Our Design Philosophy
We recognize that it is your idea
It is your idea, your product, your patents, and your awards. We provide critical guidance and creative energy, we sweat the details, and we drive your project forward every way we can. We get our motivation from your sucess.
Effective communication is critical
That's why our process is centred on close collaboration with you and your team. That's also why we invest in the best tools to collaborate remotely with you on design concepts and engineering details.
The latest tools save time and money
We invest in the most sophisticated tools for design, product visualization, engineering analysis, and prototyping.
Many talented people must work closely together
Our multi-functional design and engineering team works closely together with you to find solutions that work. Our manufacturing team guides our design choices.
The right process yields better design, reducing risk
Our Lean Product Design Process has been refined over many projects. It is based on rapid iterations that produce concrete ideas and tangible prototypes that can be viewed, assessed, tested, and refined.
We take great pride in your success
By sharing our skills, talent and network of partners, we commit to the success of your product. Together we work towards achieving the common goal of a world class manufacturable product.
Kevin Bailey founded Design 1st over 25 years ago, after more than a decade as a senior product designer with Nortel Networks. Design 1st has grown to become one of Canada's largest, most prolific hardware product design specialists. We are available to companies that choose to outsource their hardware development and need help with manufacturing set up.
Our philosophy is that designing simple and compelling products requires human factors, product design and engineering expertise. We excel at developing the most technically challenging products for indoor retail, commercial and extreme outdoor environments. We have deep expertise in design thinking, aesthetics and ergonomics as well as tools to tackle tricky thermal, stress, motion, safety, and materials problems.
Based in Ottawa, Canada, we create and develop hardware products for a wide range of clients, mostly in North America. Our reach is growing and we now serve clients in Mexico, China, South America, Africa, Mongolia, Australia and Europe. The products that we have helped create are used by millions of people around the world.
A passionate product designer and business executive, Kevin Bailey helps guide CEO’s, start-ups and established companies through the maze of hardware product development. Spending over 35 years in the detailed designing of hardware products, Kevin is now an expert at assessing risk and opportunity when making the hundreds of decisions required to move from a vision to a physical product that customers find useful and businesses can manufacture.
Since the early 1980’s Kevin has been on the ground floor of global hardware product innovation, cutting his teeth with National Research Council, General Motors, Shell, Bell Northern Research Labs and Nortel Networks where he worked on the first global smartphone development in 1994. After founding Design 1st in 1996, Kevin has emerged as one of the leaders at stickhandling hardware product development from concept to design including mechanical engineering and go-to-market manufacturing set-up.
As CEO and president of Design 1st, clients and staff rely on Kevin’s strategic thinking to guide the full suite of development and manufacturing oriented product decisions. The company’s results with new product development speaks for itself. More than 1,000 start-ups and global enterprise corporations—such as Motorola, Acer, Stanley Tools, Ericsson and Christie Digital—have brought hardware product ideas to life under Kevin’s guidance. Kevin and his team of thirty creative experts bring up to 70 projects to market for a diversity of clients each year.
Kevin is a Mechanical Engineer graduating top of class in 1984 from the University of Waterloo and has been a registered member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario since 1985. Kevin is also a VC and Angel Investor and one of Canada’s leading experts at bringing innovative new hardware product designs to market.
Design & Engineering
Electronics & Embedded Software
Business Strategy & Project Support
Life at Design1st
In addition to regular fundraising and support for local charities including the United Way, Citizen's Advocacy and the Royal Ottawa Foundation, we believe we can make a big social impact by mentoring and inspiring the next generation of makers. That’s why we take a lead role in organizing and sponsoring events like Ottawa’s Internet of Things Conference (IoT613) and Maker Faire Ottawa.
We also created the D1 MakerLab program, providing opportunities for students to explore exciting projects and new technologies in our prototype lab facilities over the summer months.