from architect to industrial designer...?


last year i graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architectural studies. i’ve worked in an architectural firm for a few months, but now i want to make a change in my path and would love to work for an industrial design firm. the thing is, i have no education background in industrial design (and honestly can’t afford school again for a while), could an ID firm even be interested in hiring me? i’ve been interested in ID for a while and am always curious and eager to learn… any advice?


disclaimer- take everytihng i say with a pinch of salt

if your really keen to do it, get a portfolio of stuff youve worked on (architectural stuff as well) and see if you can get in to a firm as a low paying lacky.

I think the main problem is that your not going to have a very good working knowledge of the manufacturing/production side of design, so if you can get in to a firm with your design skills (which i imagine are fairly good after an architecture course) then you should hopefully be able to pick up the rest through work.

I’m with remus. Just start doing it (in a conceptual, portfolio building sense) and apply for some entry level positions. You may find you have certain skills that some employers will want to round out their team with your specific background.

once you leave the architecture world… dont expect to get back in it… i’m in that boat right now…grrrr

remus and yo: thank you for your comments… i was kind of nervous about “changing” careers… but i’m now a little more confident about applying to an industrial design firm. thanks again for your advice :slight_smile:

cryzko: can you be more specific, what do you mean i wouldn’t be able to get back into the architecture world? … i mean, i’m interested in both ID and Architecture, but don’t necessarily want to be shut off from architecture entirely, and i would like to come back to it eventually.

i worked in a few firms for about 1.5 years after earning my 5-year arch degree… i then went into construction and started my small design/build/model shop… did some cool projects for just being a 1-man army…worked in alot of different trades/etc… now i’m looking for an arch office job and cant get anyone to even give me the time of day… reason being is that i dont have much office experience but yet i have the field/detailing experience…

unless you can keep up too date with all the hottness programs and somehow be able to work in a firm part time… if you leave for a few years…it will be hard to get back in…


i’ve worked in an architectural firm for a few months, but now i want to make a change in my path and would love to work for an industrial design firm… could an ID firm even be interested in hiring me?

Tinker Hatfield did it…

theres a good amount of people that leave the field of architecture due to creative binding… i think industrial/product design has more freedom to design than arch.


thanks for the link

Theres me thinking of going the other direction, continue my studies part time when i leave university so i can be a better rounded designer.


I am curious if you ever interned at an architectural firm while as a student? The sooner a student gets exposure to an actual working environment for their desired field the sooner they will be able to grasp with this profession actually entails. Most students sit in studio classes and think that being an architect or industrial designer means being the next “rock-star” like Karim Rashid or Frank Ghery. Get involved in an internship opportunity and your professional goals will change greatly.

I was in a very similar situation. I was completing my bachelor’s degree in architecture. While on summer break between my third and fourth years of a five year degree I went home and interned at an architecture firm in my home town. In the evening I was learning AutoCad at a local community college. I know that there are a wide variety of architecture firms. Each one has its own market and type of clientele. It just so happened that this particular firm serviced the corporate crowd and designed corporate office buildings. I was able to observe their design process and quickly realized that very few of the “architects” in this office did any design work at all. The majority of them were glorified cad-jockeys and spent the majority of their day creating construction documents. As I got a better grasp on the in’s and out’s of AutoCad, I came to the realization that this was not what I wanted to spend the remainder of my life doing.

While finishing out the last few years of my architecture degree I was able to take several industrial design classes as electives. I was even able to speak with the industrial design professors at my school and explain my situation. I was able to by-pass the first two ID studios and take the third and fourth year ID studios. When I graduated with my ARCH degree, I didn’t have an ID degree, but I had built up an impressive portfolio in both Architecture and ID. I interviewed for positions in either field, just hoping to land a job that would pay off my student loans, but always hoping to get my foot in the door in an ID firm rather then work as an architect.

The profession of ID is different in Architecture in that ID’s do not need to be certified. As you know, architects need to work 2-3 years (correct me if I am wrong) as a professional under a certified architect before they can take the certification test. For an ID position, you just have to show that you can handle the work. I was fortunate in that I had a background in manufacturing and even understood the processes more than most ID students interviewing for the same positions that I was.

