Our Design Philosophy

After 25 years, we have learned a few lessons about new product design. They guide how we engage with you. We never lose sight of our supporting role.

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.

Video: A look inside Design 1st.

Our History

In our 20 years we have successfully completed over 750 projects for companies around the world

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.

Learn More

Senior Team

Kevin Bailey
Founder & President
A passionate product designer and business executive, Kevin Bailey helps guide CEO’s, startups and established companies through the maze of hardware product development.
Favourite projects
Game Changing Market Leaders
Ian   Kayser
VP Operations
Ian is on the frontline at Design 1st helping clients transcribe physical ideas into actionable requirements and a set of deliverables the team can sink their talents into.
Favourite project
The Next One
James Henderson
VP Design
James’ critical role is to connect a client’s vision of the users with a clear product design direction that guides the engineering teams working on the project.
Favourite project
Quirk Logic
Matthew Bailey
VP Mechanical Engineering
Matthew’s leadership and technical expertise touches every project as manufacturing direction and technical feasibility of new products are determined.
Favourite project
Peter Cottreau
VP Electronics Engineering
Peter helps helps CEO’s, Startups and established companies choose the best path forward when developing a physical product with custom electronics and embedded software.
Favourite project
IoT Devices with Displays
Dave Ingram
VP Manufacturing
Dave's deep manufacturing experience helps clients punch above their weight and negotiate favorable agreements with suppliers and manufacturers.
Favourite project
Joan Highet
VP Marketing Services
Joan is an operation ninja who uses her frontline executive experience to guide clients through to market.
Favourite project
Allan Kerr
VP Analytics
Allan's deep knowledge of the web helps companies understand the market forces impacting their business through conscise analysis of online research.
Favourite project
Dave Mills
VP Regulatory Support
Dave's rich experience navigating project management and regulatory hurdles helps clients streamline their path to market.
Favourite project
Arc Devices

Design & Engineering

Electronics & Embedded Software

Manufacturing Support

Business Strategy & Project Support

Life at Design1st


We have a broad view of our responsibility to give back.

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.

Community Sponsorship
We support a variety of community organizations throughout the year, these include United Way's Spark program that empowers female leaders in the community and Humane Canada, an animal welfare organization, plus many more. .
Design 1st participates in a varierty of educational projects throughout the year including Random Hacks of Kindness, Code My Robot and FIRST Robotics.
Design 1st supports Team Lucky, a fan favorite Battlebot contender that competes in the UFC style robot competition broadcast on ABC's Discovery Channel.
Design 1st helps entrepreneurs and inventors bring their physical product ideas to reality. The result? Dozens of successful new ventures and multiple client appearances on the Dragons' Den.

Development Partners

Our in-house team comminicates with and work in collaboration with our contract development partners in manufacturing, Electronics etc

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