Anticipation vs. Reality

Exploring some of the misconceptions about life as a Designer


The word “designer” often conjures up images of trendy people working on equally trendy and expensive-looking products. They live a jet-set lifestyle travelling across the globe meeting blue-chip clients by day and wining and dining on the finer things by night.

For recently graduated designers the anticipation of making their mark as a professional designer, living the dream with expectations of ‘designer’ glory is a long awaited realisation after years of endless projects and study. The reality is it can often be a difficult transition having to adjust to working with real-life briefs, working alongside your co-workers and very importantly satisfying demanding clients with tight budgets and high expectations.

However, it is not all doom and gloom, quite the opposite in fact for most of the time but there are plenty of misconceptions about design and being a professional designer, here we dispel a few of them.

Everybody will love your work

Design students can be a bit precious about their ideas and when weeks have been spent toiling away on a creation, criticism is sometimes hard to accept. However, in professional design, criticism is everywhere. Ideas initially thought as a stroke of genius end up being shot down in flames left, right and centre. Even the ideas that people do like will need refinement, so it’s important to put a little distance between yourself and your work. Why? Because you are unlikely to be the final decision maker and will have to adapt your input to accommodate the factors which present themselves as the project unfolds.

Design is easy – anybody could do it!

Some solutions are so elegant and effective that it deceives people into believing that they must have been easy to design. On the contrary those solutions took collaboration between many highly skilled members of a team. Being a professional designer isn’t about making choices based just on what you personally like or don’t like. It’s about bringing together a whole raft of skills and knowledge, learnt through hard study and experience.  It’s learning to work collaboratively with co-workers, clients and suppliers, working together towards solving complex and conflicting problems. Hardly surprising then that it still remains a relatively small number of people who can become professional designers and contribute at the highest level in a multi-disciplinary development team.

It’s all about making things “look nice”

Design is often regarded as something superficial which doesn’t really matter, that it’s about the aesthetics and nothing else. But in fact, design thinking permeates the entire product and far beyond, taking into account the potential impacts that the product could have on its users and the environment in both physical and more intangible ways. Design isn’t just simple choices about colour and form, it’s about designing responsibly, fairly and ethically, and educating clients and suppliers to be aware of this and to adopt best working practices.

Designers don’t need to eat

Professional designers know the value they bring to their employers, their co-workers and ultimately to clients. New designers should aspire to employment with those businesses who work with great clients and who can afford to mentor them and reward them properly.

Designers are unappreciated

Some might be, but here at Hillside we are privileged to work with great clients who value us and their work enables us to mentor many young designers and see them develop into the top echelon of professional designers. Our designers have the skills and knowledge to deliver a complete design for manufacturing service, making ideas a reality and guiding our clients from initial concept to marketplace-ready product.

Contact us today

If you’ve got an idea you want to take to market, we will assist you through your journey.  We work closely with all our clients to ensure they have all the support they need throughout the product development process.

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