With a plethora of design courses offered and struggles one has to go through in deciding what to study, it can be a daunting task to find your way to a suitable Product Design course. In addition, when you consider the amount of products we are surrounded by, the subject matter becomes seemingly endless and many prospecting students will find more comfort in a narrow defined design field.
This blog post will hopefully make you feel less confused if the study of product design is on your list.
A first distinction should be made between the field of designing physical products and digital products (such as websites or software). Both can be called Product Design, but in this post we will discuss the design of tangible, physical products. A second source of confusion that needs clearing up is the difference between Product and Industrial Design.
To keep things short, as the name implies, Industrial design is involved with all the aspects of mass industrial manufacturing of products and processes while Product design is a subset of this and takes part in the conceptualisation, evaluation and turning ideas into tangible products. Furthermore, a Product Designer can also choose to develop a product that is not mass manufactured and does not necessarily rely on industrial technologies to manufacture.
In this view a product design course will primarily deal with tackling an existing societal issue or shortcoming and respond with a product that addresses the user and their needs in a (hopefully) profound way. While studying, students will go through the process of research, conceptualising possible solution from practical knowledge gained and present final outcomes with the tools they acquired from presentation techniques, modelling, CAD, etc. The final product will not only be useable but also elegantly incorporate innovative design trends and eco-friendly principles. Products developed can range from small to big projects, from consumer goods to transportation, packaging, furniture and so.
When we look around, handle and interact with objects on a daily basis, it is often that we can get frustrated over how things look, feel and (not) work.
Studying product design will give you the insights and knowledge to change the world we live in for the better. Even a minute design improvement in a small scaled object, for example a toothbrush or shoe, can make a huge different and improve the lives of many people. Being able to contribute in this field underlies the wellbeing of not just the user but also the environment and planet if you consider in your design the choice of materials and production. In other words, we need good and responsible product designers more than ever before.
If your interest lies in understanding how things are made, why this car looks beautiful and the other one plain ugly and how you can make things more efficient, durable, attractive, etc. Product design should definitely be on your radar.
Once you have decided to study and become a product designer, like anyone you will want to excel and stand out in your field. So here are a two actions to undertake to get there.
Be Curious. Look at the world with fresh eyes only then you can see scope for improvement and change. Discuss without hesitation your doubts and ideas with peers and lecturers, nurture your passion by interacting more consciously with products. Look at nature and art. Look at the good, bad and ugly. Learn from it.
Make small personal projects. Take up a self given challenge in your free time, whatever level you are currently at. For example, pick up an object from your desk, lets say a pen, and think how you can improve the design. Make a lot of sketch possibilities. This will improve your design and creative thinking and the speed at which you can find innovative solutions.