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What Exactly is Industrial Design?

by David Bier

When asked what my occupation is, I rarely answer the same way twice.  While my title is Industrial Designer, this simple answer almost always leads to assumptions ranging from “You design factories?” or “You’re an engineer?”, so I try to give more detailed responses to avoid any confusion.  I’m not an engineer and I don’t design factories.  My job is to help create products and systems that benefit both the manufacturer and end user.  While engineers are more focused on designing the way a product will work, an Industrial Designer’s job is to optimize the aesthetic look, ergonomic feel and the product’s ease of use, while ensuring that it utilizes appropriate and cost efficient materials and manufacturing processes.  When you use a wakeboard rack, wireless speakers, or a handle for your yeti, you can bet an Industrial Designer played a critical role in many of the decisions made to create it’s look, feel and function.