Types of Industrial Design

Everything you buy has involved the work of an industrial designer, from bottled water to the bed you sleep on at night. It has been engineered to suit your needs, sense of aesthetics, and budget. Industrial designers give shape and specifications to products and they have been doing so since the Stone Age.

Consider arrowheads and spears. These were tools given form by individuals who saw a way to improve the efficiency of society. Cisterns, vases, and farming tools, as well, were carved and hollowed out by people concerned with adding real value and expanding the potential of the people around them.

The various types of industrial design are defined in large part by the types of products they govern. Each kind of product has its own set of considerations, technical knowledge, and processes. The following resource briefly lists some of the largest divisions in the field, and provides some general information about how one can begin to specify. Often toward the end of classes at many industrial design schools, students start choosing their path, typically from these options. You can train yourself even before attending an advanced-degree institution.

If you already know what kind of manufactured goods you want to work with, then it is a good idea to start investing time and study in that product. You can do this on a superficial level by paying attention to developments in the market. Try picking a handful of companies and following their product lines. You can also take your research to a more technical side by sketching some ideas of your own.

Types of Industrial Design
More than that, you can take specific courses as an undergraduate that will prepare you for the kind of thinking that will be required in your career. These course recommendations are provided below.

Product design is the largest subdivision of industrial design and is therefore not exactly a specialization. Skills needed for this area will be covered broadly by any advanced program in industrial design you could potentially attend. As an undergraduate, taking drawing, art history, and painting classes will provide a great foundation for your continued studies. Additionally, if you can find some part-time work or a summer internship in a design studio, you will place yourself well ahead of the competition.

Toy design involves a unique set of considerations that set it apart from other products and goods. Children see the world differently than adults and they respond to a completely different set of standards regarding features, forms, and functions of the toys they use to entertain themselves. Considering play is perhaps the most prominent difference in the type of thinking a toy designer will implement. As an undergraduate, you can prepare to be a toy designer by taking sculpture, ceramics, painting, drawing, and drafting classes. It also helps to take wood shop, and consumer or family science.

Ergonomist and human-centered design teams work on projects to improve products so that they suit the natural tendencies of the human body. This can include human-centered design. Ergonomists will be useful to a range of products, including furniture and computers. The field usually requires a master’s degree with a focus on biomechanics, psychology, history, mathematics, environment, or writing.

Automotive design team specialists work with large teams of engineers, designers, and marketing researchers to develop specifications for the vehicles of tomorrow. Designers can take one of two routes; either that of an automobile stylist or that of a design engineer. Stylists sketch and resketch potential designs for automotive exteriors and interiors. They develop their results into clay models before moving into plaster, then fiberglass. Design engineers work under the hood, developing specifications and parts. They too go through hundreds of sketches, computer-aided renderings, and detailed drawings. In the final stages, designs will be run through a series of computer tests to gauge how the parts will function under severe stress and normal operating conditions. Undergraduates can prepare by take painting, drawing, design, drafting, automotive shop, and art history classes.

Careers in Industrial Design

  • Airline interior design/styling
  • Transportation design
  • Tool design
  • Stencil making
  • Automobile design
  • Automobile interior design
  • Sports equipment design
  • Design directing
  • Product photographing
  • Safety clothing and equipment design
  • Model building
  • Lighting design
  • Furniture reproduction
  • Glass technology
  • Heavy equipment design

If there is a particular job title that attracts you, you may want to research some of the companies in that field. Then send letters of inquiry to figure out how best to start preparing yourself with the knowledge and technical expertise to succeed.