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Institute of Business and Finance

Industrial designers may broadly be defined as artists with sufficient technical knowledge to appreciate the problems and needs of a particular branch of industry. The scope and nature of the industrial designer's work varies from one field of design and one industry to another. It normally has to fulfill at least two functions, usually more. It must look right and it must serve its purpose satisfactorily. A toaster or a fridge must work well, look good and be durable; a chair or any other piece of furniture must look attractive, be easy to maintain and serve the purpose for which it is made.


Industrial designers usually work in teams. The designer is in charge of a number of assistants and works in close contact with them and often for other experts such as engineers, marketing experts, and buyers. Designers must fully understand the purpose of the product they are designing, the marketing and economic problems involved, and the manufacturing techniques. They must also know the limitations and potentialities of the materials and machines at their disposal, and must be able to produce designs within a given budget.

Designers work in various settings. An increasing number of manufacturing firms have their own design departments. Many firms of consultant designers specialize in one type of design -furniture design, ceramic design, product design, textile design -while others go in for all kinds of design, with several chief designers, each a specialist in a particular field.

Many designers start off as freelancers, either on their own or with one or two partners. But it is essential for any designer to join an organization for a few years to gain experience of the practical work environment and to learn how to deal with clients.

The field of industrial design offers specialization in:

Product design: In this category the work includes the design of all kinds of consumer goods (for example, domestic appliances, or suitcases) as well as the design of machine tools and mechanical equipment, or trains and cars. Designers in this field of specialization work together with engineers, who in the past did their own designing. They must, therefore, understand engineering processes, methods and problems.

Experienced designers often specialize in designing one type of product, such as kitchen equipment, or plastic utensils. But beginners try to gain as wide an experience as possible of manufacturing processes and materials.

Textile design: Under this branch one can specialize in printed and woven textiles, carpets, wall papers, plastic surface coverings, etc. Thorough technical knowledge of materials, machines and manufacturing methods is essential. Textile designers may work on their own and take their designs to manufacturers or they may work in the design department of manufacturers of textiles and furnishings.

Ceramic design: Here, the work involves designing of goods made of ceramic for decorative purposes such as pottery or porcelain figurines, and for utilitarian purposes such as tableware, sanitary ware, and light fittings. The designer must appreciate the aesthetic and utilitarian aspects and design the item accordingly. A thorough understanding of the techniques of manufacturing and the use of materials is required. There is scope for working in the manufacturing unit or one can opt for freelancing.

Furniture design: This particular field involves designing furniture for homes, offices, factories/ workplaces with different types of materials such as wood, ply board, plastic, steel, iron and many others. The items designed must be in tune with the prevailing trends, and also utilitarian and affordable for the type of market it is meant for. Designers have to update their knowledge of the different types of materials available, the technology relating to their optimal use, techniques of construction, and other contemporary needs. Furniture designers can function independently or set up a firm with a group of like- minded designers. They can specialize in furniture for a particular use - office furniture systems -or they may have different departments designing furniture for various uses. They may also venture into retailing of brand furniture.

Personality Traits

All careers in the field of design require resilience, self-confidence and exceptional talent.

Industrial designers require creative sensibility and imagination coupled with a logical and analytical mind; an interest in science and technology; curiosity and a desire to solve technical problems; perseverance; an interest in the social environment and in the community's needs, tastes and customs; the ability to work well as one of a team and to take responsibility as well as criticism; willingness to lower one's artistic standards on occasion in the interests of economic necessity or technical efficiency; manual dexterity; business sense; and the ability to communicate with employers and clients who commission the work but are possibly not themselves interested in art.

Placements/ Prospects

As in all creative work, success depends on ability, luck, personality and many other variables such as current tastes/ trends and business/ economic conditions. In the present business environment, careers in design offer good prospects. There is a growing demand for more goods, fresh designs, better and sleek looks, optimum functional utility, handiness, comfort -the list is endless.

The textile industry, the electrical goods industry, the consumer goods industry, the furniture industry, and the ceramic goods industry are looking for professional designers who can create a better look for their products and help to innovate. Beginners in manufacturing units may start with monthly emoluments of RS 8000 plus as designers. Design consultants can earn good profits. In this career personal caliber makes all the difference between success and failure.

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