PD vs ID

Maybe a stupid question but I was wondering:

what is the difference between product design and industrial design (ID)??


they are both the same thing, it’s just a title

In essense there is no difference. Design is design. Bounderies are usually created by those with very little understanding of the profession. Also, culturally design is often called refered ti in different ways.

Hope this helps

ok, but I still don’t understand why the schools can’t manage to call it the same way!!

ID has traditionally been taught as a “discipline” and originally came from a fine arts perspective - i.e. painting, drawing and sculpting. Modern ID grew out of the set decorating field of theatre - e.g. Dreyfuss, Teague and Bel Geddes each served stints in set design. (Of the “big 4” founders of modern ID in the US, only Raymond Lowey, who came from France trained in fashion and illustration. Schools were developed later around the idea of “styling” industrial objects. It was only afterwards that other disciplines were put into the mix - manufacturing, marketing etc.

PD is a relatively new designation and denotes the entire process (and relevant disciplines) involved in bringing products to market. As such, “styling” is only part of that process, and either a relatively small or large part of it depending on what the product is, and the outlook of who is responsible for funding its development. PD tends to think of itself as “multi-disciplinary” and encompassing ID, Mech E, EE, UI, anthropology and whatever other “discipline”

Therefore, I respectfully only partially agree with the claim that “there is no difference.” It is true that if someone trained in ID works for many years with someone else trained in Mech E, their perspective will tend to meld together. However one could say that the designer of the space shuttle differs from the designer of a corporate letterhead differs from a designer of a piece of legislation.

This is a question that many people have asked, myself included; not least when I was applying for university. They are often used interchangably, and often mean the same thing. Sometimes, they mean different things from each other, but it completely depends on who you ask. I think PD may be a slightly newer term, but am not sure about that.

My admissions tutor claimed that despite the differences between the courses where I am now, it has nothing to do with different terms used in the course titles (ID being both the more technical and least technical, and PD being in the middle)

It is sometimes claimed that Industrial Design is a broader definition incorperating services and systems, while Product Design is a subsection of it, purely relating to ‘products’.

Sometimes, ID is the more technical of the two terms.

Sometimes, it is seen to be more concerned with styling and aethetics, with PD the more technical

In the States, Industrial Design seems to be the more used term; in the UK they seem pretty equal, and I have a feeling that PD is more commonly used on mainland Europe, although I am less sure of the latter.

Variations also exist, of course: Industrial Design Engineering, Product Design Engineering, Product Development, and many others.

So, to sum up: They are sometimes the same, sometimes different, although the difference changes. Hope that, erm, cleared things up!

Best Regards,


I know some corporations where the mechanical engineers have the title of “Product Designer”, to confuse it further. The Industrial designers have the title “Creative Designers”… basically you really have to do your reading and research into each specific use of the terms because there is no standardization.

…so it’s up to each coorporation or school to decide if they call it PD or ID…

but is there a scholl for example that offers both PD and ID??
because then there HAS to a difference!

I guess not but who knows?

…let it go