Majors/Careers Similar to ID

Hey there,
I’m a high school senior who’s been doing some college visiting this summer for ID. I’ve been to Cincinnati and Philadelphia U so far and am applying to both. My dream has been to work for New Balance (but I’ll take Saucony, Brooks, etc.) as a running/competition shoe designer. That is why I’ve been looking at ID. However, I’m not 100% sure I want to do ID. For one thing, I am concerned that I won’t “make it” in college. I’m pretty smart and all, and I am a halfway decent photographer, but I don’t have the artistic drawing skills that I see in the portfolios of current students at the schools I’m looking at. Also, even if I do make it through school, there are no guarantees that I will get a job in the industry I want. It doesn’t help when I hear all of the doom and gloom about the job market these days. And finally, 10-20 years from now I might not be into running/running shoes like I am today. So sure, I’ll be doubling down my senior year on art classes to develop my skills, but before I dedicate myself entirely to Industrial Design I just want to see if there is anything else out there. From an early age I was exposed to Urban Planning and for a long time I was certain that was what I was going to do. I like the design part and I love visiting cool towns/cities, but from what I hear the actual career of planning can be more politics and paper pushing than actual design. I did get to see the Urban Planning department at DAAP which was great because I could kill two birds with one stone so to speak. Landscape Architecture and Architecture are interesting but seem too “artsy” without the practicality that ID (sometimes) has. After that the list wanders to Technical Writing, Geology, Geography, Philosophy, and some sort of Enviromental-Arborist-Forestry-thing like they do at SUNY-ESF down the street from me.

:smiley:

If you’re still here, here’s my question. What are some closely related careers/majors to Industrial Design? Maybe some of you professionals had classmates who transferred into a different major or something like that. If I do more college visits for ID I could take a look at some of these other departments during the same visit like I did at DAAP.

Thanks everyone

I wouldn’t say that Architecture is “artsy”, but it depends what your definition of artsy is. It’s similar to ID in that its a blend of “art” and science. Also the scale of building design is different than ID, but there are so many avenues one can go into from that point. Bear in mind most of the top furniture designers from the 20th century were architects. There are schools that focus much more on engineering, physics and structural design, while others might focus more on the esoteric and heavy on the theoretical side of architecture. You can specialize in commercial or residential, even industrial such as manufacturing facilities. Its also possible to focus on sustainable design which would entail detailed study on energy efficiency, sustainable materials, and multi-function spaces both inside and out. I think Architecture is very practical and it would be advantageous to set yourself apart by getting a grad degree in something that augments it such as Civil/Structural Engineering, construction management, or Architectural Engineering. I have come across a few people who have undergrads in Architecture and then went on to get a masters in ID. It comes in handy because they understand scale from smaller-than-a-breadbox right up to buildings. I can see how it might be useful to non-building structures but still larger scale projects such as bus shelters, exhibits for tradeshows, and shopping mall kiosks (franchised/branded ones like coffee stands, etc). Going to school is only as good as knowing how your education and skill set can be applied in the real world. And those are things one evolves into over time as they learn and progress.

First decide what you actually want to do each day. If you want to be designing products, I would choose ID or Product Design. If you want to choose a niche industry within ID, then go for something like Jewelry Design, Exhibit Design, Toy Design, Furniture Design or Transportation Design. If you want to focus on shoe design, you can study in an ID program but spend some time at a school like Ars Sutoria in Milan - I think they might offer some classes in the US. Or maybe a fashion program like FIT.

I studied mass produced furniture design (as opposed to the woodworking/craft-based sort) because I chose to focus on a niche industry and grow in it rather than design every kind of product. I can’t say I’m an expert now, but my career has been a fairly successful experience thus far - with its fair share of ups and downs.

However I will say that while nothing teaches you real world things like real world on-the-job experience, there are some things you might not learn at your company but are of interest and tangential to ones career path. Those are times where continued education might be a consideration even afterward, just to keep your skills nice and sharp – and competitive!

I know a lot of people who had ZERO drawing skills before either furniture or ID, and after four years of hard work sketching day in, day out, they are on par with just about any other professional product designer. Its just about practice after learning the right techniques. I sketch a lot but nothing that customers will ever see. In my industry they only care about realistic renderings. But I don’t think there is a good substitute for knowing how to sketch well. I believe that you will learn if you try.

Before I chose Industrial Design I considered Fashion Design, Interior Design, Engineering, and Architecture. Fashion and Interior design are things that I’m interested in, but ultimately not as versatile as I would like. Engineering and Architecture were just a bit too bland and not artsy enough for me. Industrial design to me is the perfect mix of art, design, and practicality.

