Industrial design definition
Design being one of the oldest professions simply reflected how craftsmen building objects. Before the industrial revolution, most of the products were handmade. Industrial design is specifically counted as a result of the Industrial Revolution, which followed the ideology that one craftsman can not be responsible for the conception, development and sale of an object as Industrial Revolution led to the creation of mass production, allowing several people to produce large volumes of identical objects such as cars, electronic or clothing.
In retrospect, none of this could have existed if people were not able to optimise and streamline the process of mass production — leading to the Industrial Revolution. One must look at these craftsmen as artists, who found a way to mass-produce objects economically while making these said objects aesthetically pleasing for the consumers. At the time, industrial designers were typically categorised as the ones who had new and experimental ideas about the industry.
Now there are two different definitions of industrial design that I came across online:
As per the Industrial Design Society of America, industrial design is the professional practice of designing products, devices, objects and services used by millions of people around the world every day.
World Design Organisation defines Industrial design as a strategic problem-solving process that drives innovation, builds business success, and leads to a better quality of life through innovative products, systems, services, and experiences.
From what I’ve understood, industrial design is quite similar to product design with a slight difference that industrial design is more concerned with things that require industrialisation to produce, such as electronics, consumer food, vehicles, etc.
Industrial Design focuses on four things:
- The appearance of the product – improvement of its aesthetics.
- The functionality of the product.
- The workability of the product.
- Creating everlasting value for the end-user.
History of industrial design (-) timeline
When looking for a bigger picture of the evolution of industrial design, I was unable to create one. The facts are too scattered and some of them were quite conflicting. However, I am compiling the information I had collected online, creating a coherent timeline:
The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain, introducing special machinery in factories for mass production.
America’s advancements in industrial mass production and functionalism reached Europe through the Great Exhibition. In 1853, The Practical Draughtsman’s Book of Industrial Design was printed. At the time it was one of the few books that could offer a complete course of architectural, engineering, and mechanical drawing. Hence, the subhead!
The early 1900s
Concepts of standardisation, functionality and efficiency started gaining popularity.
The German Association of Craftsmen (Deutscher Werkbund) was established which focused on the integration of traditional craftsmanship with industrial mass-produced techniques, which led to the establishment of Bauhaus, which endeavoured to consolidate an individual’s artistic vision and the concept of mss production together. After the First World War, America had its own Industrial Revolution, experiencing fast technological growth and development. Joseph Claude Sinel, a designer from New Zealand used the term industrial design for the first time in 1919, although the term was supposedly coined after the Second World War by industrial designers in the US because, initially, the industrialists noticed this opportunity. Walter Dorwin Teague established an office dedicated to industrial design in 1926. By the 1930s, industrial designers started mass-producing several goods.
The Great Depression forced industrial designers to come up with cost-effective and efficient production methods. In 1934, Robert Lepper assisted in establishing the first industrial design degree programs at Carnegie Institute of Technology in the US. In 1935, Herbert Read’s Art and Industry: The Principles of Industrial Design was published where he mentioned that a factory should conform to the personality of an artist but not vice versa, which is considered the first principle of industrial design.
Technological advancements and modernisation were explored through design techniques. In 1951, Japan’s Konosuke Matsushita set up the first in-house product design section at Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. after visiting the US.
Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) was formed when the American Society of Industrial Design (ASID), Industrial Designers Institute (IDI) and Industrial Design Education Association (IDEA) merged.
Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI) was founded by The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Shortly after, the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) rose to prominence as a sub-discipline of computer science. The advancement of computers and the emergence of the Internet pushed Industrial Design as a profession forward.
Industrial design has become the leading force behind many organisations today. Many organisations have started to include designers at their executive levels.
Industrial design facts
To be honest, I have never been a history buff! So coming out of that long lesson on the evolution of industrial design reminded me of a heavy history lesson. So, allow me to share a few fun facts about industrial design:
- Christopher Dresser is considered the first industrial designer. (Designdex.org)
- Raymond Loewy, Walter Dorwin Teague, Norman Bel Geddes, Donald Deskey and Henry Dreyfuss are considered the founders of Industrial Design in the US. (Britannica.com)
- Leading companies with the most international industrial design applications in 2019 include Samsung, LG, Volkswagen, Phillips and Gillette. (Statista.com)
- The average salary for an Industrial Designer in India is ₹600,028 (Payscale.com)
Types of industrial design
Let me be clear, there are no types of industrial design. Specialisation, however, is another story. There are many specialisations of industrial design, namely:
- Automobile design
- Toy design
- Consumer electronics design
- Furniture design
- Footwear design
- Medical equipment design
- Airline interior design
- Transportation design
- Tool design
- Automobile interior design
- Sports equipment design
- Safety clothing and equipment design
- Lighting design
- Heavy equipment design
These are just a few I could find online. I choose to believe the list even longer than anticipated, however, since I could not find any evidence to the contrary. In a similar light, I tried searching for industrial design methods, but I could not find anything concrete. I think each specialisation of industrial design will have its method, and that makes things a bit industry-specific.
Industrial design is an established design process that has existed for a century. It is efficient to create an adequate product lifespan that allows an organisation to create effective products for the end-user. In the end, I would like to mention that Industrial design is about taking solutions through the manufacturing process and to the end-user. The concept of industrial design is dynamic and everchanging. As a community, we should explore the potential of industrial design.