I was able to land an ID gig, but I felt that I had to work twice as hard to prove that I belonged. For the first two years I felt that I was viewed as a pretend designer, that I didn’t go through the same experience as other ID’s that had an ID degree. Looking back now, it is my architecture experience that makes me more marketable. ID firms are looking to diversify their staffs. It is not healthy to have an entire staff with the same training and train of thought.

I was told many times that “a designer is a designer.” Both an architect and an ID are simply designers they just seem to to have a slightly different focus. If you no longer have the passion for arch and feel that you have a more fofilling career in ID, then I most definitely think you should pursue it.


Wow, thank you so much for your response and for sharing your experience.

I confess many of us as architecture students do dream about being the next “rock-star” but some of my professors at school actually encouraged that thought. Probably because my school focused more on the theoretical than the technical (the school doesn’t even have a technical drawing course or even an autocad course -just an introduction to sketching and microstation- and it’s one of the top schools in the country), and they pushed us without having many restrictions. But I believe many would agree that Architects/Designers are innate dreamers anyway.

I did intern at an architectural firm while in school. I was exposed to a variety of building types and the building process, and I learned the technical part of things, but all i did was sit in front of the computer working on Autocad and Photoshop. I still am after graduation, and obviously, I didn’t pull all-nighters every night for four years to do this. So that’s when reality sets in.

The system is messed up. I think the biggest mistake firms make is use their recent graduate intern as an autocad drafter, rather than take advantage of their fresh ideas. I understand that everyone has to start somewhere, but I don’t think it’s the best place to start. I know it’s probably the same way in ID, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I have the impression that ID is less creatively restrictive than Architecture.

In the future, I see myself working in both fields simultaneously, I mean, I love architecture despite it’s many flaws, haha, but I would like to experiment with ID as well.

Anyway, thanks again, I definitely feel that at least I have a little more insight into the field of ID, and what I can expect when changing fields.

GURU: Thanks for introducing me to Tinker hatfield!

architecture is over rated.

i do not believe architecture is overrated… saying anything is overrated is overrated.

have you left the arch. office for a few years and tried to get back in?

too much b.s. in firms…they just care about how many programs you know and care less about hands on/practical experience…

cryzko, from my experience ID firms and architecture firms are very similar in that way. I have tried to fill positions in different ID firms and they are also very program based.

Let’s face it, if your firm (arch or ID) has been using a specific set of programs and all of your computer-based work has been created in these programs, you will look to hire an individual who has knowledge of those programs. If they do not already know those programs, you will need to have a high level of faith that the candidate can master your firm’s programs in fairly quick time if you are going to consider hiring them.

I will show my ignorance with the current architecture job market, but what programs, other than AutoCad, are architecture employers looking for experience with? Isn’t Autodesk Viz considered the most widely accepted architecture rendering package?

This leads to your other comment. I have been out of architecture for nearly 8 years. For a period I thought it would be interesting to try to get back into that industry after years of professional ID experience. I think that it becomes increasingly difficult the longer you are out of any given profession to then return. In this case, I think that if you are out of architecture or ID for any longer than 2 years then you will have a tough time getting back into the profession and gaining the attention of any employer. As you can tell from my previous comments it is just too difficult to keep up on software releases. Hell, I am still trying to catch up on changes from Solidworks 07 to 08 and I use it almost everyday.

some of the programs that vary around the arch offices

autocad… usually you need to know this regardless

i just want to sit at a desk and do details and production/cd drawings…but they all still require everything else…

then you figure all your local building codes/etc… then office experience/etc…

i know a few talented people that might leave the profession soon… due to the b.s. in the industry and long hours…


I’m finding myself in the same situation. Architecture education, licensed and registered architect but my first love is still ID. I just don’t see the limitations between archi and ID, both involve design and problem solving. I think there are firms that do offer architectural and ID services, we are in the time where multi-faceted, multi tasking staff are needed, in the age of all-in-one and one-stop shop. Technology wise though I don’t think we have a choice but to learn the programs they use in the industry. We are at a point where everyone looks to getting an upperhand on other firms for clients so being knowledgeable in manual drafting, sketching, rendering, photoshop, autocad, solidworks, etc. (as much as your brain can take really) will really be a turn-on for employers. More talent, more skills, more efficiency, more profit. Information is really easily accessible with the web. Don’t lose hope in what you love to do.

I’m doing hi-rise condominiums now, but I will design and create footwear someday.