Product and Industrial Design are terms that have become interchangeable, especially for those who don’t live and breathe these terms the way we do. Although there are many finer points of distinction between them, the write-up below by Will Gibbons ( Product Designer and Design blogger) simply sums up the similarities and the differences these two fields share. So the next time someone asks you the question of what do you design, do redirect them to this article for better understanding!
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The definition and differentiation of industrial design and product design are debated, confused and sometimes vary given the context in which they’re used. Because many who visit this website may wonder why one term is used rather than the other, we’re going to take a deep dive and hopefully bring some clarity to the topic.
Let’s begin with a macro definition and progress to a micro level. We’ll start with a generic and practical explanation and end up arguing the semantics of the two, which should be fun. Maybe I’ll even ruffle a few feathers along the way. Also, I’ll break up each level of differentiation just to simplify things.
For all intents and purposes, industrial design and product design are the same damn thing! A product designer and industrial designer play nearly identical roles professionally and share virtually the same goals. If you’d like to, go ahead and use the titles interchangeably as the general public doesn’t know the difference.
That said, each connotes a different idea of what the designer does. To many, industrial design sounds more technical and engineering-based. Alternatively, product design sounds more straight-forward and simple… one who designs products. Of course, the connotation of each is totally subjective and depends entirely on the previous experiences of the person you’re talking to.
Now, to draw some distinction, we’ll establish that industrial design is a field of study as well as a career path. Many colleges offer Bachelors and Masters Degrees in industrial design, and when a company wants to hire a designer who graduated from an industrial design program, the employer will advertise an industrial design position. Industrial design programs at schools are often divided into more specialized majors such as automotive, transportation and product design as was the case with the college I attended (CCS). At this level, product design is one of the various occupations an industrial designer may choose to pursue.
Based upon the above, all product designers are industrial designers but not all industrial designers are product designers.
Industrial Design — an Abridged History
Back before many of us were born, objects were hand-crafted and cost much more to produce, which prevented most people from consuming at the level we do today. The industrialization of production made mass-production possible. Mass-production is how a product can be made in high volume at a low cost through a heavily automated process. Think of Henry Ford’s production line, which allowed his factory to crank out vehicles faster than ever before. The same thing happened to household products such as furniture, ceramics, tools, electronics and appliances. Prior to having a process that allowed for such high-volume production the cost per unit and production time of products didn’t matter much. When the mass-production became the goal, cost-per-unit, production time and efficiency surrounding the entire process became key to offering affordable products to the masses.
The need for engineers to optimize this whole process became clear, but lowering the price of a good wasn’t the only way to make a sale. Norman Bel Gedes is often credited with bringing sleek design to products that didn’t need to be sleek and sexy, but the result was that these beautiful products sold! It wasn’t long before the aesthetics of products were considered as important as function at the mass-production scale. Prior to the industrial design era, designers were artists and craftspeople. Primarily focused on creating quality objects that looked as good as they were built, designers weren’t designing for the masses, but were crafting low-production goods that were very expensive.
Now that mass-produced goods could be made, how do you get people to replace items that still worked just fine with newer versions? Designers filled the role of creating incentives for consumers to buy the new mass-produced products by adding features such as improving ergonomics, aesthetics and functionality. They did this through their knowledge of design. In order to increase sales, companies began hiring industrial designers to continually design new versions of the same products and sell them to customers year after year.
Product Design — an Abridged History
Alright, so there isn’t really a distinct history of product design, since separating it from industrial design is impossible. Over the years, designers or companies have chosen to use the term ‘product design’ rather than industrial design as it’s slightly more specific than the vast field of industrial design.
As previously mentioned, product design is a specialized field within the broader spectrum of industrial design. product designers are often hired to design everything except for vehicles. Vehicle design (land, air and water) is a field that has its own traditions and practices and often prefers to hire designers who have specialized in automotive or transportation design. This leaves virtually everything else up to product designers. Today, software or digital products as well as services are often in the territory of product designers. In some cases, product design includes a sub-field of specialists called engineering designers. Given the common goals and roles played by the field of industrial design and product design, using one term instead of the other certainly leads to confusion for some. The field of product design and industrial design do overlap and sometimes the distinction between the two isn’t so clear.
