46 years later: has the industrial design profession changed?

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I came across a brilliant video this afternoon posted by Click Industrial Design via their twitter account; it’s from the 60’s and is well worth watching if you’re a product or industrial designer.

It’s posted on the youtube channel of Good Design Australia, an international design promotion organisation, and was produced in 1967 to promote the new profession of industrial design to students.

So, almost five decades later, how relevant is this video? Very it seems.
The narrator, who is obviously an English gent with a posh accent (or did they all speak like that at the time?), starts off by describing what industrial design is: “The industrial designer devises articles which, in addition to being attractive, will be efficient and can be manufactured economically.” Yup, still true today.

He then goes on to explain how the process begins with a conference, drawings and then models. Again, true but the 1960’s industrial designer didn’t have a CAD workstation to produce models and renderings but instead had a drafting table to produce hand sketches and technical drawings.

As the video is aimed at students and how they can go about getting trained as an industrial design I found it interesting that they would have to go to a technical college where the course would involve engineering, mechanics, physics, maths and chemistry. Wow!

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There was a also a clip in a factory showing the different production processes, all of which are used today – injection, extrusion, and compression moulding.

I found this video so fascinating because although it’s obviously old, it’s amazing how relevant it still is. One line that stood out to me, especially when you think of all the mountains of useless tat that is produced today, is: “The final test of industrial design is its usefulness.”

Other than the reference to designing stoves for housewives and the fact that some of the men were wearing quite high shorts (I know it can get hot in Oz but just no!), the video is spot on. As Geoff McCormick, director of the product design consultancy The Alloy who also saw the video, tweeted: “Not sure to be reassured or worried at how apt this video still is.”

I’d be interested to hear what you think?


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