Movie Characters that Play Industrial Designers

So, without knowing it at the time, the movie Big changed me. Tom Hank’s character is a 12 or so year old and he wished to be “big.” Well, when he surprisingly woke up one morning as a grown-ass adult, his mother ran him off and he found himself in a toy store in NYC. When the owner was running the floor of his busy toy store, Tom Hanks struck his eye, and offered him a job. That job is basically what an industrial designer does on a day-to-day. He comes up with product ideas, tests them, and offers feedback. So formidable!

Oh! another one: Stu Pickles, Tommy Pickles’s father in Rugrats was an inventor!

So I wanted to know what other movies perhaps influenced you? Any movies/tv shows that have a character that is an industrial designer? (sorry if this is the wrong thread!)

How could you not mention Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride? :grinning:

Industrial designers are very few and far between in film, especially if you don’t include characters that use the clichéd “inventor” moniker. General audiences mostly have no idea what an industrial designer is, and no one wants to write a screenplay where they have to spend time explaining it.

Thus these characters are rarely (maybe never) referred to as industrial designers and are more often (maybe always) presented as borderline cases, straddling the lines between industrial designer and other, more well-know occupations like artist, engineer, craftsperson, architect, etc…

…Which is oddly both indicative of the career paths of many industrial designers and the reason it is so difficult to explain the nuances of our profession in a captivating, cinematic way.

Anyway, here are the first few that pop in my head:

  • The Philadelphia Story - Cary Grant designs yachts.
  • Like Crazy - Anton Yelchin designs furniture…sort of. By everything you see on screen he has somehow made a successful business and career out of one chair. More of a furniture builder than designer.
  • Father of the Bride (1991) - Steve Martin runs a small athletic shoe brand, though it’s unclear if he ever designed said footwear or just runs the company.
  • The Hudsucker Proxy - Tim Robbins. “You know. For kids.”
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The big one is Orlando Bloom in that Garden State knockoff, Elizabethtown. Him being a (failed) shoe designer is what kicks off the plot.

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I cannot believe the profession got to the silver screen so early! Thanks for this!

So industrial designers (yacht designers) were exposed in American cinema since at least 1940?! Wow.

Thanks ya’ll! I suppose I’ll try to throw more in as I think of more.

Perhaps the most important one after Big was Q from the early 007 movies! He designed with function and ergonomics in mind! I always loved the tiny oxygen tank and the laser Rolex.

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Yup, although if memory serves me (it’s been a long time since I saw that movie) he refers to himself as a “marine architect.”

I think Alex Tremulis makes an appearance in the movie about the Tucker.


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Alex Tremulis was still around when the movie came out but he was in a nursing home diagnosed with dementia.

I knew the guy who provided the majority of the cars used in the film. His business was renting cars and props from his collection (he owned over 100 classic cars) to movie productions and music videos and ran a shop across the street from Paramount Studios. He also built the Tucker cars that were crashed on screen, they were made from fiberglass molds taken from original bodies and laid over beat up Packards.

@sonofscrotum I should have said I think there was a character representing Alex Tremulis in the movie… not Tremulis himself. Did that make any sense?

Lewis Robinson from the movie “Meet the Robinsons” (2007), Rodney Copperbottom from the movie “Robots” (2005), and Bigweld also from the movie “Robots” (2005).

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Would we consider a special effects designer and technician to be a designer? If so then:
F/X Murder by Illusion (1986)
The protagonist, Bryan Brown, exhibits the skills of designing, prototyping and model making. His creations are functional whilst also having to look a certain way.
But no, I can’t think of an Industrial Designer character per se.
Perhaps a problem with depicting a fictional Industrial Designer is this: how do you represent their work? It’s akin to making a film about a fictional rock band on the verge of success - what music would you have your actors perform?

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