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Introduction of wanna-be designer (longish)


#1
Hi. I'm 54, in poverty, and I've got to set up a business to get out of an unemployment rut. I'm thinking I might venture by designing things and attending to their production.

To simplify, lets just take it as given that I have the intelligence and the aptitude.

Okay, I want to retire in a house in the country. And I will need to live off the proceeds from my company in retirement. So, I'm trying to figure how I can achieve my goals through an involvement with design .

I don't know what the financial rewards can be, but, I imagine, I can get my house in the country by setting up a sort-of (internal) design house.

The things is, at the moment, in my minds eye, I see myself relying on income from profits from manufacturing and sales of products, rather than income from designing activity. And I tend to see myself engaging with product design, if anything.

I guess then what I'm probably envisaging is becoming a small manufacturer, yet I feel getting significantly involved with design, and maybe, in the fulness of time, I will be able to advise on design, and not simply design for myself.

Things are a bit fuzzy, but I'm hoping things will clarify.

I'm thinking about doing an Open University degree. My options are:
Bachelor of Engineering (B24, B65)
Business Studies (B70, B04)
Design & Innovation (B61)
Leadership & Management (B54)
Technology (B20)
Open Degree (BD)


I'm not sure
exactly what degree to start. I muse that if my plan was to be paid for design services, you would probably major in design & innovation and minor in business. But, seeking to set up as a manufacturer, you might major in business and minor in design.

Your insights appreciated.
 
#2
I think what it is, is that I'm seeing contract manufacture as the likely opening scenario to any business venture involving the production of products. And, in practice, that is making my future busines akin to a design department, or a kind of design house. And when I think about that situation I start thinking, if I were to do a degree, what should I do. I suppose one of the degrees in the list might be best, but I reckon would not be fatal to choose any. But, I do wonder what people might think was the best degree.

I'm thinking about doing an Open University degree. My options are:
Bachelor of Engineering (B24, B65)
Business Studies (B70, B04)
Design & Innovation (B61)
Leadership & Management (B54)
Technology (B20)
Open Degree (BD)
 

Tom Sound

Active Member
#4
I think any of the degrees will help you in some way. I would also think that someone with more life experience built up over your years as yourself would be better concentrating on the management side of the projects as opposed to the actual design element as there are lots of spring chickens with years headstart with regards to mastering design software which may delay you in the offset. As you say in an advisory/project management capacity. It depends on your previous experience, but maybe one of the business or management degrees would stand you in good stead to prepare you for any part of the design or product manufacture industry you end up in.

Best of luck with your future,
 

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
#5
First welcome to the forum.

I'm just going to be honest with you and say it... at 54 realistically you've not got a chance in product design unless you're already well established. When I was at uni (I did product design and work in the field now) we had someone around your age on our course and he didn't have the skills that the younger students had and struggled. Quality of work suffered and in most people's opinion the idea's they had were of lesser quality.

Unless your computer skills are up there with us younger designers you're going to struggle doing most area's of product design as it literally all revolves around cad once you get past your initial idea stage.

Then there's also the issue with your age, why would a company use you over a younger, arguably more dynamic designer.

If I was at your age and looking to get into the 'product design' fields I'd be doing it for personal satisfaction, not for making a pension fund.

You may have more chance with a managerial role within the field, organising the contracts for manufacture etc so I'd suggest looking towards that direction for a degree
 
#6
Just to be clear: Studying product design (if I did) is for use, by me, within my business. And on that score, I'd not be seeking to act as an agent for anyone - to design for them, but so that I can do better (through understanding of the design process, manufacturing processess) at coming up with ideas and designing my own products, and then bringing them to manufacture. Of course, it would be wise to think carefully about what kind of products to think about designing. Although, I don't think someone of my age is entirely incable of understanding and appreciating market/people needs of any age group or sector or product. I do get the point about CAD, but again I am a technically minded person. So, I personally would not see learning CAD much of a problem. In fact, it would be essential that I cope with CAD, (unless some one else was brought in to deal with that).

I think many might think it could be best sort of (because in the UK we don't generally have the major/minor system) to major in management, minor in design. And that would be possibly a tad better than majoring in design and minoring in management. Either would probably do, but, just want to get people's thoughts.
 
#7
Basically, I think what folks are saying is, sure you can do some design and innovation in any studies, but if you can, focus or major on the ideas, the marketing and the management, and try to let someone else deal with the nitty-gritty of design. That's what is coming across.
 

Tom Sound

Active Member
#8
I think that is how your time would be best used yes, it's fine being a jack of all trades but even if you're good in lots of fields it doesn't always give you enough time to get things done. There's plenty of excellent, trained, up to date designers looking for work that you could use to your advantage, buying you the time to concentrate in starting and getting the business model up and running.
 

berry

Active Member
#9
Welcome to DF Richard. Good news and bad news.
I'm 54 and have been in this business for nearly 40 continuous years have a creative reputation and possible a hundred or so creative awards to my nam... and `i don't even have a freeking caravan.
If you want a short term get rich quick scheme then design or degrees is not the answer.
.... find a need for a product and supply that need. It may be wheelie bin cleaning or hand baked muffins to your door. Open a fish and chip shop in the countryside or put a drinks vending machine at the top of Ben Nevis.

