The recession is over...

…As we plunge in to a depression. Economic minds have said that we are now in a depression.If depressions will one day lead to redevelopment and economic building;
How do you feel about the future of Industrial Design?

Is this a catalyst for consumer designers?

Or should we think about how the government is going to start regulating so much that we witness another revolution?

your thoughts…

For us designers, I think it will be interesting to see how we’re affected. I don’t know how the current proposed bill will impact designers. It’s only 3% stimulus, and people are starting to realize that, so it’s looking unlikely. My hope is that it doesn’t pass, so we can get through the market correction in a year or two.

I think the longer the government delays a market correction, the worse it will be. I don’t think it’s healthy on the long term to try and prevent corrections from happening. Many people have been living beyond their means and they’ve cut back, so a lot of stuff that maybe they shouldn’t have really bought on credit created excess demand for a long time.

Hopefully our role as designers can increase the perceived value of meaningful products. All the designers I’ve talked to say it does during an economic downturn. I think this might be a catalyst for consumer design, but who knows?

There will be a renewed emphasis on substantive innovation that delivers easily quantified value.

The phrase “consumer design” makes me shudder. Everyone thinks they can be a designer. If you work in this profession you know what I’m talking about. It is F@%KING annoying to say the least.

Oh that? That’s the product the boss tried to design that we all had to put up with until it failed miserably and now it collects dust in the sample room. Puh-leaze let us do our thing. We’re good at it. Thats why people pay us.

Designers are in the unique position of constantly pulling the future into the now. If you are worth your salt as a designer you are always thinking three steps ahead for possible problems and pitfalls. Consumer designers can’t do this. In order for there to even be consumer design a real designer will have to set up some sort of template system. If you give someone with no real design skills carte blanche the end result is usually a hot mess.

I agree with aaron. The worse the economy becomes, the better designers and the designs they create have to be. You have to fight for the dollars available. Your concepts need to be in top form. Hopefully the end result is better quality products and an end to the disposable mindset that has been prevalent for some time now.

Amen to you guys! ^

I think my department is reaping a certain benefit in this lean time, because we are normally a stringent group, hiring when needed with not a lot of foppery. At the best of times we are hammering home about the ways in which ID has cut costs, increased function, made product look good and increased sales. Initially I thought that it was a waste of time, but this intra-company communication has really helped our reputation. It is rarer and rarer that a manager thinks that ID is the style powder on an engineering mule. I really have to credit the head of my dept. He is great at communicating the tangible benefits of the ID process, as opposed to the subjective aspects of ID. Internally we talk about whether a product looks good. Externally we talk about the objective aspects, or tangible results of better looking products ie clear interface, decreased parts, easy assembly etc: When people start thinking of you as the person who understands all aspects of the product- manufacture, aesthetics, usability then you have power to change the direction of design, and are not as easily dismissed. Generate ideas and concepts like a designer. Whittle them down like a marketer or engineer.
ID is probably going to be more sober and grounded as a process. However I think that the designs we generate will be more optimistic

I like your thinking Masterblaster, and I hope you return to Auburn soon to give another sketch lecture. :slight_smile:

However I really want to look deeper in to the rabbit hole? If there is a failure in effective demand,will there be industrial design at all or will people revert back to finding tradesman and hobbyist and bartering with what they have?

This may sound extreme but it is something to think about. We are tiptoeing a very thin line with a depression if we haven’t already taken the plunge.(obviously no one would tell us if we werin a depression due to the chaos that would follow). The Great deprresion was bad but instead of one billion people in the world; you now have 6.7 billion people to feed.

I am thinking extreme because I am seeing the extreme.

If we get to the point whare there are no more designers because we’re reduced to a barter society I would invest heavily in firearms, ammunition and canned goods…

I already have. Don’t forget the oil! :laughing:

I mean this Economic Turmoil could just be a good shift kick and we could see smaller companies with better business plans stepping up to take the riens in our economy.

Lets hope for the best and prepare for the worst :slight_smile:

Alerick- I dont think that there is any reason to be that extreme. IDers will probably lose a certain amount of jobs- my guess is that this would be worse for consultants. They will probably be dealing with more start-ups and small corporations (continuation of a trend before this downturn) Corporate designers will fare better as the trend in recent years has been to move ID competencies in-house. Dont get too frightened by all the doom and gloom in the news. As much as I love listening for information, they seem to thrive on creating panic.
So far most corporations seem to be pushing through with their innovative programs. If the economy gets worse in the US, I think that it will probably work out in the long run, as China will start to sell domestically and the US might be able to export more.

Lot of things out of IDs hand. Nothing to do except provide tangible benefits to the end user, at less price to keep afloat. In these times even flat sales is a victory.

We’re not going to have a depression. People are dumb and not as logical as they were in the 30’s, it would be chaos. Of course if you wanted that reaction now would be the time to put it in to play.

I will have to say that an economic depression is simply a downturn in the GDP for several years. So we could still have a depression.

unfortunately, I think a lot of corporations aren’t completely on-board with that… I’ve heard of several corp ID guys getting laid off over the last year. in the 2001 recession there were a lot of corp guys getting laid off too

Hmmm- I remember that too. Lets see how this turns out. Should be interesting.

yeah, fingers crossed! You might happen to work in a better than normal corp group :wink:

I’d actually suggest the reverse may be more true. Hard for corporate to look after the bottom line when you have X designers on staff, and you used to do Y# of products but given the economy the company may be pushing out far fewer in the future, making the amortized cost of keep staff less worthwhile.

Getting rid of staff and moving to freelance allows corporations to quickly reduce bottom lines and then only pay for what they need in an economy that is quickly changing.

As well, with many companies having hiring freezes and whatnot, it makes it a much easier pill to swallow to “pay-per-project” (pay as you go model), than committing to hiring and all the benefits, relocation, etc. that go along with it.

Personally, I’ve actually seen my consulting business take an initial upswing recently, while though perhaps it may be seasonal and not last, i’m working more at the moment than the same time last year… of course other factors could certainly be involved.


I would agree with Richard’s assessment, bearing in mind that things are tough all over and the consultants will get hit by the instability as well. Erratic cash flow is hard to deal with.

Michael Bierut’s article at design observer is great…

I’ve had the same thing happen, totally counter-intuitive considering the dreary news all the time… Im totally slammed now

agreed… I’d be hard pressed to give up my day job for freelance considering it could all dry up overnight

several of the design engine students obtained jobs even in MI (this month even) … a state that is at the top of the F*cked list. There are hundreds of job openings in States like MI for the right person. I suggest you tailor your resume to fit the job. So many just fire off the same resume to manufactuerers.