing (DFM) refers to the general engineering practice of designing products in a manner that makes them easy to manufacture. While the concept is present in almost all engineering disciplines, implementation differs depending on the manufacturing technology.

It is essential that you get to know the firm’s DFM practices. DFM helps identify potential problems and address them accordingly during the design phase, and have them resolved at the least cost.

There are many factors that affect manufacturability, such as the type and form of raw material to be used, dimensional tolerances, and secondary processing such as finishing.

  1. Evaluate each member of the design team.

You may have come up with a shortlist of the best industrial design firms, but you should understand that they are not born equal. They all differ in terms of expertise, level of experience, and most of all, the individual abilities of the design team members.

You may want to look into the accolades garnered by the members of the industrial design firm that you have shortlisted. Have they been recognized for their work through award-giving bodies, or cited in industrial design platforms? Where did they study industrial design? Who are the clients that they have each worked with?

Getting to know more about each member of the design team helps you decide whether they can take over your project and develop the product you have in mind.

  1. Does the firm employ core design principles to achieve good design?

Developing a product may rely heavily on research, creativity, and insight, but there are still core design principles that have to be followed.

Dieter Rams, one of the most prominent names in industrial engineering, has provided a set of principles that make good design. According to him, good design:

  1. is innovative
  2. makes a product useful
  3. is aesthetic
  4. makes a product understandable
  5. is unobtrusive
  6. is honest
  7. is long-lasting
  8. is thorough down to the last detail
  9. is environmentally friendly
  10. involves as little design as possible

Does the firm you are looking to work with follow these principles?

  1. Does the firm have a design process that you wish to achieve for your product?

Lastly, it is essential that the firm’s design process is in line with the product you want to be developed. For instance, a design team is renowned for designing small plastic parts uses a different design process than a firm that focuses on sheet metal manufacturing.

You may want to look deeper into the firm’s design process, so you can gauge whether it is the type of process suited for your product.