Friday, June 27, 2008

What is Industrial Design?

When people ask me what I studied at OCAD and I tell them Industrial Design (I.D.), they often look at me dumbfounded. What is Industrial Design? is a question that I hear often.

Well, there is no concrete - carved in stone definition. It's basically product design. Designing products like furniture, toys, product packaging, shoes, clothing, jewellery, cars, sporting equipment, kitchen appliances, get the idea. It's the mass production of products BUT not always. It could be small scale production too! It's designing products that help make people's lives easier...supposedly. It's design that also takes aesthetics into account. Aesthetics is an important factor when purchasing a product. Just look at Apple computer products (the iPod Touch and the iPhone) and the success of the company.

On the flip side there is bad design too. Unattractive, badly made products that do not take the user (consumer) into consideration. Badly designed products that may injure the user (i.e. children's toys are often recalled) or are poorly made and difficult to understand their intended use.

Parents - do you ever have a hard time assembling your child's swing set? Do you ever have a hard time understanding how to program an electronic device like for example a digital camera or a movie camera? Does having too many knobs and buttons on a product confuse you? Does using new gadgets stress you? Have you ever wanted to toss your fax machine or printer out the window? Well, it's not you that is the problem. You are not an idiot for being unable to understand how to program a VCR. It is the designer and the engineer's fault. Bad products = bad design.

Here's your chance to vent. Tell me about a bad product experience that you have had. Or tell me about a great product experience you have had. Anything that makes you squeal with delight when you use it?! Tell me about it...I'm all ears.

So who are some famous Industrial Designers?

Philippe Stark

Raymond Loewy

Le Corbusier

Eileen Gray

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Alvar Aalto

Buckminister Fuller

Frank Gehry

and many others.

The following video clips will shed further light onto the question of what is I.D. ?