Industrial Design/Product Design


Industrial design/product design, which describes mass-produced, often machine-made objects and interfaces designed for human needs, has been a fruitful area of collaboration between art and commerce and designers, artists, engineers, and architects since well before the term was coined in the 1920s. The industrial revolution, beginning in the late 18th century, introduced increasingly complex machinery that fundamentally altered the production, circulation, and consumption of goods. Throughout the mid-20th century, material innovations, the inventive repurposing of World War II manufacturing processes, and an ethos of collaboration among artists and designers yielded a high point in design history. For example, the bent plywood technique used in Charles and Ray Eames’s iconic chair originated in a leg splint they designed for the Navy. Designers used methods of ethnography, anthropology, anthropometry, ergonomics, and the study of the body and movement to bring human-centered design to the masses (Henry Dreyfuss’s 1937 Model 203 Telephone was the first to enable hands-free calling; Dieter Rams’s 1987 Braun calculator influenced the look of the iPhone’s calculator). After World War II, increased purchasing power in the United States and Europe contributed to the flourishing of designing for human needs, while the development of computing technology in the later 20th century has led to innovations in product design, particularly responsive user interfaces.