Since its inception in 1989, SmartShape Design has evolved from a one-man industrial design firm into an international organization. During that evolution, they opened up two offices in Cleveland, Ohio, as well as an office in Shenzhen, China, have grown to 20+ employees and produced a scope of work that has increased in both volume and vertical focus over time.
“Over the past decade we’ve expanded into a full-service consultancy that now offers in-house research facilities and full mechanical engineering capabilities along with our core expertise in industrial design. Additionally, SmartShape’s office in China operates as a contract manufacturer for projects of all shapes and sizes,” said Rachel Miller, SmartShape Design Marketing Coordinator.
With their firm now employing business strategists, program managers, engineers with advanced degrees, and experts in tooling and manufacturing, the company is now, more than ever, a one-stop shop for many prospective product producers. “We are a turn-key operation that allows companies to work with us to flesh out their product ideas from start to finish. We can serve clients who need it all, or for others who only need a portion, we’re able to provide services specific to the needs of any product development lifecycle stage.”
As an industry, industrial design has been heavily affected by technological advancement. Considering that SmartShape has been in the business for close to 27 years, they’ve seen the brunt of it. “Shifts in technology have been one of the biggest changes [in this industry] – seeing technology evolve and making moves internally to adapt and meet the shift has been a fun challenge that we’ve been more than excited to meet head on, always moving to meet new needs.” Rachel told us, “Traditionally, our staff put pen to paper, but it’s all digital now. It will be interesting to see how the industry evolves even more to meet new and emerging design needs, modeling for advanced UX, wearable technology, and the age of the Internet of Things (IoT).”
Given the company’s willingness to adopt early, it should come as no surprise that SmartShape Design was so quick to find value in .design. “One of my colleagues came across a blog or a news story about .design becoming available and we hopped on it right away. We saw that .design was available and within two weeks we were smartshape.design.”
This wasn’t just a domain change, the SmartShape team also opted for smartshape.design email addresses, a company-wide pivot. Why were they prepared to make such a big change? “It is a shorter web address that says what we do and who we are, and conveniently and simply displays as our brand name. It made a lot of sense for us to take that leap,” said Rachel.
SmartShape moved from smartshapedesign.com to smartshape.design to make its domain shorter, more memorable and more “brandable.” These days, all of those qualities are in short supply in the .com namespace. On top of that, company names are almost always taken, illustrated by the fact that smartshape.com is a site for weight loss tools and training.
SmartShape was at the forefront of the .design movement. They got their domain only weeks after it launched on May 12th, 2015. Since then .design has added about 50,000 more registrations and is being used by companies such as Facebook, Medium and Airbnb. Rachel understood the potential from the beginning for a company in SmartShape’s industry, noting, “In the future, when you’re looking for design, the .design extension instead of a .com extension could become the natural place to look on the web.”