This Business of Design

By John Pickard, PhilaU ID Masters Candidate

As we move forward on the Federal Mogul project, both the designers and business students are learning new skills. One of the hardest, at least for me, is learning to create a product that fits the business needs of a multi-billion dollar company instead of simply making a “sexy” object. For a designer, that means learning how to think about money: what it means and the strategies that are used to make it.

That finance-driven discussion is what’s going on in the studios right now. Our work is focusing on the business plan and how to develop and quantify our concepts in relation to it. In our last class, Bryce Beamer spoke about how to decide on what concepts should move forward using the criteria that Federal Mogul gave us. To evaluate our work, we were tasked with developing benchmarks to measure the suitability of our concepts. These standards will help ensure that the project stays on the right track.

Though most of the grads have previous experience in a professional field, it’s still new for many of us to be tasked with designing a business plan. Along with all the initial head scratching, there’s also an inner sigh of relief that we’re learning these crucial skills. The fog that has, for many of us, long surrounded the inner workings of business and marketing is being blown away. Even at this early stage, our collaboration with Federal Mogul is giving us a better understanding of why businesses make the choices they do. It’s also showing us how we can use design and design thinking to begin transformative dialogues with business.

Like the ID grads, the business students are also expanding their skills by finding new ways to think outside of standard case studies. Unique materials can have market value in the most unexpected places and those are the opportunities we’re searching for. Together, the ID grads and business students are advancing the project as well as getting valuable practice in how to communicate and collaborate with each other once in the field.


About corlettt

I teach industrial design at Philadelphia University.
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