Why aren’t product designers as valued as other creatives?

By Steve Martinuzzo.

This is the face of one of IKEA’s most experienced designers, Ehlén Johansson. IKEA proudly credits their designers; throughout their business, in store, on the product packaging and even moulded into the products themselves. Their designers help make IKEA the huge success that it continues to be. So why do some companies erase their designers out of the picture?

Ehlen Johansson's Tradig collection for IKEA.

Ehlén Johansson’s Tradig collection for IKEA.

If you hire an architect to design your home; or a professional photographer to do a formal family portrait, you would happily share this fact with your friends. Maybe even brag about it. And if you commissioned an architect to design your business’s head office, or used a leading graphic designer for your companies impressive new branding you wouldn’t be shy about sharing these associations. Afterall, it can only reflect well on an individual or business when you use a creative professional or firm that is at the top of their field.

However one creative area where this doesn’t always happen is in the field of product design. For every IKEA, there are still too many companies that fail to properly credit their product designers’ involvement.

Other exemplar companies (and industries) that proudly acknowledge the designers that assist in creating their products include:

  • Swiss telephone company, SwissVoice who name their designers throughout their marketing and even on the product packaging.
  • Ikea is a classic example of the former, and in general the furniture design sector is very good at this.
  • Closer to home, long term CobaltNiche clients such as Concave and Spears Pacific embrace this concept.
BH01i Bluetooth Handset with Speaker & Dock by Swissvoice who ackowledge their product designers. Image courtesy

BH01i Bluetooth Handset with Speaker & Dock by SwissVoice who acknowledge their product designers. Image courtesy of SwissVoice.

Whilst companies who do this are very diverse, they share some attributes of being confident in their customers to appreciate that their product’s design was a broad team effort.  There may also be a cultural element, in that in general the role and independence of ‘designer’ and ‘client’ seems to be more defined by Europeans.

Quantum 1 football boot from Concave who openly acknowledge CobaltNiche as their product designers. Image courtesy of CobaltNiche.

Quantum 1 football boot from Concave who openly acknowledge CobaltNiche as their product designers. Image courtesy of CobaltNiche.

We all used to be ad hoc about attributing credit to the author of something insightfully written, or the photographer responsible for a great picture. So, hopefully one day the norm and the business sense will be clear about, and celebrate, our product designers too.

Design credit2

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