Tastemakers Series: Industrial Designers
By Tiffany Meyers, January 2005
We live in a world of stuff. It accumulates in our homes, garages and offices. We tuck it into nightstands and glove compartments. Occasionally we throw it out, but, inevitably, we go out and buy more stuff. In fact, we’re buying more stuff every year. In 2004, Americans spent $987.8 billion on durable goods such as motor vehicles, furniture and household equipment, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
But even in this cycle of gather, dispose, repeat, there are objects that stand out. From the new BMW 7-Series to candy-colored iMacs, these are the products whose ingenuity captures our imaginations and whose lines catch our eye. These are the chairs that straighten our slouches, the containers that prevent us from spilling on our laps, the handy tools that are triumphs of form and function. They are the vehicles that transport us along roads–and even through the stratosphere–in comfort and style. “Good industrial design identifies unmet needs,” says Alistair Hamilton, vice president of customer experience and design for Symbol Technologies in Holtsville, N.Y., “and then fulfills those needs.”
Industrial designers must draw from a range of competencies–including ethnography, engineering, ergonomics, manufacturing and marketing, among others–to create everything from spaceships to sippy cups, interiors to interfaces.