"Designers should be more entrepreneurial"
- Tom Hulme at Dezeen Live


IDEO UK design director Tom Hulme advocates that "designers should be more entrepreneurial" and design every part of a business in this movie we filmed as part of the Dezeen Live series of discussions during the talks programme at 100% Design during London Design Festival.

"Designers should be more entrepreneurial" - Tom Hulme

Above: Marcos car racing against others

Hulme discusses the ideas that designers should be open and willing to collaborate, as well as using new platforms for promotion. "I'm always concerned when I see designers that are not prepared to put stuff out in the wild," he says. "In the past we were forced to cart around portfolios because the barrier to do anything else was enormous, but publications like [Dezeen] are giving people visibility."

"Designers should be more entrepreneurial" - Tom Hulme

Above: a bag Hulme designed for flip-flop brand Havaianas

"The tools are becoming accessible to be creative around how you sell stuff, marketing, branding. I think designers can do that like never before," he adds.

"Designers should be more entrepreneurial" - Tom Hulme

Hulme built a company around an engineering component he designed that is now used in Ferrari Formula One cars (above). He also shares the rest of his professional journey during the talk, from car brand Marcos where he found it easier to become managing director than designer, to working on new ideas for flip-flop brand Havaianas, and finally becoming design director of design consultancy IDEO UK.

"Designers should be more entrepreneurial" - Tom Hulme

Above: a design challenge set by IDEO with Jamie Oliver

Dezeen Live was a series of discussions between Dezeen editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs and a number of designers and critics that took place as part of the talks programme at 100% Design during this year's London Design Festival. Over the next few weeks we'll be posting all the movies we filmed during the talks.

The music featured in the movie is a track called Black Widow by east London band Strong Asian Mothers. You can listen to more of their music on Dezeen Music Project.

  • Mike

    … and therefore better businessmen/women.

    I personally don’t know any architects/designers that make any more than a garbage man while others profit grossly on their intellectual property.

    • Dave

      Society profits greatly from having garbage men.

  • jamesmcbennett

    Mike: having looked into the issue extensively, in architecture SHoP Architects NY would be by considerable margin the best example of architects and business minds. You can find various online lectures of Gregg Pasquorelli at AA, Berlage, GSD and couple more (only watch one as they are all the same!). IP is suitable to a small number of business cases of which many design entrepreneurs should be concerned with many other business issues, not so much IP.

    I think the shift is with a range of tools that are now accessible to designers such as Kickstarter. I love Dezeen, but don’t think Dezeen you guys cover small design ideas to the same extent as a platform to launch design-entrepreneurs.

    It is amazing what is going on in US with the designer fund http://designerfund.com/ and you see designers behind many of these large startups such as Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square. I could go on and on with references to designers in entrepreneurship and strongly believe that this is a very exciting space.

  • So here we are. Architects should consider transforming themselves into archi-preneurs to make more profit. I found a case where an architecture office established a leasing company for commercial projects they designed. It seems the priority has shifted from creating designs to selling retail spaces. So sad.

    • I think you’re missing the point entirely. This is not about making more profit, its about retaining or rather obtaining control.

      A decade ago there were no project managers, now project managers manage building sites. Architects used to do that. Developers dictate spec and in most cases aesthetic and layout, architects are no more than CAD monkeys and are paid accordingly.

      IF you created a building as an architect, project manager and developer, you would, I hope, create a far more special space. As a secondary issue, you may make more money.

      • Hey, thanks for your correction. I was criticizing something else, and I admitted it has nothing to do with the topic. It's a good thing that architects should gain more control on their designs. And that's exactly the point, I agree with that. The case I was referring to is when architects become "Cad monkeys" who are paid by the clients not only to follow what they want, but also to sell the design directly as one of the client's marketing army.

  • I really enjoyed this talk and found myself agreeing with pretty much all of what Tom said.

    As someone who studied design and went into business I’ve long believed it’s the way to be creative and make a decent living. And for many years I’ve tried to persuade my fellow designers to do the same. What I’ve learnt is that you can’t.

    There is a different skill set involved, and I think its a skill set which you either have or don’t have. The burning desire to want to go out and build something. A high tolerance of risk and stress.

    It’s a great idea and I wish more people would make the jump, but my feeling is, if you can, you probably already have.

  • Yascherch

    Thanks for all this great and valuable information.

  • max

    Blablabla… And every month I get my salary from the big Ideo factory, which absorb a big part of the market. Thanks for making a better world with Jamie Oliver that of course deserves the Nobel Prize. Not every designer has to be a chief of marketing and communication. GOD!