Job descriptions and industry overviews


28 Feb 2023, 11:52

Produces an initial design and takes responsibility for its manufacture.

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Crafts-based 'designer-makers' create products that bring together art, form and functionality for commercial purposes. Working at the cutting edge of design, designer-makers manufacture products for mass production, small-scale batch production and bespoke retail. They may sell their products directly through their own outlet, on-line or through galleries and shops.

The role of the designer-maker is undergoing an evolution, away from a marginal activity to one which engages with other disciplines, fine art and design.

Work activities

  • Meeting commissioning clients to discuss design brief for custom ordering and modifying ideas according to feedback received.
  • Researching similar products and attending trade shows to acquire new ideas.
  • Making sketches of ideas by hand or computer and developing the most effective ideas into detailed drawings sometimes using specialist computer software.
  • Understanding technology, production methods and materials (such as textiles, metals and plastics).
  • Choosing materials and ordering samples.
  • Working within budgets and to deadlines.
  • Marketing their products and administering their business.

Work conditions

Travel: within the working day may be required to meet commissioning clients on site, occasional absence from home overnight and overseas travel may be required to source raw materials and attend trade shows.
Working hours: may require flexible working hours to meet deadlines including evening and weekends but these tend to be self imposed.
Location: throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: self-employment is the norm.

Typical employers

Most designer-makers run their own businesses though graduates from designer maker courses can also be found working at design consultancies and as in-house designers.

Career development

Design graduates can find it takes time to become established. Progression will vary depending on the popularity of your products and how aggressively and successful you are at marketing them.


Salary levels vary according to your reputation and demand for your designs.

Specific degree subjects required

There are no set requirements for becoming a designer-maker – your skills and experience can be more important than qualifications.

The multidisciplinary nature of the work means that a range of degree subjects may benefit your career particularly art, design and other 3D creative disciplines.

Other relevant degree subjects

  • Applied arts
  • Art and design
  • Ceramics
  • Fashion design
  • Furniture design
  • Glass and metals
  • Jewellery design
  • Product design
  • Textiles.

Postgraduate study

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not a requirement.

Specific entry requirements

A portfolio of designs will more than likely be required to showcase your talent to potential clients.


Mainly on the job and through regular updating of skills to keep pace with ever changing technology and design concepts.

Tips for applications

Work on your portfolio, create your own projects outside of college work. Illustrate what has been your major design influences by way of mood boards. Attend craft shows and craft markets as an exhibitor.

Two factors that are crucial to your success are thoroughly researching your chosen career area, and making contacts through networking.

Skills and qualities

  • Strong creative flair and purposeful design ability.
  • Inspiration and innovation.
  • Strong visual and spatial awareness combined with well-developed technical skills.
  • Commercial awareness and focus.
  • Good IT skills including being proficient in Autocad.
  • Excellent time management and organisational skills.
  • Excellent attention to detail.
  • Excellent communication skills (written, verbal and presentation).
  • Excellent project management skills.
  • Excellent problem-solving skills.
  • Practical ability, manual dexterity and good hand-eye coordination.
  • Self-discipline and persistence.
  • Ability to work closely with other professionals, such as architects and interior designers.

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