First time working (trying to work) with a designer

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by chesapeake40, Jun 6, 2008.

  1. chesapeake40
    Joined: Jun 2008
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    Location: Annapolis

    chesapeake40 New Member

    I could really use the advice of this forum.

    The short version is: I can't get a couple of designers to respond to my follow up request in a timely fashion. I'm not trying to trash anyone, just to get advice on what to expect.

    To put it in perspective, the two designers in question are certainly pros that should know better, but not so famous that they're sailing celebs.

    This is my first time trying to work with a designer. Is this lack of response just a reality of working with people in this profession (like the no-show contractor, or the flaky musician...pardon the stereotypes)?

    I understand that these designers probably get a lot of email from dreamers, so as a sign of my level of commitment, I offered to pay a pretty generous consultation fee (which was readily accepted). To confirm my commitment again, I followed this up with an ordering of some materials (again, money accepted).

    I don't believe I've been a pest (I contacted one designer twice, paying him money on both occasions), and I don't think my questions are complex (a few questions concerning the suitability of a stock design to a very particular, and very common sailing need).

    I'm now getting nervous about investing thousands of dollars on the services of someone who is lacking the courtesy to acknowledge my correspondence. Are designers just kind of a hassle to work with (overworked, a little flaky, or something else) or is my experience an anomoly? I've never worked so hard to give my money away.

    Perhaps I'm expecting too much?
  2. Nordic Cat
    Joined: Jan 2008
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    Location: South of Copenhagen, Denmark

    Nordic Cat Senior Member

    I had pretty much the same experience, with a couple of designers in Europe, I have now been working for more than 6 months with Anton du Toit in South Africa, who has been very responsive, and a true gentleman to work with.
    He is very knowledgeable, but doesn't come across as "Mr.know-it-all" but prefers to research a specific if he isn't 100% sure.

    I can warmly reccomend him.

    web site:

    His e-mail is: Anton du Toit []


  3. CTMD
    Joined: Dec 2007
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    Location: Melbourne, Aus

    CTMD Naval Architect

    Find another designer. If you've given them money you're a customer and deserve attention. If they are too busy to answer your question straight away they should be able to find time to explain that they are busy but will get back to you as soon as possible.
  4. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    I have had that problem with a designer - hefty deposit, not much work shown, limited response to questions. I ditched him.

    Trying a second designer. So far so good, but I have gotten a good quote, and am not in a hurry.

    At least with this guy he 'gets' my ideas, and knows what I am talking about. That was the hardest part previously. I am willing to allow a bit of slack in the service area for someone who is 'in sync'

    The trouble is - good designers are always up to their ears in work. Its a bit like finding a good surgeon! And I wont tell you who mine is till he finishes my job :)
  5. Alik
    Joined: Jul 2003
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    Location: Thailand

    Alik Senior Member

    We can also tell a lot of stories about customers :)

    1. Some of them read a lot of 'design articles' from books or internet and want to get designer's comment on everything they have read.
    2. Some of them would increase boat length from 55 to 60' during the design process and expect no extra design fee/time.
    3. Some of them expect to build 50' high-tech racing cat in 200k USD.
    4. Some of them argue for two months about proper position of bilge pump seacock - should it be above or below WL?
    5. Some of them would ask to lift up the chine in the bow for another 10mm - 'for better appearance';
    6. Some of them would require engine exhaust through the toilet!
    7. Some of them believe that 5kW genset can run air-conditioning system on 60-footer;

    I think colleagues could add a lot more...

    Do not expect educational seminars form designer - he is not supposed to do that. Designer is a professional who is doing the job on customer’s request, but customer should rely on his experience in details.
  6. Bullshipper
    Joined: May 2008
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    Location: Mexico

    Bullshipper Bullshipper

    There are always unreasonable people, but this fellow has a legitimate beef in my opinion, and seems reasonable. Your customer rant seems out of place in this instance IMO.

    I would voice my complaints and ask for my money back unless the designer comes up with a positive written response on how he will satisfy your requests in the agreed apon time.
  7. Grant Nelson
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    Location: Netherlands

    Grant Nelson Senior Member

    probably his designer is too busy posting topics and replies at
    1 person likes this.
  8. ratrace2
    Joined: Dec 2007
    Posts: 543
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    Location: NJ USA

    ratrace2 Senior Member

    Call Par, Riccelli Yacht Design.

    Buddy,chesapeake40, friend:
    Do yourself a favor and contact Par, aka, Riccelli Yacht Design.
    I'm not going to say anything about designers or their tempermet. They are, I'm sure pro's in their own right at what they do. For me, all I know it that, everytime I have had a question about a design Par (Paul Riccelli) has sent me an e-mail on the scale of a ".Phd" discertation as an aswer. I mean I pay this guy just for his e-mails they are so good. He has several designs in production right now and he, I'm sure, will be willing to help you through the process of working with a designer or becoming your designer De jur. Par, is a regular contributor to and can be found with a simple search on this of luck.......ratrace2
  9. Guest625101138

    Guest625101138 Previous Member

    Your expectations are reasonable. Likewise I can relate to the problem with clients.

    There is no better way to start a relationship than meeting face-to-face. I place priority on meeting the individual so some rapport can develop. So if you can locate someone nearby who has the skills required then this is a good way to start. It may mean a drive or flight but this will be small cost if it is a decent job of work.

    One thing I have learnt through a long engineering career is that no observation or idea is without some merit. So if you find a professional who quickly dismisses your ideas as naive or whatever then they are not the person you should be dealing with.

    Rick W.

  10. chesapeake40
    Joined: Jun 2008
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    Location: Annapolis

    chesapeake40 New Member

    Thanks to all/update

    I appreciate all of the comments, and I will be checking out some of the links/info provided.

    To be fair, I have since heard back from one of the designers.

    As I really like this person's designs and approach, I'll give it another go before finding someone else.

    I think I will offer the friendly advice that I truly understand it may take some time to get to an answer to my questions, but I'd really appreciate a quick email to this effect. If this doesn't help the relationship, I think I'll need to read the writing on the walls and move on.

    Thanks again.
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