I like to think that product designers are responsible for the design of household and consumer products, whereas commercial products are often designed by specialists such as aircrafts, architects and automobiles. I understand though, that there will always be exceptions.
Some will think I wasted a whole bunch of words trying to distinguish between the indistinguishable. Perhaps. I just wanted to provide some contest to shed light on exactly why there is often times confusion between the two terms, product design and industrial design. The simplest way to bring clarity to an often ambiguous set of definitions is this:
Industrial design is the profession responsible for elevating function and aesthetics to all things manufactured. Product design is one of many niches within industrial design often defined by the kinds of products it designs. Just like a dentist is a specialist within the larger medical field.
The original write up byhere.
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The irony of me being an Asian posing this question doesn’t escape me. I fully get that I’m absolutely following the cliche here, but let’s stop and really think about it. I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this too at some point of time. Do I continue doing what I love, if it doesn’t pay me much? Or do I do something that I absolutely dislike, but feels more stable?
HOW BIG SHOULD I DREAM? (AND, SHOULD I HAVE A BACKUP PLAN?)
Let’s just dive right into the topic and get to the point I’d like to make, and that Chris Do (in the video above) makes too. Chris says “If you don’t feel it in your bones, don’t waste your time. I know people who pursued money, who aren’t happy… and who aren’t rich”. Here’s a secret that most people won’t tell you: You’re not presented with a choice. You’re presented with the illusion of choice… Passion/love, and money/stability. You can choose to do something you love… but you can’t really choose how much money you make. The amount you earn isn’t entirely within your control, but the ability to do something you truly enjoy, is. Your pay-package is controlled by external forces. Passion for what you do, is completely internal.
(And everything is linked to one big parameter. Effort. More on it below!)
YOUR BACKUP PLAN IS SOMEONE ELSE’S DREAM
Here’s a scenario. You’re a passionate designer who sketches every day. Follows Ted Nugent on Instagram, participates in the Render Weekly challenges and is always on the lookout for Esben Oxholm’s Keyshot videos, or Sam Gwilt’s sketching tutorials. Your dream is to work as an industrial designer in one of the world’s most reputed design studios, but on the other hand, there are a tonne of UI UX jobs available that pay a lot and provide a comfortable life. The flipside is that somewhere, there’s someone who’s equally passionate about Web Design. They’re on Dribbble, always updated with everything UI/UX, and dreams of being a top-notch UI/UX designer. What’s worth noting is that if you’re pitted against them, there’s a massive chance that they’ll outgrow you professionally. UI/UX is your backup plan, but it’s their passion. They’re constantly bettering themselves, going for conferences, learning the latest tricks, staying up to date with all the news that makes them better in their field, whereas you’re doing it for the paycheck. You see the big flaw there? If you’re not passionate about it, you’re not going to put in the effort it takes to be the best, and to subsequently earn the most.
There’s a video out there (quite oddly titled “Don’t follow your passion”) by Mark Cuban where Cuban’s words somewhere after the 20-second mark go something like this, “The things I ended up being really good at, were the things I found myself putting effort into”. Cuban, although outwardly ‘against following one’s passion’ ends up making the point everyone is trying to make. The things you find yourself putting the time and effort into, are the things you become really good at. And nobody quits something they’re good at, because people inherently always crave, and enjoy being the best at something. That’s ultimately passion, right?
The moral really is that you can’t choose to make big money off of doing something you don’t enjoy. That isn’t a sustainable business model, because ultimately, it isn’t something you want to do! You can, however, choose to do something you love. Something you look forward to doing everyday. Something you’ll eventually get better and better at because you’re putting in the effort… because you want to!
Video Credits: Chris Do | The Futur
With a little help from our friends at the Red Dot Design Awards, we’re kicking off the Chinese New Year with 8 award-winning designs from Chinese designers curated from the past year’s Red Dot Awards. Wishing all our readers a wonderful and bountiful ‘year of the pig’, from the YD family to yours.
