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If you were asked to envision a Jeep, iPod or Coca Cola bottle, you could do it without a problem, right? That didn’t happen by accident – a skilled industrial designer was behind the scenes, creating that image so that it would stay emblazoned in your mind. You know those times when you think to yourself, “Wow, what a great idea…but how could I ever make it come to life?” Closing that gap is exactly what industrial designers specialize in.
Most industrial designers specialize in one specific industry, like automobiles, housewares or furniture. This career requires imagination, creativity and strong communication skills. A degree in industrial design can get you on the right track. Industrial designers are involved with various aspects of creating a product, from meeting with clients to working alongside engineers in development. The good news is that this type of expertise is always in demand, since new products are constantly being thought up by businesses both large and small.
It’s the industrial designer’s job to create an aesthetically pleasing product that fulfills a need for consumers. From creation to planning and styling, the focus is greatly on how products look. Commodities that require these skills range from cars and electronics to food packaging and even medical equipment.
Aside from aesthetics, a product’s usability and ergonomics have to also be taken into account. From there, function, design and even marketing efforts can be improved. Ultimately, an industrial designer will create a product that is either currently needed by consumers or will be “needed” by consumers after implementing a clever marketing strategy.
Industrial designers work closely with one – or several – specialists in their industry, often including an engineer, accountant and marketer.
1. First, the industrial designer will meet with a client to discuss how to either improve existing products or introduce new ones to the market.
2. Then, the industrial designer will work with the Market Research Department to figure out which characteristics consumers are looking for. This way, each product can visually communicate that it does, in fact, possess the necessary traits.
3. The next step is to sketch various design ideas and present them to the client, who will then choose which idea to move forward with.
4. Before a product can be physically built, virtual mockups are created to show the client a visualization of the final product.
5. Once the client accepts the product, the last step the industrial designer takes is to work with the engineering department to manufacture the item.
The entire process can be lengthy from beginning to end, because it’s not easy to take an incomplete idea and turn it into something that will perform well in the market while staying in line with the client’s original concept.
The minimum education requirement for an industrial designer is a Bachelor Degree in industrial design or a related field, like engineering or architecture. For most entry-level positions, both a completed internship and a work portfolio are required. Often, industrial designers will pursue a Masters Degree in Business Administration, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This is because many clients want the industrial designer to create a product to accompany and benefit their complete business plan. In order to do this, an industrial designer should have knowledge of everything from accounting and project management to marketing. Additional skills that an industrial designer should have in order to compete in their field include drawing, creativity, technical knowledge, sense of color, working knowledge of balance and proportion, and solid communication skills.