Connect
To Top

Are digital devices killing industrial design?

I spoke last week at the Future Trends conference in Miami and afterwards one of the attendees came up to me with a really interesting question – do I think digital devices are killing industrial design?

I love great industrial design and think the changes in that field over the past few years have been fascinating.  You have seen retailers like Target and brands like OXO position items with good industrial design as an added value proposition. Meaning that you can buy a radio at Target but unlike Walmart theirs will have better design and cost a little more for it. So on one hand we are placing a higher value and higher dollar amount on items that are designed which elevates the role of the industrial designer.

On the other hand , getting back to the original question, we see that things like the iPhone and other smart phones combine multiple physical items like a cell phone, camera, day planner, Gameboy and more into a single device. This consolidation obviously means that each of us are buying fewer items to help run and organize our lives and from that point of view these digital devices are eliminating products and thus in some way killing industrial design. That being said I’ve seen a strong trend in digital design that proves that just because things are moving more to digital expressions of previously physical objects doesn’t mean consumers want to disconnect with the physical world. I was very surprised to find that when I started to design experiences for large digital multi-touch displays like Microsoft Surface that since consumers were manipulating an interface with near life sized objects they expected them to act like real objects. This means thinking in a very different way because things like physics and physical object manipulation come into play where they never have in online or even mobile user experience design.

If you really think about it this dance between industrial design and digital experience design is a logical one.  Both fields are trying to create the best possible experience for the end consumer and do it in new and innovative ways using psychology, usability and design. So the truth is that the shift into digital versions of previously physical objects may shrink the profession in one way. But I see a growing need for their expertise in helping to create large format digital interfaces as it requires their unique insights into making physical style interactions unique but intuitive.  I’m curious to hear you thoughts on the subject so leave them in the comments.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Design Cuture

Creative Director, Designer, Brand Builder, Speaker, Podcaster, Crazy One. As a designer, I have 20+ years experience creating the strategy, concepts, and designs for award-winning integrated global advertising campaigns, building multiple global Fortune 500 brands and creating innovative digital experiences. As a leader, I have 15+ years transforming agency and client-side teams using a mix of creativity, business strategy, process and political skill to create innovative, world-class work and cultures that change industries and companies. My clients have included American Airlines, W Hotels, Disney, Citi, ExxonMobil, Acura, Old Navy, Nationwide Insurance, Verizon, Subaru and many others. My work has received over 150 international awards, my app designs have been named as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Apps, Apple has featured my work in 9 keynotes, 4 TV commercials and more.

Follow Me On Instagram

 Colorful piece from @joeiurato #streetartnyc #streetartofficial #streetartist #streetart #bushwickstreetart #bushwickcollective #thebushwickcollective #joeiurato  Also loved the work I found from @li_hill #streetart #streetartist #streetartofficial #streetartnyc #bushwickstreetart #bushwickcollective  Spent the morning @thebushwickcollective seeing what was new and good. The massive @dface_official was an easy place to start. #dface #streerart #streetartist #streetartnyc #bushwickstreetart #bushwickcollective  Flashback to the @dface_official #bigegghunt egg on display at Rockefeller Center in NYC. #dface #bigegghuntny #streetart #streetartist #streetartofficial #streetartnyc #easter #easteregg  Some of my street art currency collection from @christianguemy @dface_official and @banksy #dface #c215 #c215art #Banksy #currency #streetart #streetartist #streetartofficial #banksynation
 Also went to Queens today to check out the @wellingcourtmuralproject which is small but has some great work from artists like @eelcovirus #streetart #streetartist #streetartofficial #streetartnyc #wellingtoncourtmuralproject #wellingtoncourtmurals  One of my two favorite new artists I saw today was @owendippie with his 'Radiant Madonna' with the Virgin Mary holding holding a Keith Haring child suggesting Hering is god. #bushwickcollective #streetartnyc #streetartofficial #streetartist #streetart #owendippie #owendippieart  Thanks to @invaderwashere for the postcard set from his show at @museeenherbe - I think this was literally the only thing I didn't have from the show. #invader #invaderwalls #spaceinvader #spaceinvaderparis #streerart #streetartist #streetartofficial  Happy Easter with our @dface_official egg from the NYC #bigegghunt - it's always great to see all the posts and love this piece gets today. #dface #streetart #streetartist #streetartofficial #streetartnyc #easter #easteregg #bigegghuntnyc #bigegghuntny  Added to our @obeygiant Earth Crisis display with the globe and book from @galerie_itinerrance but now have some of the stencils Shepard used to make the mural in a new lucite box. #streetartofficial #streetartist #streetart #streetartparis #obey #obeygiant #shepardfairey #shepardfaireyart #shepardfaireyobey
 You can't miss the color and patterns of @davidjunelouf #bushwickcollective #bushwickstreetart #streetartnyc #streetartofficial #streetartist #streetart  I need to start collecting @findac because I LOVE his work every time I see it. #bushwickstreetart #streetartist #streetartofficial #streetartnyc #streetart #findac #bushwickstreetart #bushwickcollective  One more flashback to the @dface_official egg original hiding spot in the Lower East Side #dface #bigegghunt #bigegghuntny #streetart #streetartist #streetartofficial #streetartnyc  Escaped to Hudson and @fishgamehudson for the day #foodie #foodies #foodiesofinstagram #hudson #fishandgame  Our new @christianguemy is back from the framers! #c215 #c215art #streetartparis #streetart #streetartist #streetartofficial #money

Follow me on Twitter

Copyright © 2015 Stephen Gates