Industrial Design or Architecture


My story (I’m sorry for the long post):
From a very young age I wanted to become a pilot. I was probably influenced a lot by my father who was one himself. When I finished high school, I went straight into the Norwegian military. Instead of applying directly to flying school, I figured it would be smart so serve at least a year first so that I could understand how the organization worked. But I instead I learned that I didn’t like the military at all and that I would never want to work or spend the rest of my life there (and becoming a commercial pilot lost its appeal many years ago).

So, I had to rethink what I wanted to do with my life. Since I’ve always been very creative and loved drawing and making & shaping things, I thought that mechanical engineering would give me many opportunities. I began studying that last year, but quit a few months ago since I started to really despise it.

Fortunately, I learned some more of what I liked during my time as an engineering student. We had a course called “product modelling” where we did some sketching, some CAD and had a project where we developed this product from the early brainstorming phases to the final phases of making prototypes. I loved that.

We learned how to weld metal and I liked that as well. (Unlike everyone else who just welded what they were supposed to, I had a lot of fun making door signs, planes, masks and other stuff.)

I also won a competition on making a logo for a student organization and did some graphic design for other people. I enjoyed just putting some music on my headphones and mess around in photoshop until I got something cool. And it is really rewarding to see what you made being used in the real world afterwards.

This fall I’ve applied to both Industrial Design and Architecture on several different schools/universities in different places. But I can’t make up my mind, and I have until the 1st of july to decide.

What seems the most interesting to me about architecture is urban design. It looks really meaningful to help shape the society in a better way and I think with the direction the world is going, this is going to be important. However, I have never had a huge interest in buildings and abstract architecture holds no appeal to me.

Industrial Design looks really fun in the way it pretty much incorporates all of the things I consider fun. Inventing, sketching, CAD, making models, discussing with people, holding presentations, etc. But some of the things they design at design schools hold little interest to me. Like for instance furniture.

More about me:

  • I spend a lot of time on the computer
  • I’m very interested in politics, history, the environment and love debating things
  • Very extroverted. Definitely a “people person”
  • I’m pretty good at holding presentations and talking in front of people - I’ve had a part time job as a teacher and I’ve enjoyed this

I would appreciate any thoughts! :slight_smile:

  • Marac

Have you seen the documentary, Urbanized? Reading your story somehow reminded me of that film. Have you looked into Urban Planning by any chance? It sounds like you’re more into that than architecture.

My impression from Urbanized (and correct me if I’m wrong) was that the cases in the videos were exceptions and not the rule. Think of how many decently sized cities are out there, and then out of those how many are able and willing to undergo meaningful change. Then once you’ve come up with your vision and implemented it, you have to stay to maintain it or move to another city.
I have a feeling I would get bored, but maybe it’s for you. I agree with stesani though that what you described is more urban planning than architecture. Architecture would be designing the buildings themselves, depending on how you go about it it could be the aesthetic and flow of the building or down to managing the HVAC system, the structural engineers, reviewing codes etc.
Industrial design may produce physically smaller things but to me you have the opportunity for greater impact, aided by the volume you’re able to produce. If you’re looking for meaning maybe you can orient your designs to third world applications, etc. I’ve even seen third world dwellings designed by industrial designers rather an architects.
Take this with a grain of salt though, you are on an ID board after all, maybe ask the same question on an architecture board too :stuck_out_tongue:

It sounds like you have invested quite a lot of thought into your future plans which is a really good thing.

Though you have supplied quite a lot of background, it is virtually impossible to advice you towards one or the other.
I’d like to highlight however that if you go into Arch. or ID, that does not mean that you will have to strictly work within that field post graduation.

Maybe you could approach it by looking what will give you most of a foundation. Then after your Bachelors, you might want to move on to a Masters degree in the other field, really fleshing out your vision.
This might mean first Arch., then ID or vice versa.
Also, keep in mind that during an Arts education, your perspective will most likely change and develop. I don’t think I know any architect or designer who had the same mindset going in as they had coming out. Me included.

However, good luck with you plans.
If you are interested in Urban Planning, I too would recommend Urbanized by Gary Hustwit . While you are at it, why not also look at Objectified by the same filmmaker about certain areas of ID and philosophies behind it.
Despite their shortcomings, both films do a pretty good and entertaining job introducing the fields.

Thanks for the replies!

I have actually seen Urbanized and Objectified. They give indeed an interesting introduction into the two different fields.

Urban planning is something I considered, but I’m more keen on creating things hands on myself. Thus, I think I would’ve regretted not studying something where I could do that.

The major reason I’m having a trouble deciding, is that although I’ve never had a particular interest in buildings, the creating process in architecture involves things I like such as solving problems/being creative/drawing/shaping. So, there is a good chance I might enjoy that too.

Thankfully, on both of the places I’m trying to get into ID/architecture it is possible to switch (though you might have to start anew the year after.)

there are a number of schools that have both Urban Planning and ID, UC is one of the best. But they are seperate departments entirely.
Some have Arch and ID in the same school (I think GA Tech) and it may be possible to change majors more easily.

be sure to ask around on Arch boards as well

One of the ID programs I have applied to is a so called “Industrial Design Engineering” programme which is a mix between mechanical engineering and ID.

How do you think that would be in comparison to a “pure” ID degree?

Industrial design engineering is totally something different than I’d in most cases. It is engineering.


I’d agree,
sometimes it’s a technical degree about class A surfacing and tool designing - CAD jockey in other words.

Was admitted to the 5 year Industrial Design programme at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design.

Very satisfied. I’m going to first try ID. If it turns out I like Arch better, I can just switch.

Thanks for the help guys!