01. Segway Ninebot Gokart Kit by Bowen Cai, Yongjie Li, Ji Lin
Imagine if you could take your hoverboard, add two more tires and a steering wheel to it and fashion a go-kart for yourself. Why that’s what the Segway Ninebot is. Designed as an attachment to the $499 Segway Mini Pro, the Ninebot turns a last-mile commutation device into a fun, electric go-kart that can be driven around practically anywhere! The company claims that the Segway-Ninebot electric gokart can accelerate from 0 to 12 mph (20 km/h) in under 2 seconds and can support riders of up to 220 lbs.
02. Build-Fender by Chen Chi-Shan
The Build Fender is part architectural marvel, part massive eco-system. Inspired by how biological cells work together to clean and sustain a system, the Build Fender skyscraper imagines different ‘cell components’ in a building that have different functions and effects. When combined, they create a building that works around-the-clock like a living ecosystem that minimizes its impact on the environment and actively purifies the air that passes through it on a massive scale.
03. Knitting Lounger by Liang Chen, Ma Qianli
Inspired by a type of Asian knitting handicraft that integrates aesthetics and functionality, the designers made full use of the merits of knitting and created this ergonomic outdoor furniture. The concept of knitting delivers a sense of interweaving and the ropes used for knitting are made from a water-proof material, requiring less maintenance and upkeep.
04. Forseti Axe by Tony Chui Pak Ho
Designed as a modern take on the axe, the Forseti relooks the axe’s basic construction of a handle and a blade. The new design looks much more integrated, but what’s interesting is how the blade is designed as a plug-in-plug-out module that fits almost flush into the metal handle, creating an almost monolithic product that can always be repaired/maintained by simply switching blade-pieces by discarding the old blade and plugging in a new one!
05. SHO by Pan Biwei
Practically a hallmark of simplicity and effectiveness, the Sho is made of literally two parts. A frame and a mattress. However, it can exist in three states. As a bed (with the mattress used as-is), as a comfortable chair, and as a reclining lounge chair. The SHO works well as instant furniture, be it in low-cost apartments, or at disaster relief sites. The metal framework is foldable, and when opened out, allows you to tuck the mattress into it, turning it either into a comfortable chair with a backrest, or into a lounging recline you can lean into. Independently, the mattress serves as a bed for one, allowing you to have three pieces of furniture that use just two simple objects.
06. Fu-Chair by Wei-Chen Chang, Pei-Chun Hsueh, Po-Wei Tsai, Zhen-Ling You
Fu-Chair’s brilliance is in its duality. Designed as two chairs stacked upside down on each other, the Fu-Chair can either be used as one single chair with armrests (and a storage space for books below the seat) or as two separate stools. Ingenious, eh?!
07. Cloud Cooker Hood by Jin Ze, Ye Tian, Zhang Haonan, Zhu Lingjie
Inspired by traditional Chinese paper-cutting art, the Cloud Cooker Hood uses undulating sheets to form a hood that looks flat when closed, and turns into an organic chimney/hood when open, allowing fumes to exit the kitchen while also adding a touch of aesthetics to the decor of the room.
08. Connect by Li Enxin, Miao Xinyi, Tao Zhixiang , Wang Fubing, Zhang Jing
Created for the kindergarten environment, the Connect is a fun table-setup that allows you to join or separate desks based on need. Connecting plates allow you to create different sort of patterns that immediately turn the kindergarten into a place of fun, allowing kids to experiment with forms and layouts, while also improving their dexterity and understanding of furniture and of puzzles. Having the Connect in any kindergarten will automatically make it a place of learning and a place of fun!
The interweb has been buzzing with a certain piece of news leaked by the Wall Street Journal only last week. Motorola plans to build a 2019-appropriate version of their iconic Razr phone. Details are incredibly scarce, and the only taste of the phone we’ve got is via images from their patent registration with the World Intellectual Property Organisation in December 2018.
