Crowd-funding has become a popular avenue for raising funds for design-oriented projects. Here’s why.

Build white

Crowd-funding is a growing trend. While the more popular crowd-funded projects involve hardware, technology and other creative work like film and books, design is yet another field that benefits from crowd-funding.

New sites like Crowdy House focus on enabling designers to bring their creations directly to the public, only taking a 10 percent cut from the funding campaign as their own revenue. Even established crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, however, have their success stories. Here are a few examples.

BUILD

Build

German furniture-maker Movisi launched its campaign for BUILD on Indiegogo in 2013 as a modular storage system consisting of oddly-shaped components. The six-sided components are meant to mix-and-match, enabling users to become designers in their own right. According to founders Natascha and Alecks Movisi, fund-raising was not the only reason they turned to Indiegogo for their campaign. They also wanted to see if the market liked the idea. “Yes, we wanted to raise money to manufacture a new product. But also, before we invested in it, we wanted to see if the market liked it. There is no point in making something that nobody wants or needs,” Movisi said in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

Movisi raised $109,365 out of its $100,000 target. But more important than the successful campaign, the brand is now more visible, with the startup now selling each BUILD piece for EUR 50 in more than 26 countries. “We developed a product that is different, but even if you have the best product, you have to really work at getting it seen.”

Lumio

Lumio

Yet another interesting design-oriented and technical project, Lumio is basically a book-like device that opens to reveal a rechargable lamp. Not your run-of-the-mill rechargable lamp, however, Lumio actually resembles a wood-encased book when closed, which adds to its aesthetic appeal.

Max Gunawan, a San Francisco-based architect actually quit his job before launching his own design outfit, and likewise thought to market his ideas through crowdfunding first. Lumio launched on Kickstarter with a $60,000 goal, but ended up getting $578,387 in support from backers. The company is now a self-sustaining business with an international clientele.

Why designers benefit from crowd-funding

According to Crowdy House, crowd-funding for design projects democratizes the process of design. Product designers often have to deal with the pitfalls of pitching their designs to brands and production firms. These would then have to evaluate designs, do ab testing and go through the prototyping process before production. And even then, designers only get a small royalty from product sales.

Our platform means that designers don’t have to take their product to Milan, stand next to it for a week, convince someone to buy it and then only receive 5 percent in royalties of the wholesale price,” says  Mark Studholme at the site’s launch at the Dutch Design Week in late 2013.

portholeHence, curious and interesting designs tend to make their way on Kickstarter’s and Indiegogo’s design pages with some success. Some even have very successful campaigns, like the two examples above. One other success story is the Porthole, which raised $736,112, significantly higher than its $28,500 goal. The idea stemmed from an earlier creation of Martin Kastner’s (pictured left), which was displayed at The Aviary in Chicago. With Kastner’s successful crowd-funding campaign, anyone can make their own creations right at home.

A few other examples: the mobile standing desk StorkStand, reconfigurable furniture system Modos, and one-handed bottle opener Grab-K. Success on crowd-funding sites can be a good gauge of whether the product itself will do well in the market, at least initially.

Of course, not everyone makes it big. But those that do offer products that make their way to our homes and lives one way or another.