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yo
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and, that is what a lot of us do now...


jehan
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product development is the winner in my opinion. product architect sounds strange because architecture is immediately associated with buildings. It works for "systems architect" and similar things because a computer system is something you are "inside" when you use it, at least mentally.

product design would be ok, except that the word design has been cheapened for years now. many 2 year community college CAD courses call themselves drafting/design programs. every kid in a high school art class wants to be a "designer". indeed, most of them already are, based on the logo sketches in the back of their social studies notebook and the b&w pictures they took of their buddies skateboarding. I'm not sure if "design" even means anything, actually. I can't really think of a definition for it.

Also i feel design has a connotation of the frivolous, impractical side of things. All of the butterfly shaped, holographic cell phones and levitating kitchen robots on coroflot. the goofy vinyl dolls for grown ups, and the $1000 skull shaped hipster lamps. marc newsom's groundbreaking blob of a doorstop, and furniture that will never be sat on. all of these are known as "design". remember the "designer colors" of the early 90's?

product developer has a much more professional feel to it, of someone who works with marketers, consumers, engineers, modelmakers and artists to pull together a completed product. An "industrial designer" takes a grey box from engineering, makes it black, and adds some chrome trim. A "product developer" figures out what consumers want, why they want it, and works with a diverse team of proffesionals to fill the need, make it work, make it cost effective, and make it look good.

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yo
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the word "developer" has no art to it.

What we do is part art and part science... and if you think it isn't, your doing it wrong! :wink:

The search for and expression of true universal beauty is not frivolous... it is noble. If we can bring a little of that to every day objects that everyday people use for everyday tasks we've done more than delivered a mere product, we've delivered design.

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The_Boogey_Man
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Came across an interesting article today that relates to a few of the posts in here- Perspectives on building a philosophy of design


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jehan wrote:An "industrial designer" takes a grey box from engineering, makes it black, and adds some chrome trim. A "product developer" figures out what consumers want, why they want it, and works with a diverse team of proffesionals to fill the need, make it work, make it cost effective, and make it look good.


You are kidding right? You give a ridiculous view of what an industrial designer does and then go on to describe what they actually do as if someone else does it. Sure there are some lame people going by the term industrial designer but there are plenty of industrial designers plugging away out of the spotlight on all kinds of well developed products, doing exactly what you described.

The problem to me is the media focuses too much on people who do flippant, arty work and not enough on serious product development done by industrial designers. Part of the problem is that it's just not as cool to check out the latest work in washing machines. But another problem is companies are secretive about their processes and don't want the media coming into their labs to look at how they work.

So, so many industrial designers go unheralded. For every Jonny Ive out there there are a team of talented designers that no one ever hears about. And then there are people like Tinker Hatfield at Nike who do incredible work but never get any press outside of sneaker enthusiasts. The sad thing too though is that the sneaker enthusiasts love the work he was doing 20 years ago because they love retro shoes but back then he got little coverage in design media for the ground breaking work he was doing.

I'd like to see fewer books and blog posts on flippant design and student concept work and more on serious consumer product design done by industrial designers. This would in my opinion resuscitate any poor image they have from excessive coverage of people who make skull shaped lamps and rocket ship lemon juicers that don't work.

Rather than changing the term to product developer I think the media needs to get tougher on who it calls an industrial designer and see if some of them aren't simply artists or sculptors, even if some of their work gets (somewhat) mass produced. We need to get more 'industrial' back into industrial design and focus more on work done for real mass produced products. Vinyl toys don't count, for one.


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jehan wrote:An "industrial designer" takes a grey box from engineering, makes it black, and adds some chrome trim. A "product developer" figures out what consumers want, why they want it, and works with a diverse team of proffesionals to fill the need, make it work, make it cost effective, and make it look good.


Actually, that also reminds me of a story one of my lecturers told us in first year. The firm she worked for was approached in the 90s to develop a new line of PC cases for a computer company. As industrial designers they started by looking at the whole system and what could be improved. They tried to be radical about it and come up with something innovative. The problem was, when they presented the concepts to the PC maker they were immediately told to dial it back - a lot. In the end they basically designed a new face plate for the maker's existing cases.

The problem was partly that the designers had not entirely grasped the standards used in making PC components (which could possibly be traced back to the client not briefing them properly). But the other half of the problem was that the company was not interested in the cost of completely re-tooling their production line. To be fair that made economic sense to a degree but there was also the natural fear of change inherent in making a larger leap.