The 3D visualization of the 2019 Razr bases itself on these patents. The new Razr will be more squarish (when closed) than its predecessors, but that’s only because it comes with a flexible folding display that runs all the way from the top to the bottom, with what we can only assume is an aspect ratio of 19:8, along with curved edges and even a notch (the notch design has always been a part of the Razr series, if you recall). Flip the phone on its back and you see the secondary display and the single-lens camera on the upper half of the phone, and a fingerprint sensor on the lower half. The presence of two screens means you can A. use the camera as both a front and backwards facing shooter, as well as B. access the phone’s notifications without opening out the flexible display. There’s no word on whether the secondary display will be touch-enabled. There’s also the absence of volume buttons in the patent drawing (and subsequently left out of the visualization), as well as a power button, but given the phone’s flip nature, I doubt we’d need a power button on this beaut.
Through the years, the Razr has always been a symbol of cutting-edge futurism. Unsettlingly thin when it launched, the Moto Razr was an immediate object of desire, with its slim profile, and the fact that it was probably the only phone to come bundled with iTunes long before Apple closed their ecosystem. The 2019 Razr builds on that philosophy, retaining the slim profile, and introducing a new bit of futuristic tech, with the flexible display. A rare combination of cutting-edge (wordplay!) innovation and fond nostalgia, the Razr 2019 could easily be this year’s most awaited phone (and the year’s just begun!)
Designer/Visualization: Sarang Sheth
Named as Pantone color of the year for 2019, Living Coral is an animating and life-affirming coral hue that signifies light-heartedness and positivity. The color is the kind that instantly makes one happy, with its touch of vibrance and warmth, and the minute you add it to a product, it stands out. Companies have, for long, used the coral color to make products look and feel youthful, and to make them add a splash of color to a space. Living Coral’s beauty especially lies in the fact that it goes well in any domain, fashion, interiors, consumer electronics, or even appliances. Heck, I’d wager that a Ferrari with a Living Coral paint job would look absolutely dope too. Almost a month into 2019, we’re here to take a look at ten of our favorite products that have wholeheartedly embraced Coral as a hue, using it wholly, or in part, to create a product that stands out, and looks great while doing so!
01. Apple Watch Series 4 Nectarine Sports Loop
The Nectarine Sports Loop (along with the Watch Series 4) came just weeks before Pantone debuted their color of the year, and it’s almost as if Apple either knew, or they had some spectacular CMF Designers who just happened to feel that the color absolutely did justice to the Watch. There’s a silicone version of the Nectarine band too, but we prefer this woven nylon loop that’s breathable yet sweat-resistant. And it’s compatible with all versions of the Apple Watch!
02. Google Home & Home Mini (Living Coral Edition)
The coral version of Google’s smart speakers were released shortly after Pantone announced the color of 2019. While the Mini comes completely coated in the Living Coral hue (with a rather remarkable contrast between the woven texture on top and the hard plastic at the bottom), the Google Home does a dual-tone, with white on top, and the addition of a detachable coral fabric grille at the bottom. Don’t make me pick favorites. I like them both.
03. Urbanears Plattan Coral On Ear Headphones
The tragedy of these headphones is that Urbanears only produced the Coral edition as a limited run. I still maintain that the Plattan headphones look absolutely heavenly in their coral color, treading a fine line between sporty and fashionable with a color that isn’t as red as the Beats headphones, but is the perfect hue to look absolutely dapper. Yes, dapper’s the word.
04. Retroduck Q Wireless Charging Dock
Unlike its previous, wired version, the Retroduck Q comes with two changes. Firstly, the dock works wirelessly, charging your phones simply by placing them on the retro TV-esque stand… and secondly, the Retroduck Q ditches its ancestor’s more orange-heavy color for a delightful coral version, or as they call it, Carmine Red. The Retroduck Q just finished its round of crowdfunding and is still under development at the time of writing this article. We’ll be sure to drop a link when they’re ready to buy online!
05. Kvell Pop Clock
Rather strangely titled Pop, the Kvell clock actually comes in a single color, making it quite the opposite of pop… but it makes up for that with the use of such an incredibly rich hue that I’m sure it’ll pop off any wall you mount it on. I’d recommend a white or light teal colored backdrop for this beauty. Even a light blue would work, given that corals are originally found against a backdrop of oceanic blue.
06. Dot&Bo Coral Pantone Clock
While most products embrace a hue, Dot&Bo’s Coral Pantone Clock embraces the entire shade card! With multiple hues arranged around the face of the clock, Dot&Bo’s timepiece is much more subtle than Kvell’s Pop Clock. After all, in-your-face vibrant decor isn’t for all homes.
