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As consultancies, I think a lot of these studios are good at talking about, discussing, dissecting, developing methods for design, but I do see them suffer from the lack of being able to produce something that has any tangible merit as a product. What you see often is that people leave these places and then go off to work in-house somewhere as a designer and design evangelist, or they start their own company.
Mostly, these places exist to be the presence that bends the executive mindset towards design and their customers, as opposed to earnings reports. Sad that the larger world of business is that myopic.
I agree - when you start to really embrace branding as part of a broader product ecosystem rather than 1-dimensional service offerings (ie: we sell crap on a website) then both products and brands are elevated far beyond what a typical brand agency can do.
But if there's a caveat it's that not all of these HCD / ID firms do branding particularly well, or understand branding beyond a logo on their products.
And a LOT of HCD/ID firms put a huge emphasis on 'design thinking'... which I think is incredibly cliché. It's just the buzz-lingo that everyone else is using, so they must use it also.
And the other problem that i'm personally aquainted with is: Product / Industrial Designers who also think they're brilliant brand / graphic designers...
But, in the end, it's much more interesting to be involved with developing brands early in a products lifecycle as opposed to retro-fitting a brand to a product that has already undergone engineering and manufacturing.
- exactly this. Branding these days is really about experience. It always feels like it's applied after the fact though. Rather than being at the core of a companyBaskerviIle
- being at the core of what a company or product is about. I want to work closer to that companyBaskerviIle
The core77 design directory will also help you find similar companies to Ideo / Frog: http://www.designdirectory.com/ but mostly it is pure ID firms.
Something worth noting is that a lot of these historically 'human-centered' ID firms are really riding the User-Experience horse hard these days (especially Frog). A lot of their UX / UI grew out of their clients needs for a more inclusive approach to industrial design. (Ie: We have an electronics product with an interface, rather than contracting out the UX/UI work to a different design agency, why not just have the same company who does the ID work do the UX/UI?)
To be honest I think the results are mixed. Some of these companies have done extremely good UX + UI work, while others is usually subpar.
Thanks a lot.
d_rek, that's some really useful information.
I'm considering a move toward HCD and wanted to just see what the landscape was like. I feel like there's more interesting (and useful) thinking coming out of these companies than out of more conventional branding agencies.
The company I work for, Altair Thinklabs (http://altairthinklabs.com), plays in the same space as Ideo + Frog.
Really these companies are focused on 'human-centered design', which has a stronger Industrial Design component than say your typical branding/digital agency.
Ideo has pretty much written the book (and are constantly re-writing) terms of multi-disciplinary approach to human-centered design.
Those are just a few of the bigger companies. Pininfarina is more of a pure ID company, with a deeper history of european automotive and transportation design. Their ID group only grew out of their Auto+trans offerings as a way to grow their capability offering to their customer base.
Can anyone name some more design-led companies like Ideo or Frog who set out to solve problems through design, using a number of disciplines: strategy, product design, interaction etc.