“It’s Time For Industrial Design To Grow Up” is the clickbait title of a Fast Co. article trying to define what it is industrial designers are really doing in their jobs. We all have to be placed in a box it seems and with technology rapidly advancing, perhaps our titles do as well.
Every now and then a designer has to ask himself, ‘What am I really doing here?’ Product Design, Industrial Design, Experience Design, User Centric Design, Design Thinker? It’s a critical delineation when either a job advert is written or the lucky hire is told what it is that shall henceforth be stated as position on his business card. Different companies seem to have different agendas for naming their designers and the discussion becomes increasingly more complicated when debating it amongst your peers.
Head over to Core77 and you will find multiple conversation revolving around this topic. “Industrial Design is too broad”, “Define: Design”, and an old, very interesting one, “Difference between Product Design and Industrial Design”. Recently, this gem popped up: “Are Designers offended by the term “Stylist”.
I think we can agree that Stylist is not the umbrella term for our profession, but what is? Focusing on new job requirements many of us have, Gadi Amit, president of NewDealDesign, a San Francisco based Design agency, draws the lines of distinction like this:
“So, I’d like to propose that we retire the term “industrial design” for designers who work in technology. It isn’t simply outdated; it fundamentally misrepresents what it means to design for the tech world today.”
“And what does that mean? In designing an object, I define what can be done physically or digitally, delivering what kind of experience, at what speed, with what kind of future roadmap for the business and its physical-digital experience. That’s technology design in a nutshell.”
“Before a user can experience the exterior of the object, someone had to make its interior work right. That is the second trait of technology design—a hidden, new, and core requirement, setting it apart from industrial design.”
Read the full article here.
The article frames the topic in a way that does away with the term Industrial Design and places Technology Design its successor–a very provocative statement and one not easily accepted. But after considering Transportation, Jewelry, Furniture, Footwear and Fashion, as well as Medical Design and even Service Design, Technology Design could be the new dawn of design that encompasses many related disciplines. It certainly seems like the market is there.
The truth is, Industrial Design and Interaction Design have been blending together within company product lines for quite a while now. Many Industrial Designers see Interaction Design as a necessary aspect to the project, using it to realize the next product idea that employs the enabling powers of the connected world.
The Tech field is attractive to us–who wouldn’t like to work at Google X? I am sure many who set out to become an Industrial Designer right now, aim only for that–It’s what is on the menu after all. But why shouldn’t that change? We are absorbed in technology everyday and the media focus on connected tech concepts is overwhelming. With the promise of wearables, connected everything and even virtual reality, the demand for technological expertise is certainly going to grow.
We are bound to the industry and technology we serve and use. It develops, we develop… and it has been developing fast. This consumer industry brought forth what we see right now as ID, IX and UX. Going into 2016, we see designers learning to code and doing more and more screen design, rolling those three up into one, or at least combining two out of three.
Closer to Gadi Amit desire for change, may be the RCA’s run Innovation Design Engineering program, started just a few years ago while Interaction Design and Product Design MA´s ran in parallel. Two years ago I visited the RCA student exhibition and saw all three branches of students work next to each other. If it hadn’t been for descriptions and physical separation of each branch, I would have been hard pressed to tell who did what.
Tell us your business title in the comments, bonus points for added info of how good it fits you.