Industrial Design

The Definition

Industrial design is a process of design applied to products and industrial goods that are to be manufactured through techniques of mass production. Product design is one of many niches within industrial design often defined by the kinds of products it designs. Just like a dentist is a specialist within the larger medical field.

“What is industrial Design?” In this video, members of the Industrial Designers Society of America ( – a non-profit membership association dedicated to advocacy, education, community and information in industrial design – explain ID and its impact on our every day lives.

The 32 Steps

1. Idea Sketch

Employed at a personal level to quickly externalize thoughts using simple line-work. Also known as Thumbnail, Thinking or Napkin Sketch.

2. Study Sketch

Used to investigate appearance, proportion and scale in greater detail than an Idea Sketch. Often supported by the loose application of tone/color.

3. Referential Sketch

Used to record images of products, objects, living creatures of any relevant observations for future reference or as a metaphor.

4. Memory Sketch

Helps expand thoughts during the design process using mind maps, notes and annotations.

5. Coded Sketch

Informal coded representation that categorizes information to demonstrate an underlying principle or scheme.

6. Information Sketch

Quickly and effectively communicates features through the use of annotation and supporting graphics. Also known as Explanatory or Talking Sketch.

7. Sketch Rendering

Clearly defined proposal produced by controlled sketching and use of color/tone to enhance detail and realism. Also known as First Concept.

8. Prescriptive Sketch

Informal sketch for the exploration of technical details such as mechanisms, manufacturing, materials and dimensions.

9. Scenario & Storyboard

Describes interactions between user and product, sometimes in an appropriate context.

10. Layout Rendering

Defines the product, proposals as a third angle orthographic projection with precise line and color.

11. Presentation Rendering

Contains a high level of realism to fully define product appearance as a perspective view. Particularly useful for decision making by non-designers.

12. Diagram

Schematic representation of the operating principle of relationship between components. Also knows as a Schematic or Diagrammatic Drawing.

13. Perspective Drawing

Descriptive three-quarter view produced using a perspective drawing technique. Created using line only without the application of color or tone.

14. Gen. Arrangement Drawing

Exterior view all components using line only and with sufficient detail to produce an Appearance Model if required. Usually drawn in third angle projection.

15. Detail Drawing

Contains detail of components for the manufacturing product. Also known as Technical, Production or Construction Drawing.

16. Technical Illustration

Communicates technical detail with a high degree of realism that is sometimes supported with symbols. Includes Exploded views.

17. Sketch Model

Informal, relatively low definition 3D model that captures as the key characteristics of form. Also known as a Foam Model for 3D Sketch.

18. Design Development Model

Simple mock-up used to explore and visualize the relationships between components, cavities, interfaces, and structures. Usually produced using CAD.

19. Functional Model

Captures the key functional features and underlying operating principles. Has limited or no association with the product’s final appearance.

20. Operational Model

Communicates how the product is used with the potential ergonomic evaluation.

21. Appearance Model

Accurate physical representation of product appearance. Also known as a Block Model as it tends not to contain any working parts.

22. Assembly Model

Enables the evaluation and development of the methods and tools required to assemble products components.

23. Production Model

Used to evaluate and develop the location and fit a of individual components and sub-assemblies.

24. Service Model

Supports the development and demonstration of how a product is serviced and maintained.

25. Experimental Prototype

Refined prototype that accurately models physical components to enable the collection of performance data for further development.

26. Alpha Prototype

Bring together key elements of appearance and functions for the first time. Uses of simulates production materials.

27. Beta Prototype

A refined evolution of an Alpha Prototype used to evaluate ongoing design changes in preparation for the final specification of all components.

28. Systems Prototype

Integrates components specified for the production item without consideration of the appearance. used to evaluate electronic and mechanical performance.

29. Final Hardware Prototype

Developed from the Systems Prototype as a final representation of the product’s functional elements.

30. Off-Tool Component

Product using the tooling and materials intended for production to enable the evaluation of material properties and appearance of components.

31. Appearance Prototype

Highly detailed representation that combines functionality with exact product appearance. Uses or simulates production materials.

32. Pre-Production Prototype

Final prototype produced using production components. Manufactures in small volumes for testing prior to full scale production.

The Designers

Industrial designers work primarily in offices, but they may travel to the places where the products are manufactured. Industrial designers develop the concepts for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day.

Who are the top industrial designers in the world? Here’s a list of famous industrial designers with photos, bios, and other information when available. According to Forbes, the Swiss designer and entrepreneur Yves Béhar has been the most influential industrial designer in the world since 2014. Another one who has successfully mastered the ongoing challenges in the design world certainly is Sir Jonathan Ive who designed the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

IDEAs & Possibilities

The Industrial Designers Society of America’s International Design Excellence Awards® (IDEA) is one of the world’s most prestigious design competitions.

Some quite nice collections of product design:

The Customers

Customers seek custom products, the timely delivery of products, safe products, products that are simple to use and products that require little maintenance as well as products that are low in cost, high in quality and backed by warranties. In addition, some customers consider the environmental impact of a product in terms of its production, function and disposal. These customer preferences are key considerations in the development of both a product design strategy and a business strategy.

As a result, product design strategy is a key element of an organization’s business strategy in that the former determines the characteristics and performance of new services and goods that can contribute in a significant way to sales revenue. Product design is the means by which customer demand for new and varied products can be met, a key focus of business strategy.

The Future

Expectations and empathy shape the future of product design: A product today is rarely just physical, but consumer’s expectations for meaningful product experiences are greater than ever. The challenge for designers is to bring empathy and sensitivity to their work, regardless of the tools and technologies at their disposal.

My Interests

My cares, concerns and hobbies certainly consist of traveling, discovering and global politics next to notably all the 56 Projects, you'll find in My Interests. Discover some matters of substance!

I also read quite a lot and usually buy books second-hand in print for a Dollar or two. Besides my digital bookshelf, you may also find an extract of my music playlists collection right here in Books & Music.