Why Industrial Design?

If you’ve known me or read this blog long enough, you’ll know that I have a rather resolute choice of course for university: industrial design. And for the longest time I’ve been asked about it, particularly why I’ve chosen it. I hope to formally address that with this post.


For the longest time, I’ve always been captivated by the idea of creating things. Sure, it can be fulfilling to pursue great discoveries or becoming unfathomably affluent, but there’s something about creating something tangible or useful, as if out of nothing, that really got to me.

 

In kindergarten, I wanted to be a construction worker. As I grew older, I wanted to be an architect. But industrial design captivated me in a way that nothing else could. When I realised that there was a way to make great ideas come to life, it changed the way I saw the world. For the first time I saw the world as a piece of clay, waiting to be moulded into something greater than it already is, and this is exactly what industrial design is to me.


But design isn’t just about creating, it’s about solving. My appreciation for the problem-solving aspect of design came much later, particularly around the time I found out what design really was.

Design is about making sense of the things around you, even if that means having to make sense of the designed object itself.

 

Design is about asking why things are the way they are. More often than not, that means dissecting, tearing things apart in your imagination and thinking about the processes that make things come about. It can either lead to a revelation in the way you perceive the existence of different things, or it can lead to sheer frustration as to why something can’t be made better or more thoughtfully.


But why industrial design? Industrial design is, according to Dictionary.com:

"The art that deals with the design problems of manufactured objects, including problems of designing such objects with consideration for available materials and means of production, of designing packages, bottles, etc., for manufactured goods..."

To me, it sounds like the ultimate enabler of creating things and solving problems in the world today. Think about it. The world runs on manufactured goods. Manufacturing is such a large thing that it usually determines the power economies, thus entire governments and countries, have - take the manufacturing sector in China, for example.

 

The main concern I have with this is that the world is full of bad manufactured goods. They’re poorly designed; they don’t solve problems and are a waste of everyone’s time and money. I think a little bit of care and thorough industrial design can go a long way. Just look at Braun. IKEA. And of course, Apple. They’re not just brands, they’re icons of quality by which everyone else regards as the gold standard. Why?

Thoughtfulness. Deliberation. Design.

 

It’s said, while not too often, that we live in “the golden age of design”. The New York Times Style Magazine puts it rather succinctly:

"The golden age of design has been heralded many times over the past couple of decades — four, by my count. Now, this previous momentum paired with technology, community and big business has fueled something new: an unprecedented belief in the power of design to not only elevate an idea, but be the idea."


 
 

Because of its relevance in society today, because of the contentment that comes from creating things and solving problems like no one else can, and because of the service industrial design fulfils for so many people, I don’t think there’s anything in the world I’d rather do.