07. Vespa Coral Visor 2.0 Helmet
Vespa, the brand, stands on two pillars. Retro-Italian design, and an absolutely delicious color palette. The Visor 2.0 helmet has its share of both. Designed to pair perfectly with the adorable Italian legend-of-a-scooter, the Visor 2.0 Coral helmet will protect your brain and will blow the brains of pedestrians as they catch a glimpse of the Coral-colored helmet blurring past. Pairs well with a coral colored Vespa and the Italian countryside. Both sold separately.
08. Hip Bottle by Karim Rashid
Rashid was using vibrant hues like Coral long before Pantone named it the color of the year. A major part of Karim Rashid’s design legacy is his use of CMF as an absolute weapon. Take the Hip Bottle for instance. Add any other pastel color to the Hip Bottle and chances are it probably won’t stand out. Its form is simple, and the bottle isn’t as edgy as most sports bottles out there… but carefully drop the Coral hue on it and the Hip looks stunning. Also available in 5 other colors that don’t match up to the sheer beauty of the Coral variant.
09. Bird of Paradise (2018) by KitchenAid
I could totally imagine myself walking into a kitchen with a tropical teal wallpaper with pineapple graphics on it, and surrounded by KitchenAid’s coral-colored appliances. Kitchenaid, in fact, began its own Color of the Year series last year, and believe it or not, Coral was their color of the year for 2018. Titled the Bird of Paradise, the entire collection of kitchen appliances sports the beautiful coral hue, right from the range of blenders to the stand mixer that I personally love most, probably because of its distinctive design, and my obsession for meringues (what, I’m human).
10. Pantone Color of the Year Mug (2019)
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a product from Pantone’s own catalog. Every year, along with their announcement of the COTY (Color of the Year), Pantone also releases their own merchandise, from notebooks to thumb drives to mugs, that feature the Color of the Year in its Pantone-branded color accuracy. The mugs, however, are a standout because notebooks are too basic and thumb drives are practically obsolete. Besides, look at that mug and tell me it isn’t simply the most eye-catching mug ever.
Leaks have become a very common part of Apple’s launch process. When you’re as big as Apple is, it’s difficult to keep everyone quiet. Somewhere in some part of the world, a factory worker clicks a picture of the iPhone Gorilla Glass being prototyped, or the aluminum frame being machined, and the rumors spread like wildfire. Helping bring some sort of depth to these rumors are concept phone designers, who quickly put together renders that, after a couple of rumors, end up looking exactly like the new phone. Apple’s made peace with this, because not only is it inevitable, but it also helps their end-users get accustomed to the design long before the release, creating a wave of hype that builds up to the phone launch.
On the other hand you’ve also got concept designers who don’t just simply follow trends. They add a bit of their own expectations to these concepts, creating designs that may seem outlandish, but are well received for their imagination and creativity. It’s perhaps because of these designers we’re still anticipating things like transparent smartphones, or smartphones that wrap around your wrist (Lenovo went and even built one!)
In this article, we’ll take a look at a mix of both the approaches. Two realistic ones that base themselves entirely on reliable leaks, and one that turns things up a notch, no pun intended!
Right below is a visualization by Concept Creator, who’s given the iPhone back its 2011-style aluminum side-frame and signature chamfered edge (like the iPhone 4). Also on board the concept 2019 iPhone is a staggering 5 cameras. 3 on the back, arranged in a linear style, and two on the front, with a double punch design that sort of forms a successor to the notch. The centralized camera system allows you to have portrait-mode shots with your front facing camera too, and could even carry FaceID if the technology supported it. Its location isn’t desirable, but it’s much better than the notch, and the side-hole-punch we’re seeing in the upcoming Huawei and Samsung phones. The glass back on the concept would suggest that the new phone is aggressively pushing the gospel of wireless charging, while it’s hard to tell whether the concept sticks to the Lightning connector or opts for the Type-C connection.
