What is Industrial Design and why should you care? Take almost any product you touch in your daily life and I trust it has passed through the hands of at least one Industrial Designer from concept to shelf delivery. Who are we? Where did we come from? Who makes the things you use without thought? Your toothbrush? The shopping cart you push to get groceries? The packing to your favorite gourmet coffee? I feel it is high time the question of, “What is Industrial Design? Do you make factory equipment?” should be a thing of the past. For being the most heavily product-dependent generation to date, the human race should be more aware of where their products come from-and who creates them. We are Industrial Designers.
At the turn of the Industrial Revolution, products such as appliances and household goods were created almost solely by engineers. Commercial artists were brought in to create more elegant forms to the otherwise utilitarian, engineered creations. Concepts were hand-sketched and rendered to points of near-perfection with high, technical detail. After the great depression of 1929, Industrial Designers had a much more pivotal role in product creation, thus the concept of streamlining was born and completely changed the way we look at automobiles, radios, trains, etc. No longer were products bound to a box-like form. Corporations became much more interested in having their products be more aesthetically appealing and ergonomic, employing specific product designers to take on this task. Eventually, Industrial Designers have branched out and evolved their knowledge of materials and manufacturing processes to work side-by-side with engineers rather than a ‘handing-off’ process from a sketch. We work together to bring the product as much to life as possible from initial sketching to computer vector renders and eventually into 3-D cad drawings so minimal information is lost between everyone working in-house and the manufacturers whom are generally overseas. We also heavily take into consideration our consumer, which is priority, how he or she will purchase, use and dispose of our product, giving us an understanding of marketing and business as well.
In short, Industrial Designers have no direct, black and white job explanation. Instead, we are a colorful combination, a variety of expertise, constantly fluttering between tasks, divisions and departments. Behind every product there is a human and their concept, the process from start to finish is always evolving, but nothing alters the value behind the initial idea.