Regardless of the specifics, the example pointed out a common problem that industrial designers face. They might have great ideas that simply can't be implemented due to all of the complex factors in a project. Sometimes they DO just take a grey box from engineering, make it black, and slap some chrome on it. But it is unfair to say that's all they do. Many don't and many that do don't want to.

Industrial designers all have to work within the constraints of their projects and often deal with difficult clients who are not designers, just like graphic designers, architects and others. Judging their ability and usefulness based solely on a final product they didn't have complete say over is unfair.


jehan
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jehan wrote:An "industrial designer" takes a grey box from engineering, makes it black, and adds some chrome trim. A "product developer" figures out what consumers want, why they want it, and works with a diverse team of proffesionals to fill the need, make it work, make it cost effective, and make it look good.


hey, sorry, i think i may not have expressed myself clearly enough in this last comment. I'm talking about the name "industrial designer" and trying to make an argument for replacing it in some instances. I don't mean to criticize those who call themselves industrial designers. It's the dominant name for our field right now.

However, it seems like maybe it's not the best name because there's so much confusion over what we should call ourselves. Product design, industrial design, transportation design, toy design, furniture design. All of these refer to the art and science of producing new products and bringing them to market, along with the necessary research, conceptualization, styling, plus some manufacturing and engineering expertise. We hardly know what to call ourselves, why should the general public and even potential clients know?

Also, talking about the black box with the chrome trim may have sounded like I'm denigrating the styling side of things. Styling is an important part of the process, and can be a large piece of a product's appeal to the consumer. Many designers though, especially at smaller entreprenurial companies and consultancies, do much more than styling. These people might be better served by the term "product developer".

"Industrial Designer" is a name that is around 100 years old. The concept of "brand" as we know it today hardly existed and independent factories pushed their own generic products onto the market. An industrial designer adjusted automated wood cutting machines to produce parts for an acceptable chair, for instance. Or they drew up plans and instructions for skilled factory workers to partially handcraft products. This is no longer accurate. Worse, it confuses the public so much that most people think we design bridges or cranes.

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tarngerine
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Some of us do design cranes.

I haven't met someone outside the design school at CMU who knew what ID was when I told them it was my major. They kind of go "so you design machines and stuff?". Now I call myself a product designer, or say "Industrial Design. Designing products, cars, thatk ind of stuff". In Chinese, the term that I'd use is the equivalent of product designer. Product is literally: manufactured good. Dunno why I was talking about that. My head is dying.

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aham73
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It is not within the creative studios that speckle the world, but the spaces in-between where design becomes pragmatic. Our goal as designers is to create for the good of those spaces and the people that fill them. We invigorate the most minute experience into a meaningful and self realizing moment.

As designers, it is fundamental to gain an understanding of others- to listen, appreciate, and take on the nuance that exists in other perspectives. The truest experience can only be created when the designer understands the desire of the user. In design, needs do not exist. A consumer may need a particular item, but barely a second later that need is replaced by a natural longing for an experience that elevates above necessity.

Without a deep knowledge of...

color/shape psychology
emotional and physical ergonomics
form language
interface mapping
consumer psychology
business methods
manufacturing constraints
environmental impact

...we are lost.

Our profession is not a "jack of all trades", but a pragmatic study in which we learn to pinpoint and expand on the soul element of an industrial issue.

Good day.
Adam Hammerman
Procter & Gamble/ Cognitive Sciences/ R&D

www.coroflot.com/aham73

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yo
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Thanks for the clarification Jehan! I got a little worried there for a second!

Aham73, that is about a good of a recap of what we as I have heard in awhile.

Lately, I've been gravitating to the term creative. I am physically designing a lot less stuff, though I am directing design language, critiquing product, assisting in writing briefs, questioning the process, mentoring and building the team, explaining things to retailer, work with Brand Design on everything from our overall brand voice to our packaging hangtags... but I still consider all of these things design, and I apply the basic set of creative problem solving techniques to these diverse tasks. Which i why I like the term "Creative"... though it's a bit snobby sounding...

I still design some good old stuff though... working on a custom Jeep for the SEMA show this year!

