Who are we talking to?
We are Jones & Partners. We are innovative and rigorous product design experts with a tried and tested approach to helping our clients get their product visions to market. We are the ones with the biggest smiles on our faces and biggest bags under our eyes – motivated by overcoming challenges and successful launches.
How long has the business been established?
The business was set up in July 2000, following a year of travelling to find my soul (still searching). When I started the business it was just me in my bedroom with a £500 computer. My brother loaned me the money. The first three clients were old employees and, much like today, they signed up to the values that are important in our current working practices.
How many staff?
We are growing, but right now there are six of us – two partners, a finance and admin manager, senior design engineer, product designer and a super design intern.
What is your turnover?
More than last year, more than the year before and will be more next year. More importantly for us is steady profitable growth. In our opinion turnover is a fanciful number that carries no business merit. Busy fools making zero profit is not where Jones & Partners want to be.
How much has the business changed since you started?
The change is constant as we must be agile in our thinking and flexible in our approach to resolving challenges from our clients, from market trends, technology developments and society in general. We are now in a position where we have worked for four of the top six global contract furniture manufacturers and have vast experience in many sectors of manufacturing. Our exploration into material research and manufacturing processes has been the catalyst to our success in winning business with these global businesses.
How much more have you yet to achieve as a business?
I think we’ve really only just started. Improvements in processes have helped greatly over recent years. Refinements with the team and the way we work lead to better design solutions, solving trickier problems, creating the correct products and helping our clients along the way. Because our ethos is to be inquisitive there will always be somewhere to go as a business and there will always be new targets to achieve.
If the Government could change one thing what would it be?
Copyright and IP protection would be one topic. The main problem for successful designers and design practices is they generate too many ideas and are far too trusting of their audience. The cost for credible design protection is too high for small studios so we rely on honesty or just leave it in our ideas bin. The size of the problem is highlighted by the case of Lego and their disputes with Lepin. If Lego can’t protect their IP then what chance have we got?
What is your biggest challenge as a business?
Convincing clients of the great value of experienced design. We are privileged to have retained many clients over the years. The free pitch approach to business is no longer an option for us as the risks do not usually pay dividends. Our USP is that we’re able to carry out the complete design process with 100% confidence in our ability. We are not a ‘sketch and run’ design practice. At recent exhibitions we’ve seen manufacturers rub their hands with joy as designers flock to them with conceptual ideas. This devaluing of the design process often ends with manufacturers incurring hidden costs through poorly resolved products and the designer taking a wrap on the knuckles for bad design. It’s not bad design, it’s bad process management – and the sooner this changes, the better.