CMF Design: What is It?

CMF Designers Accentuate the Form

CMF Design on products

By CMG Member, Narss Lapinid, Director of Communications, Data Driven Safety, CMF Design Consultant, and Chair of CMG’s CMF Workshop Committee

CMF Design: What is It?

CMF Design, or Color Material Finish Design, is an emerging design discipline within design. Those who are in CMF Design are known as CMF Designers, and you’ll find them in organizations with an industrial design department, such as in consumer goods and electronics, fashion, transportation, and others. The transportation industry have what are known as “Color & Trim Designers.

CMF Designers work in concert with industrial designers by accentuating already well designed products’ color, material, and finish. Blessed with a keen eye for up and coming trends as well as creating them, their responsibilities will also include the production of trend and material boards, presentations, color matching via the human eye as well as using measurement devices like spectrophotometers and gloss readers. CMF Designers typically have formal education in industrial or graphic design, but it’s not uncommon to meet someone whom hails from fashion or art. This is a career path for someone who has an open mind and sees possibilities. They understand the saying, “Nothing is impossible, only mathematically improbable.”

If you don’t make things happen then things will happen to you.” ~ Robert Collier

CMF Designers are a rare commodity. Even rarer are those who have business acumen. Why? Because they understand color is but one piece of a large puzzle, or if you prefer a visual, envision one of the circles in a Venn diagram that was drawn using a Spirograph. Think of each circle as a separate function within a corporation. There’s manufacturing, engineering, QA/QC, purchasing, legal, supply chain, color, material, finish, and so on. Crazy, right?!

Example of holistic CMF Design

Source: Narss Lapind, Data Driven Safety

Why would any designer choose to understand functions outside of Design? The answer is quite simple: Doing so can help sell your design.

When we make the conscious effort to learn we now have the ability to “sell” our ideas based on tangibles that, in some ways, we can control. Have you ever heard of Total Cost of Ownership, AD/CVD, Long Term Agreement/Contract,  supplier development? It’s completely fine if you haven’t, but I do recommend you do and understand how they influence your client’s business decision making process.

What does  the future look like for CMF Design?

Look into my crystal ball! Compared to other design functions, CMF Design is a small community that will continue to grow. Thankfully, Color Marketing Group sees the potential and embraced it wholeheartedly, first by revising one of the Color Applications Workshops held during the annual International Summit to cater to CMF Designers.  The CMF Workshop – being held on Friday November 9th-  is exclusive to CMF Designers.  CMG also gave the blessing and funding for CMF samples to be distributed to those who attended the last Summit held in Portland. This is the only organization and event where five sponsors, some of them competitors, collaborated and provided samples pro bono!

In closing I’d like to thank CMG Members and Sponsors Ampacet, AmTrim, Badger Color Concentrates, Clariant, EMD Performance Materials, and SanDream Impact for volunteering their resources for the samples.

Interested in finding out more about CMG or our CMF Workshops?  Visit our website or contact the office.

Color Materials Finishes CMF workshop


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