What Is Industrial Design?

So you’re wondering, “What is Industrial Design?” You’ve come to the right place. The Industrial Designers Society of America is a non-profit membership association dedicated to advocacy, education, community and information in industrial design.

Whether you’re a parent, student, educator or counselor trying to find out more about ID education; someone considering a career in ID; an entrepreneur or a corporation trying to find out just how to jump start your business through industrial design; or another type of designer hoping to partner with designers—this is your one-stop for all things ID. 



Industrial design is a discipline known for creating products and systems that optimize function, value and appearance for the mutual benefit of stakeholders involved. It has thrived in recent years—as the value of industrial design in cross-disciplinary collaboration and innovation efforts is recognized. 

Today, the role of design is expanding beyond traditional boundaries with multifaceted challenges and exposure to complex wicked problems. Designers are now invited early in the process to frame the problem and establish empathy with human-centered intentions. They frequently facilitate projects that require creative sensibility and mapping of holistic sequential experience. Such an immersive shift has resulted in considerable growth in emerging areas of industrial design: design research, UX (user experience) design, integrative design, social impact, entrepreneurship, etc.

It is no surprise that education is affiliated closely with these advancements in ID. The majority of design programs are established around traditional core competencies (ideation, visualization, prototyping and etc.). But more leading-edge content is being delivered in classrooms to ensure concurrent education. These days, students are very familiar with the holistic design approach that encompasses nonlinear inquiry—framing a wide range of design opportunities and developing solutions that offer value propositions. Together, we can cultivate a culture for adaptive creativity that impacts human lives on a global scale.


Scott Shim, IDSA
Education VP, IDSA Board of Directors
Professor of Industrial Design, University of Notre Dame

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