do you think Industrial design has a future ?

thanks for the detailed reply. Well I think I can guess who you are…
anyway, the reason why I posted this thread is to read how others are reading the profession. For me, there is no such thing as ‘die’ if you adapt.

I agree with SK that original thinking is important for the profession’s survival. The other being non-complacency and receptive to different cultures and thinking.

The true survivor in any profession in this era of knowledge creation is really about brains — how you think. Not just being smart but being wise too,

There are way too many things to learn in this world. I still have a lot to pick up…

just was curious about the pessimissm side to the profession. I can see how this side was perceived. And maybe this could be something we need to change and adapt too.

Also I am not bitching about the situation or anything in this predominantly left brain world… I am too cheery for that…

In any case, I think there should be a balance between the left and the right brain thinking…

hope I’ve made sense…

We’re talking about developing a criteria to advance. Finding a way to establish credibility would be nice. Everybody has ideas and the office manager could have the next winner but it seems like such a free-wheeling profession with nebulous parameters. It’s not like we would all turn into Dilberts if we had something that said we generally know what we’re doing.

There is a lot of this adaptation of Design, its always changing, etc, etc. NO kidding! Look, thats OUR business to inform people of whats going on and get paid to know about it. So we take a boondoggle conference every 6 months to catch up on the latest+greatest like every one else!

Look at some of the idiots that become teachers. You need to accredited to be employed by a public school. Works for them, why not us?

What will accreditation do for us again?

My accreditation is my college degree, my paycheck and the authority granted in my position.

I’m considering gettting PDMA certification, but only because my degree doesn’t guarantee my expertise in the subject.

Who I am? All you have to do is click about two buttons and you can find out exactly who I am. What were you meaning by this?

Producing good work = criteria to advance.

What credibility is Industrial Design lacking? I simply don’t understand this.

Tomato, tomahto…no?

I get, and agree with what you are saying. But Design (capital D) is very much like Engineering (capital E). There are many sub-sets of Design just like Engineering.

This all sounds like a semantics debate.

This is a very interesting question because to me, according to Ulrich & Eppinger in their book, Industrial design concerns the following disciplines:

Quality of the User-Interface (if there is one)
Emotional Appeal (semantics, styling etc)
Ability to Maintain the Product
Appropriate Use of Resources
Product Differentiation

Now take a look at my sorry excuse for a works space…lol!!

My shitty curtain, cup used as an ashtray, dusty PC, first generation Wacom on top of the speaker. Now these things may seem hideous to some but with this “stuff” i can create anything from music to design to literature. What i am saying is that i think (and some may not like this) is that design today (in general) is about differentiation for no real reason. Think mobile phones where you can check the time in outer mongolia. like…who gives a %$£". But people buy into this. ID in my opinion, is a dying profession due to too much competition. Real diffrentiation has long gone.

This is a great discussion.

Ladies and Gentlemen please bear in mind that - we are in the midst of an explosion.

No where in history where so many products made so mindlessly. ID’s have contributed to this profusion of products for the rapidly growing consumer base - resulting in a glut of products and designers of questionable abilities.

It has also produced a few good ones. Jonathan’s popularity - in a recent survey - is ahead of Bush (which on second thought may not be a great achievement). I think the Queen of England gave him an OBE to raise her own popularity standing. So take note, we got one or two. But in this era the rest are media stars.

As, cg correctly points out ” Industrial Design is a product of the Industrial Revolution. That revolution is over.” ID now, is at the tail end of the industrial revolution and as I see it moving into an experience economy – with its key role; to entertain people with cash who increasing board with life.

We got to also re-think what a “profession” means in an age where people can define their own profession. p_wirelessly – stick on to your values and your believes. They are admirable. Don’t expect others to follow. The world can do with their services.


…well actually no need to click on the site… and I know who you are…
anyway no negative meanings there. :slight_smile:

some say life is a bitch but I think it is what you make of it that makes it either a bitch or a bed of roses. cheers folks !

SK’s got some points there. And I’ve got a side point:
some people dont like Ive.
To me the true measurement of a good designer or indeed a good citizen of the world is to abide to the laws of nature – what keeps it sustainable.
I hate hypocrites to the core more than those who lament about life. Especially when the latter laments it for a reason and after chest banging they return to their desk and start tinkering about how to improve design – either by teaching or working.

