Industrial Design Defined

Design brings stories to life. —Yves Béhar

Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose. —Charles Eames

Good design is making something intelligible and memorable. Great design is making something memorable and meaningful. —Dieter Rams

Industrial designers create and develop concepts and specifications that optimize the function, value, and aesthetics of products, environments, systems, and services for the benefit of user, industry, and society. Industrial design involves combinations of the visual arts disciplines, sciences, and technology, and requires problem-solving and communication skills. —National Association of Schools of Design Handbook

Good design is about making a product or design that serves a function better than anything else that has gone before it. It’s about looking at everyday things with new eyes and working out how they can be made better. —James Dyson

Industrial Design is a strategic problem-solving process that drives innovation, builds business success, and leads to a better quality of life through innovative products, systems, services, and experiences. Industrial Design bridges the gap between what is and what’s possible. It is a trans-disciplinary profession that harnesses creativity to resolve problems and co-create solutions with the intent of making a product, system, service, experience or a business, better. At its heart, Industrial Design provides a more optimistic way of looking at the future by reframing problems as opportunities. It links innovation, technology, research, business, and customers to provide new value and competitive advantage across economic, social, and environmental spheres. —Extended definition ratified by Icsid (now World Design Organization), 2015

Design is the first signal of human intention. —William McDonough

Design is a method of action. —Ray and Charles Eames

Design…is a manifestation of the capacity of the human spirit to transcend its limitations. —George Nelson

Industrial design is the professional service of creating and developing concepts and specifications that optimize the function, value and appearance of products and systems for the mutual benefit of both user and manufacturer. —NC State Industrial Design Program 

Drawing on its historic contribution to responsible, human-centered design, Industrial Design (or ID) teaches students to use critical thinking and the design process itself to bring new value to companies, communities and citizens. Professors with expertise in a wide range of areas guide students in researching user experiences to create well-conceived and executed objects, products and systems that make everyday tasks easier. —Rhode Island School of Design

Product designers improve lives by creating consumer products—from game-changing wearables to life-changing medical devices to everything in between. —Art Center College of Design

An industrial designer typically creates new product ideas or re-designs existing products in a collaborative effort with marketing, engineering, and production teams. Designers create and develop product ideas and then communicate those ideas to clients and production entities through technical drawings, concept and final renderings, mock-ups, models and prototypes. —Department of Industrial Design, Metropolitan State University of Denver

Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service. —Steve Jobs 

Design is about humanity and simplicity—a little help for daily life. —Andree Putman

Good design is not important, it is imperative. Good design costs little more. It is an attitude of the mind.  It is not about cost. —Stuart Lipton

Industrial designers shape our world, from games and gadgets, to bicycles and boats, to highchairs and helmets. —Industrial Design Program, Savannah College of Art & Design

Design is about progress. It is the conceptualization and creation of new things: ideas, interactions, information, objects, typefaces, books, posters, products, places, signs, systems, services, furniture, websites, and more. Designers imagine and make. They also research and think. Skilled in one or more specialties of the discipline, designers use their abilities in collaboration with others. Designers want to make ideas real and to make a difference. A career in design is more than a job. It is a way of seeing; a way of interacting with the world. It is a way of life. —UIC School of Design

Good design is not about the perfect thing anymore but about helping a lot of different people build their own personal identities. —David Kelley

From concept and design, all the way to providing new ideas in the market place, Industrial & Interaction Design utilizes problem-solving innovation to develop and create products, systems, and services, helping businesses succeed and better our quality of life. —Purdue Department of Art and Design

Design is rooted in everyday life, every tap you turn, every doorknob you touch. —Karim Rashid

Industrial designers serve the consumer through sensitive and innovative collaboration with art, science, engineering, anthropology, marketing, manufacturing, and ecology. Industrial designers give form to virtually all mass-manufactured products in our culture. They seek opportunity and advantage through identifying and solving problems. Their creative contributions impact the utility, appearance, and value of our tools, toys, and environment. Their most innovative solutions lie at an intersection of what is knowable and what is possible. —Notre Dame Industrial Design Program

An industrial designer in today’s business world should be a businessman and engineer, and a stylist, and in that order. —Brooks Stevens, 1959

Industrial designers work at the intersection of art, business and technology. They enrich lives by creating objects and systems that reflect our psychological needs and social aspirations, provide order and structure for their companies, and improve our ability to understand, interact with and enjoy our world. —Wentworth Industrial Design Program

