From CAD to Ad

Product Design & Development delivers value to the corporation when we create products that delight our guests, and that they can’t find anywhere else. Unfortunately, the table frames that you saw in stores earlier this month were not unique in any way. They were old, tired, and frankly, weren’t delighting anyone. Furthermore, our guest had no reason to buy these at Target, because they could have gotten frames like these anywhere. As of this week, this has all changed! We just set close to 100% new table frames in the Room Essentials brand. Our new items are unique, exclusive to Target (’cause we designed them), deliver great style, great quality, and all at a tiny price point.

Now, with these items on the shelf, I want to show you some of the behind-the-scenes design process. Most interestingly, here is a complete set of 3D models I made when we were at the early stages of design.


I made these models almost a year ago when we were concepting new designs. This was a classic design exercise at Target – my design partner helped set the aesthetic while I defined the materials, detailed dimensions and created prototypes on our 3D printers. Over the course of the next three weeks, we played with the prototypes, collected feedback, revised the design and then sent it out for production.

Along the way, we had to overcome a few different challenges. I won’t describe them all, but to give you a look at the process, let’s follow how material for these designs evolved. First, the one on the bottom right was originally going to be aluminum. I had big plans for anodizing or applying a chemical film to register our seasonal colors. That was great, except that aluminum was tremendously expensive, and our manufacturers couldn’t efficiently execute that shape in aluminum. So, we looked to the oft-used polyvinylchloride; however, if you’ve ever seen a regular PVC frame, it looks cheap and disposable. They’re always glossy and they scratch easily. To solve this, I worked closely with our manufacturer to develop a brand new technique of finishing a PVC frame with a hard, matte surface – a technique that our manufacturer had never attempted previously.

Here we have an example of true end-to-end design where we went all the way from CAD (computer aided design) to Ad. We started with rough models, prototyped them, overcame a few production challenges and eventually set great product in the store. I know my last post (Full Circle) featured the weekly circular as well, but this highlights a very neat aspect of working in product design and development (PD&D) at Target.

Interested in a career with Target? Learn more about opportunities in engineering or product design and development

  • Mike Vukich

    March 22nd, 2013

    I am an experienced and skilled designer looking for an opportunity but the Target application process is impossible. I am not allowed to delete my old resumes and update with new data and the double login process is ridiculous. I always get locked out due to trying the initial login as the second login. I am just looking for an opportunity, I am educated, creative, experienced and dependable. Please look me up.

  • elisa


    March 22nd, 2013

    Hi —

    We sincerely apologize that you are experiencing issues with the application process. We encourage you to email with further details of the process so we can assist you.

    Thank you,
    Elisa & the Target Careers team

  • Eric Braun

    March 23rd, 2013

    I would recommend trying Internet Explorer. Unfortunately the Taleo application system, used by many large companies, has some issues with other browsers.

  • David Tang

    April 26th, 2013

    good to know about Teleo and ya just so happens I’ve got 2 diplomas in CAD, Architectural and Engineering CAD Specialization in Process Piping, so thanks