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aham73 wrote:It is not within the creative studios that speckle the world, but the spaces in-between where design becomes pragmatic. Our goal as designers is to create for the good of those spaces and the people that fill them. We invigorate the most minute experience into a meaningful and self realizing moment.

As designers, it is fundamental to gain an understanding of others- to listen, appreciate, and take on the nuance that exists in other perspectives. The truest experience can only be created when the designer understands the desire of the user. In design, needs do not exist. A consumer may need a particular item, but barely a second later that need is replaced by a natural longing for an experience that elevates above necessity.

Without a deep knowledge of...

color/shape psychology
emotional and physical ergonomics
form language
interface mapping
consumer psychology
business methods
manufacturing constraints
environmental impact

...we are lost.

Our profession is not a "jack of all trades", but a pragmatic study in which we learn to pinpoint and expand on the soul element of an industrial issue.

Good day.


I think I may print this out and hang it up in the office. That was great!!
-Justin Coble-
http://coroflot.com/jcoble

"Never let the same dog bite you twice" -Chuck Berry-

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aham73
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Thanks for the kind words guys.

Mike, I'm glad you posted this on your FB wall, I love theoretical discussions on design.

An interesting aside as I reflect on my final week working at Procter & Gamble:

I've spent 10 weeks as the only designer in our department, a pack of cognitive scientists and psychologists. It's required not only patience, but the learning of an entire new language (both scientific and corporate). It's greatly influenced my understanding of our career choice. As much as beauty and design are an ethereal entity, they also exist as hard scientific data. Our concept of beauty and order is largely an evolutionary trait developed through survival instincts and desire to propagate good genes.

We subconsciously pick up on many (nearly) invisible queues that influence our perceptions of art and design both consciously and subconsciously. This is data proven through eye tracking, EEG readings, etc. That said, design will never be distilled into a formula. It will always require a creative spark to transform the masses of market research, consumer data, trendings, etc into real prolific design material. Products exist in a sea of inconceivably complex numbers (ever watch the movie Pi?) and some of these figures are more important than the aesthetic theme itself. A beautiful external hard drive is not "industrial" until you've made it feasible for the client to manufacture and sell.

The point of this is that good design requires analysis. Stylization is to make pretty. Design is to work through and create. It's not simply the latter.
Adam Hammerman
Procter & Gamble/ Cognitive Sciences/ R&D

www.coroflot.com/aham73

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yo
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A little OT, but this is what I call "Th Function of Form", In all the best designs, form is used in a combination of ways to communicate and draw attention to features and benefits (think and Air bubble in a shoe), to guide someone through the use of something (think of the orange touch points on Crown forklifts) and to communicate what can be called "Tribal Indicators" (think, I walk into your apartment and see a particular chair I know, that immediately communicates to me that we share a certain set of similar values, you can apply that to a Nixon watch, ann iPhone, and so on, I think that can be replicated).... all that in addition to eliciting an appreciation of beauty. Form has a lot of tasks to accomplish.

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The_Boogey_Man
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design will never be distilled into a formula. It will always require a creative spark to transform the masses of market research, consumer data, trendings, etc into real prolific design material.


1+

Which brings back Yo's point in that design is part science, part art. And it's this art side of things that has lead to 4+ pages with posts trying to come up with a name for what we do. Which makes me think, can and should it be defined?

I like Michael Roller's description:

When explaining the design process and design thinking to my partners, I’ve often had to resort to statements like, “It’s messy, but trust me.”

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aham73
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Hah that's a great point Boogey_Man.

It goes the same way even when speaking directly with other designers.

I have noticed though, as Yo also pointed out, that team building is a huge part of our job. Since our part of the project cycle is so interdependent on marketing, prototyping, manufacturing, accounting, etc, we need to communicate clearly and quickly.

Although sketching and visual aids work most of the time, I've noticed that most of project management relies on simple conversation. That said, it becomes increasingly more important for designers to have a clear language about our work that will facilitate project growth as our field becomes more integrated.

A lot of cool sketches on the wall are just that until you convince someone that you've got an idea worth expanding on. Also, a lot of non-creatives just plain don't care about the sketching and simply want to hear what you will make happen. It's important to let clients know WHY a particular design is better or worse than other offerings.

Which Michael Roller article is that? I'm supposed to get a beer with him and Finn this week so I might want to take a peek!
Adam Hammerman
Procter & Gamble/ Cognitive Sciences/ R&D

www.coroflot.com/aham73

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