The field of design extends far beyond styling. Its boundaries are wider and require a deeper understanding of complex problems, critical thinking skills, interdisciplinary approaches and knowledge of cultural and economic changes in the world. We're not as interested in designing a new chair as we are in proposing a better way of seating. —Product Design Program, College for Creative Studies

There are three basic principles behind any well-designed product:  truth, humanity, and simplicity. —Sohrab Vossoughi

Any well-designed product or experience acknowledges the user.  It's that respect for the used that makes a design great. —Clement Mok

Design is the liberal arts of the information age. —Richard Buchanan

Design defines much of what we do or touch. In part, industrial designers are product designers envisioning, creating, and making things we use. Specifically, they blend art, business and engineering to create, solve problems, add value to our lives, and humanize the objects, processes, services and systems used every day by businesses and consumers. Not only are industrial designers responsible for the creation of beautiful objects, they create objects capable of eliciting emotional responses, directly affecting the quality of life and standard of living for many people throughout the world. —School of Art & Design, New Jersey Institute of Technology

Design is the most comprehensive and richest language on earth; it enriches your life, arouses your emotion and brings the world together. —Vivian Chang Wai Kwan

Industrial design is concerned with the appearance and usefulness of manufactured goods. When creating products, industrial designers think about technical performance, environmental concerns, human comfort, and aesthetics.  —Industrial Design Program, University of Cincinnati

Design has become the public art of our time. —Steven Holt

Design is not so much about the end product as it is about the process. —Clement Mok

Industrial designers are concerned with the way people respond to objects, communicate with others, find pleasure, comfort and safety in activities, and overcome their physical and psychological limitations. Industrial designers are explorers of the values and richness of human knowledge and agents of change and integration, with a passion for cultural, economic, ecological, social, and symbolic value. —Industrial Design Program, Emily Carr University

Industrial designers are the specialists who determine the features, appearance, materials and ergonomics of many products we use daily – from toasters and cell phones to sporting goods and tools. Industrial designers play a vital role on product development teams to ensure the connection between a product and its end user. —Industrial Design Program, Carlton University

By developing products that are innovative, useful, safe, aesthetically appropriate, ecologically sound and socially beneficial, the industrial design profession serves the needs of society, consumers, manufacturers and the environment. —Arizona State University, Design School

Design is a way to understand the world and how you can change it. —Design Museum, London

Design has an important task: to resolve problems, to offer better solutions, to save, and add value to our lives. Development of a new product should always “make sense” in these terms. — Kristiina Lassus

The pursuit of design is not about the way things appear but rather about the way things have meaning and how these things add or detract from the human experience. —Rob Forbes

Today, design lifts everyday objects with form and colors out of the ordinary in a provocative manner. However, innovation takes place only when material and technology enable intuitive operation, and when the products appeal to the soul of man. —Joachim H. Faust

Innovation is only meaningful when it enhances the human experience. Too many times, in both the worlds of product design and architecture, the designer and architect forget that in the final analysis, it’s about the user. —Sam Farber

The urge for good design is the same as the urge to go on living.  The assumption is that somewhere, hidden, is a better way of doing things. —Harry Bertoia

Design, like music, is a deeply human endeavor that on occasion, breaks through the cacophony to communicate on a highly emotional level. —Chee Pearlman

Design is one of the most typical art forms of our time (as well as fashion, photography, music, cinema…). The Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo has called them ‘commercial arts,’ meaning that, opposite from the classic arts, they need the consent of the public. —Alberto Alessi

Design is one of the most forceful influences on behavior and is a part of everything we human beings experience… It's this connection between design, emotion, and behavior that gives design its power. —Penny Bonda

It is always important to me that a product does not just exist in the here and now, but that it shows a way into the future. —Florian Hufnagl

Designers may be the true intellectuals of the future. —Paola Antonelli

Every facet of the design process has to maintain a relationship with the senses.  When you confront an object, you've got to touch it, smell it, listen to it. —Bruno Munari

Design is not beautification. It's a thought process - a non-linear, spatial way of thinking in which connections are made between seemingly unrelated things. —Sohrab Vossoughi

Good design isn’t about making things work better anymore. It’s about making you feel engaged with the present. —Sam Jacobs

Marketing asks the questions, design provides the answers. —Carl Gustav Magnusson

Design is the patterning and planning of any act toward a desired, foreseeable end... any attempt to separate design, to make it a thing-by-itself works, counter to the fact that design is the primary underlying matrix of life. —Victor Papanek

 

To add your own definition to this list, submit your comments to Karen Berube.