The ideal portfolio…

We get a lot of portfolios every year and thought (particularly as times are tough for the graduate industrial designer) it might be useful to list what we look for in a portfolio and CV.  This is just our opinion – always try to get direct feedback from other industrial designers out there.  As with any design project be prepared to re-think your approach when it comes to the portfolio.

•    90% of CVs we get are just not well thought out and usually have the most relevant stuff on the last page!! Like any good bit of interface design it needs to get the relevant info across quickly and effectively.

•    Work experience (especially in a design related capacity) should be FIRST.

•    Find out the name of the person you are writing to: We usually bin those addressed ‘Dear Sir/ Madam’ even if they are wonderful. It shows an obvious lack of interest in the company. Do your research.

•    If you don’t want to send out a portfolio ensure the web link to your online portfolio is at the top of the CV and obvious.


•    Small portfolio – 3 or 4 projects (maybe 2 pages per project). You need something left to show at the interview!

•    A project that is original (not a standard project from your course) always goes down well.

•    Show the thinking behind the design – not just a CAD or marker rendering. eg. exploded views card models and rough sketches. Anything that clearly shows the way the product works is great.

•    Show some understanding of production processes and materials. A big plus in our view.  Ring up a local supplier to get some advice and include that in your presentation.

•    Clean layout – minimal backgrounds please, please, please. It makes our eyes hurt otherwise.

•    Put your best work FIRST! (or we may get bored…)

What sort of experience should you be going for?  Getting manufacturing experience is very important and is something that design consultancies do not always provide.  It doesn’t matter what they make but will give you first hand experience of manufacturing and how to design for production.  Work experience of this sort will always get you noticed (over and above any cool cad renderings).  Check out the local business parks or the trade shows to find suitable manufacturing companies.   A excellent book on the subject is ‘Manufacturing Processes for Design Professionals’ by Rob Thompson.

While we are not looking for anyone at the moment we hope this quick list helps in your search.

PS think about starting up a really great design blog – it can be a good way to get noticed…  check out Jared Thompson’s Design Juices