DS 95: Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2019), University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. 12th -13th September 2019

Year: 2019
Editor: Bohemia, Erik; Kovacevic, Ahmed; Buck, Lyndon; Brisco, Ross; Evans, Dorothy; Grierson, Hilary; Ion, William; Whitfield, Robert Ian
Author: de Vere, Ian; Fennessy, Liam
Series: E&PDE
Institution: RMIT University, Australia
Section: Changing Innovation Landscapes 4
DOI number:
ISBN: 978-1-912254-05-7


The practice of Industrial Design is typically defined as the design of products for mass manufacture. Whilst this is a traditional endeavour for the Industrial Designer, such a narrow definition does not accurately represent the new innovation landscapes in which contemporary practice is centered. Increasingly Industrial Designers are designing experiences and services that are mediated by tangible, but often non-physical, products. Sitting behind this are agendas for design that lie outside of the manufacturing concern such as, designing for emotion, for social impact, for improved health and well-being, or for pathways towards less unsustainable futures. In this work Industrial Designers draw on a range of methods and discourses that further distance them from manufacturing concerns including inclusive design, design for sustainability, and interaction and data-driven design. Traditional technical and pragmatic orientations are often set aside so that designer can innovate or deal with complexity through speculative and propositional design thinking. Of importance in this shift is the near universal mindset that design decisions ought not impart a negative impact on the environment or society, through an approach to practice that strives to make positive contributions to societal wellbeing.

This paper examines the contestable meanings of Industrial Design defined by professional associations and challenged by designers and design theorists. It explores transitions of practice and the implications of such messaging and counter-messaging on the ways Industrial Design education can be understood; where continuously re-defining Industrial Design is itself critical to any pedagogy for future practice.

Keywords: Industrial Design, design and innovation, design as an agent of change, design education


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