Connecting Designers and Manufacturers

NYDesigns, in collaboration with the New York Industrial   Retention Network (NYIRN) of the Pratt Center for Community Development, initiated strategies to strengthen the relationship between NYC designers and small manufacturers with the goal of increasing local production, stimulating growth, and creating jobs by capitalizing on the extraordinary wealth of design talent now concentrated in NYC, particularly the free-design community that has emerged in Brooklyn and Queens.


While the design community has always been substantial in New York, it has grown significantly in recent years influenced partially by growing consumer awareness and appreciation of local design and local sourcing.


While there is obvious interest from the design, production and consumer communities in a revitalized manufacturing sector, there are nevertheless market impediments:


  • There is a misperception within both the general public and the design community that manufacturing has fled the city and that there is no longer the capacity to prototype or produce locally. In fact, there are currently more than 6,000 manufacturers in New York City;


  • Both the design community and the manufacturing sector are overwhelmingly composed of small businesses. Manufacturers generally lack the capacity to promote their services (either individually or as a group), and designers do not have the networks, local knowledge, or sufficient incentives to investigate local production options;


  • There are pricing obstacles which are real from the perspectives of both designers and manufacturers but which can be addressed through cross-sector knowledge transfer


  • There exists no public forum in which designers and manufacturers can share knowledge about their respective practices and adapt their expectations and processes in order to simplify partnership and collaboration


During the 2013 editions of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) and NYCXDESIGN, NYDesigns and the Pratt Center for Community Development, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, hosted public conversations between manufacturers and the designers they have worked with and led a series of tours through the facilities of manufacturers Shapeways and Architectural Grille. The goals of the conversation and tours were to stimulate awareness of local manufacturing in NYC, link local designers to local manufacturers and to stimulate a more robust working relationship between the two audiences.


  • What are the needs of the designer as perceived by the manufacturer? What are the needs of the manufacturer as perceived by the designer?
  • How are cost and expenses broken down for both designer and manufacturer?
  • What would make the designer’s life simpler when looking for a manufacturing partner? What would make the manufacturer’s life simpler when a designer seeks their services?
  • Stories of collaborations gone wrong and collaborations done right



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