Finding the right industrial designer is a bit more complicated than finding a graphic or web designer. Most of the time, project requires someone local who is able to meet you many times in order to prototype, test and iterate until agreeing on the right MVP (Minimum Viable Product).
You need someone who knows his way around sketching, 3D modeling, materials and prototyping. And can make the right choice for later manufacturing. Don’t see it as a short-term relationship. Developing the right product takes time and you have to be sure you pick the right person to do it with you.
If you are a young company on a budget or don’t know a designer, there are many useful online resources.
A bit of advice before to dive into this list of resources:
tip #1 – Remember that the best way is often to ask your friends and friends of friends if they have anyone to recommend.
tip #2 – Spending time in your local hackerspace or Fab Lab can help you getting in touch with designers as well.
tip #3 - It’s also always a good idea to attend local design school exhibitions or showcase events. You will be able to talk with students who might be interested in your project.
Knowing that, finding your product designer online has also many advantages. You can spend time browsing their portfolio and make sure their style fits your vision, and it’s always good to be able to read reviews, compare prices and check references.
Here are online places where you can find the perfect industrial designer for your hardware project:
The Design Directory is a guide to design firms and creative agencies from all around the world. Choose the speciality needed, a location and a budget, and discover design firms. More than 23,000 industrial design companies are listed.
Coroflot is a website that allows designers to publish their portfolio easily. Look at the “industrial design” and “3D modeling” category, browse into the profiles and contact designers.
Behance is a very popular and qualitative platforms for designers. You can search by country and skills.
The group is organized by folders and sub-folders from sketches to final renderings, and specific topics such as transportation or technical design. Browse into the work of 144 members, who can be amateurs, students or pro designers. You can send a note to members by signing up on DeviantArt.
Dribbble is a portfolio website for designers. It also includes a job board. Search and job posts are paid. About 270 industrial designers are registered on the website, so it can be worth checking.
With more than 6,200 members and 80,000 posts, Product Design Forums is the leading community forums for industrial designers. On the gallery, you can also see pieces created by the members. You can post an offer for free on the job board too.
Go to the “Hello, I’m a designer. I’m an engineer” group on RepRap forums. It’s a good place to find CAD experts, 3D printing and prototyping specialists as well as industrial designers. It’s not very active but don’t hesitate to post anyway.
Guru is a marketplace that puts in touch freelancers and employers. It counts about 3,000 industrial designers.
The Loop is an Australian marketplace for creative pros. More than 400 industrial designers are listed on the website, with quality portfolio.
The popular outsourcing marketplace ODesk has about 100 industrial designers and more than 400 CAD-3D modeling specialists. Unless you know exactly which profile and skills you want, it might take time to browse through each profile and find the right person for your project.
Elance is a direct competitor to oDesk and one of the biggest marketplace for outsourcing. Extensive list of industrial designers, located in the US and all around the world.
Quirky might be a little tricky to use. On this website, people gather to design a product together and Quirky takes care of the manufacturing and distribution parts. If you have already developed a prototype on your own or plan to manufacture and sell your own product, simply use Quirky as a marketplace of talents. Each member has its own profile and it can be worth it to take a look at some of the active and clever contributors, and contact them directly.
GrabCAD is a very large and active community of engineers sharing their 3D models. It’s a good place to find a CAD expert as you can send a message to the members once signed up. The platform is free.
Other good places to find product designers is to spend time looking at marketplaces such as 3D models martketplaces (Thingiverse, Shapeways, Sculpteo, Ponoko, i.materialise, Sketchfab), DIY marketplaces (Etsy, Goodsmiths) or makers’ social network (Knowable). On these websites, it’s usually a mix of amateurs and professionals. Be careful and make sure the person has the right skill before to sign a contract.
Picture credit: Earplugs sketch by Spencer Mugent from Sketch-a-Day (CC-by-NC-ND)
Hope you enjoyed this post.
If you know more useful resource, leave a comment below and I’ll update the article.