March 5 has been entered into the U.S. Congressional Record as National Industrial Design Day. U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly declared industrial design professionals “improve our lives in every way and are worthy of our recognition.”
In the United States, product design and related services generate billions of dollars in sales and the number of U.S. awarded design patents has reached an all-time high. “The economic impact of this industry helps fuel our nation’s economy,” said Connolly.
In 2015, the day marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), which is the result of the March 5, 1965 merger of several industrial design societies. IDSA is headquartered in Herndon, VA in Rep. Connolly’s 11th Congressional District just outside Washington, D.C.
Industrial designers envision the products that fill homes, offices, hospitals, schools and roads—and serve diverse fields ranging from the environment to entertainment; from social impact to service; from communication to recreation. They work in tandem with engineering, manufacturing, marketing and management leaders to create countless innovations used every day such as computers, mobile phones, music players, appliances, GPS, furniture, child safety seats and surgical equipment.
“Industrial designers work in corporations and consultancies designing products, digital interfaces, environmental graphics, communication systems and much more,” said Charles Austen Angell, chair of IDSA’s Board of Directors. “Industrial design is taught at universities around the world, educating creative, ingenious minds to develop the next great product.”
The U.S. Patent Office first recognized the term “industrial design” in 1913. The profession attracted the attention of the American public in 1927 at the Exposition of Art in Trade in New York City, with the U.S. government hailing the craft as an important “modern movement.”
Design professionals—at the time, mainly architects, package designers and stage designers—focused their creative efforts for the first time on mass-produced products. Later, they were joined by commercial organizations, manufacturers, furniture representatives, crafters, decorative artists, graphic designers, automotive stylists, etc., who used design to make products more efficient, cost effective and relevant.
IDSA has grown from 600 members in 1965—to thousands of members in more than two dozen countries today. Connolly commends IDSA “for being an instrumental force in the growth and expansion” of industrial design.
The Society sponsors one of the world’s most prestigious competitions, known as IDEA, the International Design Excellence Awards, and manages an annual international conference, several district design conferences, professional development programs and scholarships—propelling industrial design from a supporting role to an essential element of global success.