Switching from Architecture to Industrial Design

I’d love some feedback on my situation.

I graduated with a BA in Architecture, and worked for over a year at an architecture firm, but am now between jobs. I love consumer products, drawing, and coming up with new ideas for products, or just having more innovating thoughts toward new ones. I’ve had considerable AutoCad Experience, Photoshop, Illustrator, and working knowledge of other 3-D programs. I’ve experienced a fairly wide variety of design disciplines in school in addition to architecture, and am now looking to make a career switch to Industrial Design. I’m currently preparing a portfolio, some with projects from school that may be applicable.

My question is: How difficult is it to make the switch from a design discipline of architecture, to industrial design? Is there anything special I need to keep in mind for my portfolio?

Also, I’m not against going back to school, but would love the opportunity to really explore industrial design as a profession before I pursue a graduate degree in design. Any comments/auggestions anyone?

1st, go over to the schools discussion area and read up a bit.

2nd, post your portfolio so-far and ask for feedback.

3rd, surf around the portfolios here and think about the differences to your work and goals.

I just made the jump from a BA in architecture to the field of industrial design. My interest in designing footwear is what brought me to ID. I found it very difficult to immediately start a career in footwear design without any ID trainning. It seems you had a little more experience with a variety of programs, I attended a very traditional school, but I still think a design firm focusing on consumer products would like to see that you have a little experience in exploring that type of design. You may be able to get a foot in the door of ID with a few individual courses, but I would say that is probably extremely difficult, unless you “know somebody”.

I decided to head back to school for a graduate degree and could not be happier with my choice. I choose a school that within its graduate program emphasives the core technical tools as well as design. Each graduate program seems to have a different goals for its students and searching the student and schools section will definately help you in that area. My portfolio consisted of mostly architectural projects, and I believe that schools want to see more how you think/who you are rather than the skills you have acquired, contrary to firms. If you are not confindent with that matching the particular school you want to attend, taking a few courses can also enhance your portfolio.

I am also working in interior design now, which I have found fitting for a transition from designing space to designing product (sidenote). So, I think in the end it is up to you to find out what about ID really appeals to you and finding the best way to get there.

ScriptD: can i ask what school you chose? I’m trying to move from Electrical Engineering to ID which is even more of a stretch, but i’m loving ID more and more with everything I learn about it.

I applied to Pratt and the Academy of Art and ended up in San Francisco at the Academy. Pratt is known to accept people from all backgrounds and in turn seems to cater to their needs. The curriculum Academy of Art is very skills based. It has been a good experience thus far and the work I have seen from students of all levels is very impressive.

I am not really a practicing Industrial designer, but very much involved in it from a teaching and research point of view. My BSc was in architecture. The differences between architectural training and ID are world apart and also similar in some sense. Increasingly Architectural firms such as Norm Foster partners are using Industrial Designers to develop design details - that architects cannot achieve.

The practice of architecture is now somewhat different due to the higher levels of details that are required for buildings. IDers have a great advantage in this as they focus usually on much smaller scales.

Architectural education is often more open and in good schools lest bent on whom to copy next. ID schools tend to be hyperactive but do not do a good job in training students to think widely and students begin to hate and enjoy the part being totally confused. Architects are generally much better as BS especially the more famous ones. So do ID stars, but they do a much poorer job, so the chances of intelligent people getting genuinely confused is low.

But, if you have a dual background it will certainly enrich your life and carrier, but the advantages are not automatic. Be prepared to grapple with the differences for some time.

I certainly appreciate the input. Initially, I didn’t understand why my school had such a wide range of programs and project types within the architecture curriculum, but I think it gave the alumni the opportunity to choose from a wide range of interests within the design occupation. I’ve found a lot of educational programs sometimes trap students as far as their exposure to different aspects of the design curriculum, and make it difficult to find employement, build a valuable skill set, or have been exposed to enough areas within their field to pursue what truly interests them.