I actually have the same dilemma as you, I have an Architecture degree here in South East Asia (Phil. Islands) but have never heard of ID until I came across Feng Zhu. Now After I’ve done my research, I realized ID is what I really wanted since I was a child. Is there any way for me to take a Masters in ID with my Architecture degree under my belt. If so? Which schools offer this kind of program, I was thinking of filtering my choices to countries like Canada and Australia? (coz I’ve heard they more cheap than the US) Thanks a lot guys!

Thanks for the responses.

If I can I’ll look into Sustainable Architecture because that seems more functional/practical which is my kind of thing. While a building like the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rio de Janeiro might look cool, it doesn’t interest me as much as homes made with straw-bale construction or re-used shipping containers. The difference is, one looks cool but doesn’t do anything a “normal” building would do while the other serves a new purpose and just happens to look cool. Same thing goes for ID when it comes to shoes for me. I am more interested in creating sub-3 oz. track spikes than cool looking Jordans just to wear around. Whatever I choose, ID or otherwise, is there a way or place that would allow me to focus on the practical side of things?

Industrial design (ID) is a small segment of the new product development (NPD) process. Also included is research, marketing, engineering, sales, finance, manufacturing, distribution and other related professions.

New Balance will offer jobs in all of those areas. Go to their website. See what jobs they have posted. Pick one that floats your boat. Every other company in the world that develops innovative products will have the exact same jobs.

For the lack of drawing part. I went into to college having only taken 1 art school in high school. And I may not have been the best drawer , but I can communicate and hold my own now. Its crazy how much you’ll change in your first year drawing classes. We did a self portrait on our first day and on our last day and the difference was night and day for everyone. Compound that over 5 years and its a big difference.

As for not being as into Footwear in 10-20 years. I’m not sure that’s a big problem. I got into ID cause I wanted to design soccer cleats. (Still do one day). But after 5 years of schooling you realize the options that ID opens up. Toys, Furniture, Consumer electronics, soft goods, you can even get into tangential fields . Environment design, service design, fashion, materials innovation, UI, UX. Your not really tied down to one field. Heck I know a few people who went straight into the entrepreneurial route and are starting their own brands right out of school. The point is you can jump around in your career, you’re not tied down to one area of design.

Also remember that you wont/don’t have to be a true designer forever. As you get older you’ll can transition to higher rolls. Managers, Design Director, Creative Directors. All which will allow you the freedom to move between industries.

Thanks for the responses.

If I can I’ll look into Sustainable Architecture because that seems more functional/practical which is my kind of thing. While a building like the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rio de Janeiro might look cool, it doesn’t interest me as much as homes made with straw-bale construction or re-used shipping containers. The difference is, one looks cool but doesn’t do anything a “normal” building would do while the other serves a new purpose and just happens to look cool. Same thing goes for ID when it comes to shoes for me. I am more interested in creating sub-3 oz. track spikes than cool looking Jordans just to wear around. Whatever I choose, ID or otherwise, is there a way or place that would allow me to focus on the practical side of things?

Boston Architectural College has many excellent tracks in Sustainable Architecture that I believe go up to the masters level. If I had to go into architecture, I’d pick a REALLY good school. I’d also pick one that balanced the theoretical with the practical. I’ve come across recent architecture grads who had no actual building experience, as in they didn’t know how to build a structure themselves. When it comes to new experimental materials, it seems like a good idea to be an architect that gets their hands dirty. If you haven’t seen the documentary Garbage Warrior, you ought to. You can find it free to watch on you tube I think. Very inspiring.

Other non-traditional architecture schools are the Frank Lloyd Wright school where you spend several months in Arizona and Wisconsin designing and building houses for hot and cold climate respectively; and NASD in San Diego.

If you go to a school that’s not so “experimental” then you might consider also attending SFIA which is an extremely non-traditional fully-online program (have some classes on site too). Since they aren’t accredited you can’t get federal student loan money but their tuition is dirt cheap. You probably could never get a job as an architect going to SFIA but you probably could learn a lot from their AAS, BS and MS in Ecological Design (what they call sustainable architecture). I’m talking building out of cob, recycled materials like tires and glass, etc. I own several of the books they teach from and have learned a ton even though it has nothing to do with my career. I gravitate towards this style of architecture myself due to my personal disdain for suburban mcmansions and lifestyle.

If you just want to get a taste but maybe not a bachelors degree, you could even enroll in the fully online (regionally accredited) North Dakota State College of Science for their AAS in Architectural Drafting and Estimating program. It’s not architecture, but will at least expose you to the technical aspect of buildings from the ground up as opposed to designing. Good luck.