What are the 4 types of industrial design? Find out now!

Industrial design is a specialized field that involves the creation of desirable and functional products through a combination of creative and technical skills. The Design Garage has come up with four classifications of industrial design that are common in the industry. These include:
  • Commercial Design – This type of industrial design involves creating products that are aimed at solving specific consumer problems. Commercial designers take into consideration factors such as ergonomics, aesthetics, and affordability while designing their products.
  • Responsible Design – This form of industrial design emphasizes social and environmental responsibility. Responsible designers create products that benefit society without compromising the environment. They employ sustainable materials and methods in their production processes to reduce waste and minimize environmental impact.
  • Experimental Design – This industrial design subtype focuses on innovative and experimental techniques in the production of new products. Experimental designers mix unusual materials and concepts to create novel and unique items. Their work is often seen as daring and avant-garde, exploring the boundaries of industrial design.
  • Discursive Design – This form of industrial design uses alternative, non-traditional methods to create products that provoke critical thinking and reflection. Discursive designers use their designs to comment on social and cultural issues, promoting critical discourse or even acting as a form of activism.
  • These four types of industrial design serve as a useful guide for anyone interested in this field. Each classification requires different sets of skills and methods, but all share the common goal of producing innovative, functional products that make a difference in people’s lives.
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    Industrial Design Defined

    Industrial Design is the process of designing consumer products, which are manufactured on a massive scale. It involves combining art and science to create functional, stylish, and appealing products. The goal of industrial design is to create products that are aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, and produced at a low cost. In recent years, the scope of industrial design has expanded, and it now includes creating products that are environmentally sound and sustainable. Designers work in a wide range of industries, from automotive and electronics to toys and household items.

    Commercial Design: Designing for Mass Production

    Commercial Design is about creating products for mass production. It is most often used for consumer goods, such as furniture, appliances, and electronics. The products are typically designed to be produced in high volumes, making them cost-effective for consumers. Commercial designers consider the materials, manufacturing processes, and consumer needs to create products that are functional and affordable. They also focus on creating products that are visually appealing and can stand out in a crowded market. Key Point: Commercial designers need to consider consumers’ needs, manufacturing processes, and materials to make products that are functional, affordable, and aesthetically pleasing.

    Examples of Commercial Design:

    • iPhone
    • IKEA furniture
    • Samsung TV
    • Dyson vacuum cleaner

    Responsible Design for a Sustainable Future

    Responsible Design, also known as sustainable design, is a type of industrial design that focuses on creating products that are environmentally sustainable. This includes using recycled materials, reducing waste, and minimizing the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process. Day by day, conscious consumers choose products that are environmentally responsible, so responsible design is more important than ever.
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    Responsible design also considers the social and economic impacts of production. Producers focus on ensuring that workers in the supply chain are treated fairly, that the local communities are not negatively impacted, and that the production process is cost-effective. Key Point: Responsible design aims to create products that are environmentally sustainable, socially responsible, and cost-effective.

    Examples of Responsible Design:

    • Solar-powered street lights
    • Bamboo furniture
    • Reusable water bottles made of recycled plastic
    • Efficient LED lightbulbs

    Experimental Design: Pushing the Boundaries of Creativity

    Experimental design is about pushing the boundaries of what is possible and creating products that are unique and innovative. It often involves creating prototypes and testing new materials and manufacturing processes. Products created through experimental designs are often one-of-a-kind or produced in limited quantities. While experimental design doesn’t always result in products that are mass-produceable, its results are often implemented into other design fields to create products that are more innovative and effective. Key Point: Experimental design focuses on pushing the boundaries of creativity by creating products that are unique and innovative.

    Examples of Experimental Design:

    • 3D printed clothing
    • Interactive installations at art exhibits
    • Concept cars and motorcycles
    • Wearable technology

    Discursive Design: Designing to Spark Conversations

    Discursive design is the use of design to spark conversations and encourage people to think critically about the world around them. It aims to initiate a dialogue between the audience and the product by presenting a challenge or problem to be solved. Discursive design often tackles social, political, and ethical issues and is not intended to solve a problem but to initiate a conversation.
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    Key Point: Discursive design aims to start a conversation and foster critical thinking by presenting a challenge or problem to be solved.

    Examples of Discursive Design:

    • A poster campaign about water conservation
    • Interactive art installations aimed at promoting social justice
    • A 360-degree video about climate change
    • A product that challenges traditional gender roles

    Examples of Industrial Design in Daily Life

    Industrial design is ubiquitous in our daily lives. From the electronic devices we use to the furniture we sit on, industrial design shapes our daily experiences. Have a look at these industrial design examples in our daily lives:
    • AirPods headphones
    • Smartphones and laptops
    • Cars and motorcycles
    • Office chairs and desks
    • Light fixtures and lamps
    • Home appliances, from coffee makers to refrigerators
    Overall, Industrial design encompasses a wide range of products, from mass-produced items to experimental prototypes. Each category of industrial design has its own goals and challenges, but industrial design as a whole aims to create products that are functional, aesthetic and cost-effective.

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