15 Apr Industrial design versus: unpacking the difference between industrial design and other practices
When it comes to design practices, industrial design can often be confused with fields that sound similar or show some overlap in service provision. However, industrial design with its unique, overarching approach can easily be defined based on how it adds value to consumers’ lives through products that deliver on function as well as design.
In today’s blog, we will be taking a closer look into how industrial design is different from certain design practices – and where, in some cases, there are some traits that overlap. Let’s start with a comparison that often causes some confusion: industrial design versus product design.
Industrial design versus product design: looking beyond solutions
Although product design does play a part in the industrial design process, it is not the same as the latter. Product design is mostly geared towards creating solutions for consumer needs. Industrial design, however, encompasses the full process from conceptual designs and development to manufacturing, and considers aspects such as mass production too.
Industrial design versus engineering: a difference in processes
Industrial design and design engineers both focus on the manufacturing of products, but their functions differ slightly. Industrial designers play a vital part in developing products for the manufacturing process, whereas design engineers will be geared towards improving the production process as needed.
Therefore, design engineers have a specific focus on production, while industrial designers already start their creative process several steps before manufacturing takes place.
Industrial design versus architecture: consumer goods compared to projects of scale
There are several key differences between industrial design and architecture. Where architecture is mostly associated with projects such as construction, structures of scale and on-site job activities, industrial design is focused on consumer goods and products, therefore, items that can be purchased and used. Both might be concerned with design, but their environments, as well as their end consumers and goals, differ.
Industrial design versus UX design: different applications for user journeys
Both industrial design and UX design are geared towards the user experience and creating a better experience with each interaction. Both disciplines involve reviewing the user journey and considering solution where offerings can be improved. UX design, however, mostly deals with online products such as websites or apps, whereas industrial design is associated with physical products.
An example of UX design is creating a new website from scratch, paying close attention to the website’s layout and how users would potentially navigate the website. The UX designer will suggest different content sections and play a vital role in testing the website during production to ensure it will perform as it should and help users get the information that they need.
Industrial design versus graphic design: visuals taken off page
Graphic design forms an important part of the daily tasks of both industrial designers and graphic designers. The difference between these two fields is that where graphic designers are mostly designing visuals for print or online mediums, industrial designers translate their visuals from page to physical form and beyond towards the production process.
The overlap here is that both professions need an understanding of graphic design, but the execution is ultimately different. A graphic designer will, for instance, be tasked with a project such as creating the visuals for an advertising campaign, which would also be focusing on the end result and user experience with the design, but in the visual space, as opposed to the product and consumer goods space.
Industrial design versus interior design: products compared to large scale layouts
Interior designers play a valuable role in creating bespoke spaces for clients. From choosing specific furniture pieces, textures and finishes, they create room layouts that speak to a certain aesthetic and fulfil designs that their clients are looking for.
However, industrial design does play a role in the interior designer’s space in terms of consumer product solutions that can elevate a room’s appeal, such as home appliances that create convenience and comfort while also being aesthetically pleasing. Therefore, although industrial design and interior design are not the same, industrial design can augment an interior designer’s offering to clients through solutions that will add value to users.
Industrial design versus mechanical design: the bigger picture
Mechanical engineering’s big difference from industrial design is that it is strongly geared towards functionality. In other words: it is occupied with the goal that a product needs to work, and how to fix a product if it isn’t working.
Industrial design, on the other hand, not only focuses on the functionality of a design, but also have it will solve the pain points of its users and add value through its function, while also remaining aesthetically attractive. Think of a blender, as an example. It needs to function properly to perform a certain function; however, its owner would likely prefer that it also looks as great as it works. This is where the difference between industrial and mechanical design comes in: industrial design looks beyond performance at the bigger picture.
Understanding the strategic nature of industrial design
It is clear from the above examples that although there are some overlaps and complementing functions, industrial design can be easily defined by its strategic approach and drive geared towards innovation. It is entrenched in the design process and adds value to consumers’ lives through its all-encompassing approach – making industrial design one of the most important fields in the consumer space!
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