The industrial revolution was one of the best things that could have happened to mankind. The advent of machinery, mechanized production and mass processing of goods allowed for a new way of life. The revolution was a paradigm shift that created many new opportunities and specialties; one of them was the field of industrial design. Every thing that is a product of industrial processes has the touch of an industrial designer. Without this important player, most products we use today may not exist. Industrial design incorporates artful and scientific processes that results in functional products that are marketable and provide solutions to common problems. It is the first step in industrial mass production systems where every idea needs to be shaped into a design, which can be easily replicated in an industrial environment. Although mechanization and industry have a long and illustrious history, it is believed that the term ‘industrial design,’ was not used until around the 1920s. It was attributed to Joseph Claude Sinel who was a true pioneer in the field with hundreds of designs attributed to him. It is said that Sinel had designed everything from beer bottles to calculators and it is he who set up the first industrial design company in 1936.
Since then, the field has expanded and advanced, and has become synonymous with engineering and by some, it is even referred to as engineering design. It is a specific career field that requires the study of various design methodologies and technical subjects. Industrial design usually involves a lot of experimentation, trial, error, and redesign. Eventually, completed products should be perfect in all aspects, from color to ergonomics and function. It encompasses an intricate knowledge of materials and a need for creativity as well as a lot of technical knowledge. Industrial designers often use computer applications, mostly 3-D modeling software, in what is known as computer aided industrial design. A design team usually comes up with new concepts or improvements on existing concepts. Often, a thorough comparative survey has to be done, taking into consideration similar products in the market. Once the team is satisfied with the viability of the concept, it is put on paper by creating sketches, schematics and models. The team will also have to work with groups of engineers and other specialists in order to create a collaborative process that will result in a prototype. Thorough testing follows, and ensures that flaws are detected and fixed, often, if necessary, the whole design process must be repeated until the final product is acceptable for consumer use.
As an integral process within manufacturing, industrial design has a permanent and important place in every industrialized process. In the US, About 29% of industrial designers are employed in the manufacturing sector, and find themselves engaged in design activity on a full time basis. This is a robust sector that requires and depends on professional services from skilled designers. Large corporations and manufactures often have high demand for experienced designers who stand out not only in terms of skill, but also creativity. Consultancy or private practice in the field is also a very enticing venture. Industrial design is a reasonably technical field to delve into and often involves the study of quite a variety of disciplines in both science and art. In spite of this, it is a rewarding profession. On average, experienced designers may earn an annual median wage of about $60,000.
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