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The right design firm ISBN 87-90904-59-1 Published by: Danish Design Centre Frederiksholms Kanal 30 1220 Copenhagen K www.ddc.dk

The right design firm

An introduction to selection and cooperation Danish Design Centre


Finding the right design firm In many regards, choosing a design firm is a matter of taste. But the three Cs – Competence, Creativity and Chemistry – are of fundamental importance.

Competence You need to find a design firm that has competences in the areas that you need. Even though the design process is the same for virtually all product and service areas, there remain issues where some design firms have more experience than others.

Creativity All design firms are essentially good at being creative. The key is, however, to choose a design firm that is able to target its creativity and come up with solutions. Therefore, the design firm has to have the ability to grasp the issues you are currently facing and the talent to express or visualise the results already during the initial meetings e.g.by early stage prototyping.

Chemistry Finally, it is crucial that you find a design firm that you have a good chemistry with, to have a partnership where you can work hard and still have fun together.


Collaboration formats

What does design assistance cost?

Once you have decided to work with a design firm, the first important step is finding the right one. Next, you need to define the collaboration format and the remuneration clearly.

There are three general ways to pay a design firm, which depends on the collaboration format that has been arranged.

There are three possible formats for the collaboration between a design firm and your company:

External collaboration

Fixed price A project plan is drawn up along with a fixed-price bid that is typically invoiced in stages as every phase is completed. The fixed price is based on the design firm’s hourly rate multiplied by the estimated number of hours.

You work with a design firm on a consultancy basis.

Royalties

Ordinary employment You employ a designer on ordinary terms.

A royalty rate is negotiated, perhaps exponentially descending with growing numbers of sold units. A collaboration based on royalty payments means sharing gains and risks.

Project employment

A combination of fixed price and royalties

You hire a designer for a limited period.

A combination arrangement typically involves a modest amount to cover start-up costs, which may be relevant in connection with projects that have a heavy development component. The size of the amount that is allocated to the initial stages has a big impact on the royalty rate.


Selection criteria

3 checks

When you are looking for a external design firm and obtaining bids, it is a good idea to meet with at least three different design firms.

√ What are the most important qualities

The selection of a design firm may be based on such parameters as - The design firm’s presentation - The design firm’s ability to grasp the task at hand - Competences in relation to the task - Working process and remuneration principles - Commercial awareness (from design project to daily operations) - Understanding of your target group - The design firm’s response to your design brief - Implementation - References - Understanding of the industry - Chemistry - Creativity

we look for in choosing a designer?

√ Which design firm meets these criteria? √ Which design on the market come closest to what we are looking for? And do we know who designed it?


It is always a good idea to request several bids in order to have a basis for comparison.

The right design firm

Søren Rødbro, Managing Director, Inelco

Workbook

Remember that the lowest bid is not necessarily the best. Søren Rødbro, Managing Director, Inelco

If the chemistry is bad, the price is irrelevant. Søren Rødbro, Managing Director, Inelco

Choose a design firm that matches your company in size. It is easy for a small client to be overlooked in a very big design firm. Henrik Winther-Olsen, CEO, Castus

Don’t assume that just because they’re external, they won’t know anything about your company, and they won’t be able to teach you anything. In many cases, it is exactly because they don’t know anything about your company that they have something to teach you. Jesper Hejselbæk, Technical Director, J Hvidtved Larsen


Design firm 1

Design firm 2 1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

The design firm’s presentation

The design firm’s presentation

The design firm’s ability to grasp the task at hand

The design firm’s ability to grasp the task at hand

Competences in relation to the task

Competences in relation to the task

Working process and remuneration principles

Working process and remuneration principles

Commercial awareness (from design project to daily operations)

Commercial awareness (from design project to daily operations)

Understanding of your target group

Understanding of your target group

The design firm’s response to your design brief

The design firm’s response to your design brief

Implementation

Implementation

References

References

Understanding of the industry

Understanding of the industry

Chemistry

Chemistry

Creativity

Creativity

Scale: 1 = Very poor 2 = Poor 3 = Medium 4 = Good 5 = Very good

Scale: 1 = Very poor 2 = Poor 3 = Medium 4 = Good 5 = Very good


Design firm 3 1 2 3 4 5 The design firm’s presentation The design firm’s ability to grasp the task at hand Competences in relation to the task Working process and remuneration principles Commercial awareness (from design project to daily operations) Understanding of your target group The design firm’s response to your design brief Implementation References Understanding of the industry Chemistry Creativity Scale: 1 = Very poor 2 = Poor 3 = Medium 4 = Good 5 = Very good

The Right Design Firm  

An introduction to selection and cooperation.

The Right Design Firm  

An introduction to selection and cooperation.

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