Think laterally. what do people want that they cant get - then supply that need. Good luck

.
 
#10
I thought that if you had a successful design studio, with a healthy list of clients, then it would be significantly rewarding. Sounds like you can earn more opening up a corner shop. :c). Probably true in a lot of cases.

But, let's be clear, doing design, for me, would be a matter of a tool, not a business. I'd be studying design so that I could design products for the ideas I have and needs identified. Then I'd arrange for their production and reap the rewards of the sales of the products.

As to the degree: I absolutely agree, that you don't get rich doing degrees. I don't actually need a degree, but thought I might try for one for various reasons, one of which was that it would teach me something about design, but I know a degree is not some magic answer for business success.

You can do a lot with books of course. Learn a lot from books.

Also, do design studios ever turn their hand to establishing needs, designing the product, then arranging manufacture and enjoying the proceeds thereof?
 

berry

Active Member
#11
It is rewarding but it is not as rewarding as YOU think. There is Rent, Insurance, Computers, Salaries, PAYE, Utility bills, Sick pay, Tax, VSAT, Corporation Tax and a hundred other things that need paying.
If you want less stress and a big bank account then the Escort or Porn service is your sector.

Why would design studios ever want turn their hand to establishing needs, designing the product, then arranging manufacture and enjoying the proceeds? We run a business of designing not entreprenueral adventure.This is the real world, and I'm not really sure if you know it's out there.

If you want to just get rich, buy some lottery tickets.
 
#12
It really seems to me that you've had an idea for a product and are considering learning the skills to design, build, market and supply yourself, rather than employ people to do it for you - is that right?
 
#13
Is there anyone else here whose mind is so corrupted, so cynical, that they have no better powers of judgement than to think I am of the wanna-get-rich-quick-and-try-any-quick-rich-scheme type? Oh boy! Takes someone simply to mention what they want out of life (house in the country, in my case) and that is enough to be condemned and judged as someone with no other thought than riches on their mind. Such judgement, so easliy brought forth, is quite pathetic really. Shameful.
 

berry

Active Member
#14
....Then be more eloquent and direct in your communication. Our opinions are based on your information. You are the one who raised the financial issues in your first post. You stated clearly your objectives and desires. You asked for insight, and that has been provided. If it is not the answer you sought then that is unfortunate.
 
#15
I don't want to run a business of designing, but a business arranging production of physical products from my own ideas, or market needs identified. Of course, therefore there is a need to design. In that situation the capability to design is akin to a tool. In theory, I can learn design and then I have that tool myself. However, as has been pointed out, wisdom could dictate that design is best "farmed out", leaving time for devotion to all the other things that need to be attended to - given the business objective.
 

DeanZappy

Senior Member
#16
2 of my friends are product designers, and even getting a simple workable prototype takes a long time. And if you are serious about making money from your product, getting it to market will require a huge amount of time & financial investment.

Or try Dragons Den.
 

Sunburn

Active Member
#17
Richard, if you want a place in the country, forget about the degrees and the studying just get on with the moving and relocate to the country and open a guest house! best of both worlds, you provide a solution to a demand whilst also rewarding yourself with fulfilling your goals :) ...

Or am i being to simple?
 
#19
Well, anyway, simplest thing for me to do, when starting out with the intention of bringing things to production and to market quickly and with minimal costs, is to concentrate on ideas, marketing, finances, sales, management etc. Specifically, to go for contract manufacture or licensing, and to farm-out the design of products. So, taking that approach, when it comes to design, the thing to do (I know) is to get to know what a design brief is and supply that. That design brief should represent a great deal of work on marketing, based on customer needs, opportunities in the market. I'd do that, and it would not be supplied until after some feasibility study, making sure nothing is unlikely, (should never go with a plan if some key element is unlikely).

If I get a plan together that I estimate is feasible, I may tout for a product designer. Well, that I think, will be a neccessity.

So, if I do a degree (not that my business will depend on it), I think it certainly the case that business and management should be the focus, perhaps with some (mere) appreciation of design. After all, I'm not starting a design business.
 

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
#20
richard7281 said:
If I get a plan together that I estimate is feasible, I may tout for a product designer. Well, that I think, will be a neccessity.
I hope you've got a good bank balance already then, they charge between £30+ per hour, hell I know some at £50+ and as a general idea of how long it takes a design to go from concept to manufacture let alone getting it on shop shelves it would take 6 months to a year for anything with a reasonable amount of complexity... so that's what £30,000+ easily....

How do I know this, well first I trained as a product designer and second I work with product designers :up:

If you want to get an idea of how much your idea would cost, write down a brief then feel free to contact me, include an nda for signing if you're worried about the idea and I'll give you a rough idea of how much it would cost to get the concept 'designed', not including any sample models.