Its not too bad really

hey SK whereabouts in Singapore are you in ??

Here, I posting this link so I don’t have to explain the whole thing…
Be sure the read the design management section.

So, who is to judge good work?? Your boss? Your boss’s boss?? Is it good because you finished under the deadline?? Are you a stylist putting lipstick on a pig? Is it good because another ID’er saw it and thinks its cool there fore it must be good?? Some problems are harder to solve than others but how do you put a finger on that? Do sales margins suggest good work so you get a pat on the back? Perhaps a huge marketing budget suggests your merits?? If your talents aren’t needed in industry, what does it matter how good your work is?? Very few companies put emphasis on ID and the ones that do are the few that us ID’ers are familiar with… Companies are finding ways to include design, they’re finding ways to cut the ID corner off.

ID has never been embraced with open arms by the business world and now its shrinking and the 1000km view is that we should better adapt to the future and carve out a space for ourselves.

well i think good work is one that is recognized by a great majority of people who has used your products.

I agree with steve we need to change and adapt. as to how we should do this, we need to know how to manage and think very well.

in this respect ID is not doing particularly well. unless Multimedia or graphic design, ID could be overlooked by most establishments because to many people ID is like outting art into products, and they don’t see that as vital to businesses unless they sell very well. to many consumers, arty farty stuff are usually more expensive to buy and are usually impractical.

it falls into the trap where people will tend to think that engineering is better suited for making useful products… so how do we get around this problem that ID is better off putting products in museums and for high end retailers than to the masses ? if it were for the masses, then some people may argue that engineers are better IDers than IDers…

quick scribbling here but hope I get the points expressed well…

May I suggest a fresh approach:

to many consumers, arty farty stuff are usually more expensive to buy and are usually impractical.

An important realization. We are looking at designers, products and consumers. Designers and Consumers are living opinionated objects, Products are not.

Let us try looking at the world from a products perspective. let us see how much of earths resources it has consumed, the way it was conceived (some god awful process involving the designer, marketing manger and others.) how it was produced, pushed into the market, gets into the hands of the consumer, how it gets used, how it is loved and why it despised and then disposed.

From a products perspective of life, all the bs that is thrown in by opinionated individuals disappears. It will be based on sober mundane and useful realities – which the designers are paid to erase and re-dress it according to the realties of the market.

Looking at the product from a products perspective may help designers develop an honest relationship with their creation.

What I have said above is a theoretical proposition. Do not encourage any designers to think this way at the moment as they have to face issues that are more serious and directly linked to their professional being. But as the world hits the environmental limits, people may begin to accept a different perspective on products and perhaps change their expectations.

nice perspective SK !

to add on, I always feel that designers need to ask the right questions.
Without that, you’ll end up with useless objects.

I also realise that a lot of designers seem to be focusing on the wrong areas when it comes to designing to solve a certain problem. Sometimes the problem cannot be solved by a product and has to be sorted out by a change in attitudes or setting a new regulation.

Sometimes the problem cannot be solved by a product and has to be sorted out by a change in attitudes or setting a new regulation.

A few things I have come to find as truths:

Designers are “Integrators” not “Creators” ( Effectively, Designers can do nothing more than take existing resources and turn them into a product.

Designers have a much higher perception of self-worth than those around us. This isn’t a bad thing. But at the end of the day we are useless without the others around us. Design, Engineering, Ops, Marketing (as much as it pains me to say it) are no more or less important to the project than the other. (hmmmm… thinking about this makes me wonder if Nussbaum was more correct than I originally thought).

To follow on this point, you can think like a product, or think like a consumer, or think like a tulip until the cows come home. Until you can think like a Businessperson, what you do as a Designer won’t mean squat. Wrapping products in environmentally friendly bows won’t get out the door unless it makes dollars and cents. Unless you’re an Creator (i.e. policy maker, producer of raw product), you are bound by the pieces of the puzzle around us. At this point in time, it is impossible as a Designer to make a sustainable cell phone. You need transistors. You need plastics that pass regulations. You need…

Which leaves me to question, especially based on this thread:
In the view of the end user and/or business world, what value does ID bring to the table other than styling?

As I see it Researching trends. Analyzing the consumer. Visual mapping. etc. all result in a “good looking product”. If I step back and look at what I do, the result is “styling”. Don’t confuse the process with the end result. What I am talking about is PERCEIVED value to those around us.

