Other news you will love
About agile methodologies 🔄
Explore the agile methodology to see if it fits you and your team's strategies
The shift to a decarbonised transportation sector
Understanding the shift towards Transport Decarbonization
Initially, industrial design was a process of design used to mass manufacture physical products. A sort of creative art that was constrained by the demands of mass production. See, creating a masterpiece as a singular item is already difficult, mass producing it and giving the same level of attention you gave the first piece to the other thousands and even more, is an impossible feat.
Most of the creation in industrial design is repetitive, made by machines, the cuts are straight, the shapes simple and the materials are often aluminum, titanium, and steel. Elements that could also be used in heavy industries.
All manufactured products are the result of certain choices and design processes which can vary. This process involves both artists, and engineers and is influenced by all sectors, from business decisions to user considerations and aesthetics.
Nowadays, the term industrial design refers more to a specific business and aesthetic decision rather than a physical constraint born out of production requirements.
Industrial designers often come from an industrial design national university, a mix of technical skills, design skills that come from mechanical engineering, and a creative course from a design institute or various universities. The requirements are at minimum to know the most famous design strategy concepts and How/When to apply them.
Midway in between design thinking, spatial design, and design fundamentals, they apply creative thinking to imagine designs and processes to create a product that has a particular set of features and a specific look. Projects vary in range, sometimes learning more about engineering techniques, features, and the design process, and sometimes more on the creative development of the item.
Depending on the specific field they work in, industrial designers can come from a large variety of domains, from building architecture to entirely creative degrees, individuals can acquire the necessary knowledge through scholarships and internships. The space is quite welcoming as it revolves around diverse skills.
Industrial Design is at an odd place, in between the engineering process and the creative space, often, designers will not have developed functional expertise in both areas. Engineer graduates are still favored over creative students as creativity can be learned more easily than the engineering part.
Rest assured, armed with the English language and a passionate mindset, you'll have your shot.
As previously mentioned, the space has evolved from its initial state. As manufacturing is booming, new challenges appear. One central aspect is to try and build a sustainable future. How can designers adapt their processes, tools, and methods to make sure they can keep building in 10, 20, 50, or 100 years?
Every field faces this question but designers and industrial designers particularly. Building and producing products puts them at the forefront of the problem, and aligning the field with our future means reinventing the different processes and materials we use.
More importantly, one question can appear difficult to answer, can we keep the same aesthetic or can we sacrifice it to ensure our designs respect the environment?
After all, it might just be that our guidelines for industrial designs simply lead to too much waste. While these issues aren't settled, they force some change onto the industry.
Another central theme of development for the space is design thinking applied to interaction design. In short, it's a user's possibility to interact with a design. This is made possible by the development of technology and exists mostly in the virtual space.
Industrial designer jobs aren't frowned upon, a simple search on indeed leads to more than 300 job offers regarding industrial designers in Australia. Most of these directly refer to industrial design jobs and the rest (about 10%) refer to Architecture jobs or more global product design jobs.
This result shows two things, first that the need for designers is very present, and second that the engineering and processes part of the job is fundamental. What companies are searching for is first and foremost someone who can guide them to create their product. Most of the creative part is already done.
This means that the industrial designer now has to create the underlying processes and change the design to ensure it fits certain constraints such as costs, features, and production.
As one of the most famous designers today, Philippe Starck has designed products in almost all industries from bicycle components to a lemon squeezer (which is sitting at the Museum Of Modern Art). Starting out as an architect, his creativity and natural talent made him slowly transition to product design.
"My juicer is not meant to squeeze lemons, it is meant to start conversations."
The incredible genius behind this man is his ability to make the features of a product hide behind its design, sometimes to an extreme as the previous squeezer. The artistic process completely pushes the other subjects to the side.
In this sense, industrial design and design, in general, should attempt to grab all the attention of the user.
Philippe Starck himself set out to find the fundamental features of a product to reinvent all the rest, this left him space for creativity and led him to create some of the most memorable designs.
Design has evolved immensely throughout the past few decades. The main hurdle was the various iterations a product designer would have to go through before being manufactured for a larger public.
Computers have come to the rescue in multiple ways, the more central being CAD or Computer Aided Design. This type of software allows a product designer to create 3D visuals of their products. The software allows for very high levels of design, allowing the designer to choose the materials, all the requirements, the length of different bits, the curves, the edges, how it moves, and pretty much all you could think about when designing a product.
The first aspect of this tool is to visualize your product and very easily share what you had in mind with the rest of the team.
As a prototype is made, a CAD tool can help you test your prototype, what happens if I apply a force here, will it break? What happens if I change the material? How much does it weigh? All these and much much more can be answered directly through CAD software.
In the past, you couldn't reuse bits and pieces of the prototype to create the next iterations. On a CAD feature, you directly make your changes on your prototype or start from zero if you prefer. This saves precious time and resources in the process. Iterations can be pushed faster as a result.
Finally, the most important part of the software is that you can directly create machine-readable commands to create your product from the CAD software. Your file can then be imported onto a machine to create your product for real.
The introduction of CAD software and its features is the single most important development of the industry. Keep in mind, back in the day, they made 1:1 models of their products, first 2D maps to outline the details and then a 3D replica to test it out and make sure it passed all the requirements.
Industrial design stems from mechanical engineering and creative thinking, it takes into account multiple fields and concerns to develop a product and the right processes. The field promises a bright future for young graduates as the development needs in Australia and the rest of the world keep growing.