The term industrial design is too broad

Frankly, when someone says they are an industrial designer it could mislead and confuse people, for someone with such a career or planning to be in that field it would be constantly annoying for him or her to have to explain the job thoroughly to every single person because of how broad this term is.

I was wondering what you describe your career as, here would be some names:

Product architect
Product Management
Product developer

Sometimes being broad is a good thing. It gives designers the ability to stretch into whatever space they new to get the job done.

Product manager and product developer are both existing titles in the new product development organization of most companies so that would not work.

Product architect is pretty descriptive. Architect is frequently used on the software side to describe the person who is designing the overal system.

At this point changing the title is going to be swimming up stream. It is better to focus energies on actually doing good design. Be thankful you have a profession interesting enough to be worth explaining :wink:

Very good points, but product management and development could be jobs an IDer can get, or is it outside the realm of ID?

Also when describing ID, is it legit to say that they could be involved throughout the making of a product from design to production, manufacturing, development and marketing?

[quote=Also when describing ID, is it legit to say that they could be involved throughout the making of a product from design to production, manufacturing, development and marketing?[/quote]

Absolutely!! Now, for the most part, I’ve always worked corporate or for my own business. In doing so, I had to have intimate knowledge of manufacturing, sourcing, engineering, marketing, graphics, etc. What I never really got a chance to do was the really in-depth analysis of ergonomics and user-oriented research. That’s obviously something else that ID’ers get involved with.

I usually just say I’m a product designer. Sure, most people think I’m an engineer. That’s fine considering the majority of the population tend to place high value on that position. If I told them I had been an art major (since ID was in the school of Art and Design,) I wouldn’t get the same respect.

Really depends on the situation and who you’re trying to communicate with. If I’m in a social setting, I generally take the dichotomy of being a ‘designer’, ‘product designer’, then an ‘industrial designer’.

With that said, in San Francisco most people understand what an ‘industrial designer’ does, especially one based in SF (consumer electronics/products, startups, etc.). The issue I often have is when people tell me they’re a “Product Designer” and are talking about web, mobile, or app design—but that’s another thread and another rant.

Rant: it irks me to no end when I see all these daily posts on Core showing one-off furniture and lighting designs. Pie in the sky kind of stuff. That’s what we call “art.” They are not designed for mass-production. They don’t take into account how they are manufactured and transported. They don’t even really care how much they cost!

An industrial designer has to take all of those things into account.

The issue I often have is when people tell me they’re a “Product Designer” and are talking about web, mobile, or app design—but that’s another thread and another rant.

Okay, since we’re ranting… when, where, and why did banks, and other “lending institutions”, start calling their loans, checking accounts, savings accounts, car loans, mortgages and such, products. I know assembling all those documents into packages is the product of someone’s labor, and that products are defined as anything that satisfies a customer’s needs, but it’s not what I think of when I hear the word. The term used to be services.

Since the MBAs were unable to interpret their Business 101 textbooks and had to take everything literally. “What do you mean I sell a service? This books says I can only sell PRODUCT!”

Anyone else feel a little offended that UI/UX/webdev folks have kidnapped the term “product designer”?

I guess in a literal sense it’s an logical title for them, but couldn’t they just adopt another term instead of one that’s already in use?

Karim Rashid wrote an open letter that was published in I.D. magazine (the latter years :unamused: )

Mr. Rashid basically said that we are not industrial designers, we are not graphic designers, and so on. What we are designers, makers, we are the dreamers of dreams. I have to do graphic design; you probably do too, I do CAD, I make things with my hands, I write code (not a lot), I program micro controllers, and write blogs. I’m not an engineer of any variety, I’m not a member of the AIGA, and I will not be getting a Pulitzer. Really I’m more off put by people who do not think of where their things sprang fourth from then the title of the people whom execute the process to produce them.

Can you link the title Industrial Designer to the term Architect? It doesn’t have the same meaning, or prestige. The Industrial Designer title is the service component for a set of technical skills in a field of design. There is your qualification title, which is the set of skills that you use to full-fill your job. And there is your actual job/role title.

Industrial Design is not too broad. Your confusing the qualification term with the work/role of Industrial Designers.

I classify myself as a ‘Luminaire Designer’. Luminaire Design B.Des (ID). Because of this, my salary is significantly higher than the average ‘industrial designer’ (title/sell themselves), or an ‘Industrial Designer whom designs light fittings’.

I believe the degree teaches you the skills to execute your ideas. In our case, sketching, drafting, prototyping, project management/manufacturing. The term industrial design is your set of skills, therefore you are a ‘service’ of design. If you call yourself an “Industrial Designer” the point which you identify and transmit your skills (of ID) into a specification or genre of design is the point which your Intellectual property becomes the valuable component as a designer. My intellectual knowledge is currently ‘Luminiare Design’ (1.5 years experience, considered a graduate by some), integrating light sources with fittings, thus I earn far more than the average graduate ‘Industrial Designer’ would.

To further expand on my initial point, the term ‘Architect’ is the title of your job. The first three years of Architecture is a Bachelor of Design (Arch) (In most cases around the world). At this stage you have a drafting skill set qualification to design structures, but primarily drafting only. The job title Architect comes from a further two year Masters course where you learn about the fundamentals/history/functionality/considerations of Architecture Design. To be titled an Architect, you further go two years experience (intern) to be registered as an Architect (in most countries).

My point is that Industrial Design is the generic title for your skills and service as a designer. It gives you the first level of education to begin as a Designer. Either industry experience, or education specialisation (Diploma in Furniture Design, or a Masters of Yacht Design) provides you with the ‘Intellectual Property’ check box to charge for your creativity/ideas, opposed to your “service” as a designer hourly rate). When you cost a new job, your hourly rate is the service, your mark up of 100% is the IP you are selling.

Note the design consultancy business model. The boss is the creative director (ID), he gets his minions to draft up his designs. Eventually his minions (Graduate Industrial Designers), become specific designers like Creative Designers (B.DES.(ID)). They are finally using their IP (industry experience specialisation) and earning more money for their specific role and therefore ‘Title’.

To change industries for example from automotive to furniture design, you usually are competing in the job hunt as an ‘Industrial designer’ again with experience cross over of ‘styling’ or production knowledge only. You still do not have furniture specialisation experience, and therefore take a pay drop to change industries, until you prove your IP.

‘Industrial Designers’ whom work in an Industrial design consultancy firm with the title ‘Industrial Designer’ will rarely make the big dollars. They are always being charged out at a ‘service design’ hourly rate, which is governed by the industry standard design wage rate (Low). The business takes the creative IP for your work, which is the mark of the consultancy.

Its not that Industrial Design is too broad. Its that the meaning of the word is confused with the title of your employment. If you are starting out as a graduate, your experience as a designer is university based. Which I see is a positive for the title Conceptual Designer (D.Des (ID), or Product Designer, B.Des (ID). Your entire degree is based around conceptual learning and research into the latest technologies in over broader industries. You have read journal articles and are more up to date with the last four years of design trends and technologies than many specific designers.

Opinion Food for Thought…

Liam Petrie-Allbutt B.Des (ID)
Melbourne, Australia