Probably one of the most reliable visualizations come from the twitter handle of Ben Geskin, a young, 20-something designer from Latvia. Geskin’s twitter handle is pretty much a catalog of concept phones based on leaks, from Samsung and Huawei to OnePlus and to Apple. Geskin updates his renders with each subsequent leak, and his final renders almost always match the launches, even down to the color options. His take on the 2019 iPhone is that the phone will pretty much look the same, except for two key differences. One, the back of the phone will have 3 cameras and a flash, and two, Apple will aggressively try to reduce the notch by pushing the speaker module out of it. Looking at the back of the phone, it’s somewhat disconcerting to see how the cameras are laid out asymmetrically (Apple takes perfection almost too seriously, so this is worrisome). The three cameras are arranged in a triangular format, inside a square-shaped camera bump. The flash and the video microphone find themselves struggling for space in this layout and get placed at extremely awkward spots. I doubt Apple would green-light this, but only time will tell. It’s good to see that the notch is made to be significantly narrower now, although once again, not desirable.
And lastly, we have Michael Mojica’s outlandish iPhone that does things we’d expect from Android… modularity. While the world wonders whether the iPhone will have 2, 3, or 5 cameras, Mojica says it can have as many as it wants to. Built with swappable camera modules, Mojica’s 2019 iPhone is customizable to have a primary camera that’s as powerful as you want it. The camera modules magnetically click into their place at the upper-center of the iPhone’s back (an unusual move because every iPhone has had a camera on the top-left), connecting to the smartphone through contact points… much like the kind of experiments Motorola, Essential, and RED have done with modularity in their smartphones. Depending on the price you pay, you can choose anywhere from a 3-lens camera setup to a 6-lens camera setup, allowing you to take stunning photographs that are worthy of the #shotoniphone hashtag!
Cover Photo Credits: OnLeaks x DigitIndia
The mythical tale of the perfect wedding! Most of us have at least once, imagined ourselves getting married, from the most picture perfect pastel scenario to the most daredevil version of ourselves that can ever be. Given the latest Insta-worthy demand, people are certainly going the extra mile to get some unique, envy-inspiring, photo-ops!
Adding to your bucket list, we have an artist inspired wedding scenario in Las Vegas that looks like it has stepped out from the artist’s sketchpad. It’s not a Photoshop job, it’s an actual chapel designed by Graphic Designer and Visual Artist Joshua Vides. And trust me, the images of this place will leave you slightly dazed as you try to figure out how this work actually came about. The Palms Casino Resort has just opened an 800-square-foot pop-up wedding chapel named “Till Death Do Us Part”, naming it one of the most social media-friendly places in Vegas to get hitched.
Known for his black and white take on everyday objects and surroundings, Joshua’s style brings back the old-school sketching that beautifully arouses childlike curiosity while standing tall and stark in its territory. Using thick black lines and pure white paint, this pop-up is a part of his latest art series ‘Reality to Idea’. Speaking about his series, Joshua states, “When the ‘Reality to Idea’ concept came to life in March 2017, it was because I needed to make a drastic change with my creative abilities. I had to pivot my expression,” he said. “I didn’t create the concept for Instagram, but once I painted the first object and held [it in my] hand, I immediately recognized Instagram as the vehicle.”
He added: “I believe that social media is a tool. Some use it correctly and some for leisure. I like to look at social platforms the same way I look at my toolbox. What can I accomplish and express today with what I have right here in front of me that can make an impact.”
Inspired by the people taking photos with the art display at their hotel, Tal Cooperman, the Creative Director of Palms, decided he wanted to create a better immersive experience to enthuse the guests. To create the chapel, Vides uses a metal skeleton with a wooden exterior, with white surfaces covered in thick black lines that shape out the perspective and mark the doors, windows, benches, pulpit as well as the decorations.
The installation will be open to the public from 18th January for photo-shoots as well as to hold an actual ceremony. Packages for rent takes a cheeky twist with names like the “Our Marriage Looks Perfect — On Instagram” package, which costs $250, allows for an hour in the chapel to take all of the social media photos your heart desires. And while all of it is fun, it also holds up a mirror to the tide of influence Instagram is having over the design and architecture space, with imagination closely intertwining with reality. Till Death Do Us Part from social media, indeed!
Designer: Joshua Vides at The Palms Casino Resort