Methinks the sooner we wrap our heads around (accept?) our self-worth, the quicker we’ll be able to progress the industry.

I remember the day in college when our class looked at each other and realized that the earth would still revolve without us designers to make it better. The service of the design job may exist but the degree required to get the job can change.

I think the profession is lucky to have designers who believe their self-worth.
Not everyone can be an anal, critical thinker to help others make money.

Whats wrong with finally vindicating the worth??

Never said there was anything wrong with it. I don’t believe, however, its worth as much as most designers seem to think.

i see Nussbaum’s points as words of precaution. I like my profession dearly and am protective about it. But I must also recognise the risks and the inherent problems. I don’t think we should be complacent.

Some professions are better respected by others. Some are not. Then we need to ask why ? Is it purely discrimination ? if it is why do people don’t really pay that much respect to a designer than to an engineer ?
Only when we know the problems and willing to change then can the profession be improved.

Novels are written by the most creative people. but to win the hearts of many, you need not only have content, context but a heart of gold to bring in your heartfelt enthusiams and empathy into work and people.

Creative novels need not mean they are respected by a great majority too.
Not all good commentaries have profound effect on people. Not all creative journalist have the same respect from readers. Neither do artists, engineers etc could command the power of influence and offer great cotribution if the person wasn’t made of substance. – that substance is always about genuine humanity and staunch integrity.

hope my rush typing is ok.



Many people get a business degree, a small fraction end up owning businesses, most work for other companies as employees. Which of them do you think has ultimate power to steer their destiny, and possibly that of society?

It is like that for industrial designers as well.

If you want to make positive change, let no one be above you, or else they will make whatever decisions they want. And they may not be so ‘positive.’

I know people who started their own companies straight out of high school and were self taught designers and running things before many of my coleagues even graduated. Mark Ecko did that and now has a billion dollar clothing company.

So that’s the bit about intentions. Now for the design specific.

Good design can be incredibly powerful towards ‘good’ ends. How many of your ‘hippie-friends’ have gone through 3 or 4 junk cars that spilled oil and belched smoke while complaining about the ‘establishment’ and the rich and how unenvironmental they are. I can name a handfull. Now look at the people who save up and buy a Porsche, a Macbook, an Aeron chair. How many of those objects end up in a landfill? Not many. Most of those Porsches from the 50’s are still wearing vintage license plates. Those people usually don’t clutter up their lives with 100’s of smaller useless products, while the former group usually lives with tons of junk they have wasted their money on.

So if we could focus on working on less needless products, or those that are likely to be discarded we can do a lot of good. High quality design goes for all scales too. A better planned, compact city could eliminate 80% of the commuting Amaricans do in a year for example.

But ultimately, unless you desire to lead a car company, be a politician, or take some high position where you can make those decisions, just be happy designing and making a living at it- whatever the job- and forget about whether it’s positive. Because, unless you want to honestly fight at those high levels and in that nastiness, you shouldn’t wory about it. The irony is that selfless people seldom want power enough to make the changes they want, and selfish people who want the power rarely care about anybody else.


Filip (

When I first started College one of the first things my head tutor said to us is that the world would survive without designers, but that it is up to the designer to make their profession recognised as beneficial.

If you read ‘The Ten Faces of Innovation’ by Tom Kelley he talks about the different roles people play in the design world… Anthropologists, CAD Technicians, Peoplewarmers etc… there are loads of different types of people that create a design team. Yes 3d printing is making personal fabrication most accessible, and in ways making some ‘types of design’ (more relevant, Styling design) obsolete to a certain extent, but it is ultimately Industrial Designers, Product Designers, Footwear designers, Sportwear designers, etc who are so removed from the process that they are designing for (i.e. maybe Cooking utensils? Babys Prams? WHATEVER!) that they have a clearer view of what the real problems are (a more analytical and/or anthropological view). So that is where designers will always be.

What about entrepreneurs? They are in the same boat, they are business people (that may be a slight generalisation) who find a reason to set up a business, who see the need for a type of business/service to be established.

So in my opinion, yes, there will always be a need for industrial designers, unless everyone in the world wants to take lessons in anthropology, CAD, sketching, modelmaking… you get my direction here.