Sunday, 5 October 2008

Industrial Design


If you ever wondered what's Common in  iPod, iPhone , MAC OS, Nintendo Wii and some of Google's simpler User Interfaces, It's the industrial design.

Watch this video from Buxton , delivered at Mix08 UK. This is mind blowing stuff. Also check out his research page and a book on Industrial design.

Some quick notes..

1] Where the heck is your designer ?



VP Sales

VP Engineering

VP Marketing ..

? (Where is the designer). Turns out that when Steve Jobs joined apple, within 24 hours,i.e on the very first day, he met the finance, marketing and the whole engineering team and already had a vision. 2 words . of course, It was 'industrial design'. And now you see the results.







An industrial designer is a huge asset to a product company. A guy who knows or rather have to know everything from design concepts to business awareness and usability. Buxton argues that if you don't understand it and your still in business, then probably  you are lucky or your competitors are pathetic.

Another important lesson to learn from Apple is the wide spectrum of things they focus on starting from Industrial design and including every single bit that you can possibly think of. (promotions, marketing, sales, shipping, support, user feedback) The elegant little 'shuffle' which happily resides on millions of shirts across the world is an example.

iphone and ipod's cover flow


Think about it.

Creative design { academic research , enterprise research } ->Vision

Vision { Business awareness } -> Concept

Concept -> Product


2] Innovation

Nintendo Wii



2] Not everyone can be a designer ( but almost everyone you work with thinks that they are!)

3] Atleast, an engineer with depth in business and depth in design ~= Industrial Designer

4] Can you sketch the UI of your phone in 15 seconds ?

5] Architecture and design of a BUILDING


Architecture and design of a Software Product

Where is the analogy ?. Why can't we learn from them ?

Buxton argues that software be blue printed and planned before constructing.(This is where the industrial designer comes into picture). I kinda disagree on this one.

Personally, i think the only important reason why software industry is cost effective compared to manufacturing industries would be the magical world        're-usability'. Again, consider a production pipeline of cars vs software. A badly designed car can incur losses to a company, So does a badly designed software product. But can we use the car's carburetor again ? NO! (may be the design, but the physical component is out there with the user)

How about software ? YES!!!, throw away the bad components, reuse the carburetor component, may be a couple more of them.

" General Industrial Designers are a cross between an engineer and an artist. They study both 'function' and 'form', and the connection between product and the user. They do not design the gears or motors that make machines move, or the circuits that control the movement, but they can affect technical aspects through usability design and form relationships. And usually, they partner with engineers and marketers, to identify and fulfill needs, wants and expectations " - wiki

One such guy i can relate to immediately is Jayanth. happens to be a inspiration and a very good friend of mine. (Jayanth Kannan, Raptor Entertainment)

"Product design and industrial design can overlap into the fields of user interface design, information design and interaction design. Various schools of industrial design and/or product design may specialize in one of these aspects, ranging from pure art colleges (product styling) to mixed programs of engineering and design, to related disciplines like exhibit design and interior design, to schools where aesthetic design is almost completely subordinated to concerns of function and ergonomics of use (the so-called functionalist school)." - wiki

More Links,

A new mantra for creativity - Bill Buxton, Business Week.

Now, Should i say coincidence!


1 comment:

  1. There has never been a study concerning the actual number of women in industrial design. It is general knowledge that the number of women attending design school has gradually increased in recent years but many other factors make even the estimation of the number of women in the field difficult. For instance, not all persons who consider themselves industrial designers practice traditional industrial design.