Smart Design Reviews

Updated Dec 29, 2019

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3.7
72%
Recommend to a Friend
88%
Approve of CEO
Smart Design CEO Davin Stowell (no image)
Davin Stowell
24 Ratings
  1. Helpful (2)

    "Amazing place for the right people"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Director in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Smart Design full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Really impressive roster of clients (household brand names) Amazing people that want to solve problems for users A lot of growth opportunity at the junior levels - it's a small company, so staff/seniors will be asked to design, stretch, present to clients, and have more responsibility than you might elsewhere Tries to stay employee-focused with good benefits for the size company, helps with work/life balance after a really demanding project (you can take time off afterwards), free coffee/tea/snacks/bagels, makes good hires so continues the trend of very little ego

    Cons

    a lot of responsibility at all levels, and a smaller company, means you may not always have a ton of training before you're asked to do something. this can be great learning, but not for everyone.

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  2. "good place to learn"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Industrial Designer in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Smart Design full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    culture, space, shop, working with founder, get to bring some products to market. good place to learn earlier in your career and still good on a resume- so good overall experience

    Cons

    not as much goes to market. doing more packaging. harder to advance above senior- gets political then. it's consulting and some CDs micromanage. Need to get on the right projects like any agency

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  3. "Good - if you want to deal with consulting"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Designer in New York, NY
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Smart Design full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Cool space, free bagels, snacks, good coffee, dogs, good people and interns. It’s consulting- sometimes you get a great project, client and reasonable budget, sometimes you love the people on your team. You don’t get all 3 things every project. Usually it’s 2 out of 3, sometimes just 1. If you get a good project/ client/team you have a better experience than the person across from you. That’s not really politics - it’s client work. Most people leave go to startups or huge in house design teams- not consultants

    Cons

    the project determines how much you work- if high maintenance project you work more hours. In between projects its easy 10-5pm. Smart has gotten smaller and shares financial info. Sucks when you hear things are slow, but not unusual for consulting to have busy and slow periods The space can get hot in the summer

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  4. "Great place to learn to be a good designer"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Industrial Designer in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Smart Design full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Team, Design culture and Happy hour

    Cons

    Salary, Work and LIfe balance

  5. "Leadership resistant to change"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Industrial Designer 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Smart Design full-time

    Pros

    Many creatively talented employees. A handful of genuinely good people. Extensive product development resources.

    Cons

    If you want a glimpse into smart design’s leadership, look at one of the most recent glassdoor reviews from Oct 2nd. When they receive complaints from staff, which are many and varied, they dismiss them with “that’s just how consulting works, not our fault.” That response is lazy and untrue. Smart Design is not transparent about finances or policies. It is very political. It is not diverse. Leadership has not undergone sensitivity training and it shows. Project directors routinely micromanage their teams into the ground, resulting in high staff turnover. There is no meaningful effort from leadership to improve culture, only PR damage control.

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  6. "Leader in the world of Human-centered design"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate Director in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Smart Design full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Smart design is an excellent place to learn human-centered design approaches and contribute to major projects for large fortune 500 companies. It's fast paced and challenging as you transition between different projects. Smart is a small company so it's up to you to decide the impact you want to have. The culture is very collaborative and friendly. Smart's office is large, open, and full of energy. Overall I had a very positive experience there and learned a lot from leadership and the team around me.

    Cons

    Generally, consulting is a challenging business and you don't always get the type of projects you want, nor do you always get to own a project for the amount of time you would like. This isn't a con for Smart design as much as it is for this type of business in general. There are exceptions and Smart is one of the few agencies where you can work on projects from concept through production.

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  7. "Fun place to work & learn"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Industrial Designer in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Smart Design full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Smart Design is one of the best places to learn design process and hard skills. It's super fun and everyone is extremely committed and diligent. People are definitely biased toward action and always taking steps to make Smart and it's work better.

    Cons

    Smart has some of the typical downsides of consulting -- inconsistent business, tight timelines, not enough time to focus on design. That being said, I know ID leaders are working to change this.

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Disappointing."

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Designer 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Smart Design full-time

    Pros

    – Still somewhat a good opportunity for young industrial designers. – Still somewhat a good name to have on your resume. – Good opportunity to learn from past knowledge. – Dogs are allowed. – Good coffee.

    Cons

    – Poor leadership, incapable of growing the business, keep projects on budget or encourage teams to be successful. – There is an elitist mentality that can be toxic. It felt like a very cut-throat environment for no good reason. – I witnessed management talking very negatively about other employees, many times in an unprofessional way. – Decisions were made based on personal biases. – Bullying behavior is acceptable.

  9. Helpful (2)

    "Poorly run company on the brink of bankruptcy"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Smart Design full-time

    Pros

    Talented junior and senior level staff Cool office space

    Cons

    Outdated leadership that doesn't know how to run a business Boring and time-consuming projects that lead to no work-life balance Low salary Little room for growth

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  10. Helpful (5)

    "Living in the past and highly political"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Designer in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Smart Design full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    + Great people at lower to mid levels of the company + Occasional fun events thrown for staff + Projects can be enjoyable and challenging with the right team members

    Cons

    - I felt it was a very political climate - It is my opinion that senior leadership have no idea how to grow the company or what the company is trying to be - Heavy emphasis on the company "culture" despite this being, in my opinion, extremely poor, political and in definite need of an overhaul - Senior project leads/managers seemed unable to keep to project budgets and I felt that they were consistently looking for scapegoats in younger or less-senior staff to protect themselves - I felt that some staff were very cunning and it appeared to me that some very unprofessional tactics were used to oust team members that refused to simply be "yes men" - I noticed that senior staff do not like to be questioned or have their ideas challenged - Company is still riding off of the success of one design from around 20 years ago and I don't feel they have really produced anything as noteworthy since then - It seemed to me that the company was unable to win bids with reputable clients - and I felt the level of client has been dropping over the past few years

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Found 39 reviews