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

 Thanks to @the_villainess for an amazing work in progress shot of the soon to be crown jewel of our collection - a huge (8' wide) commission from @tristaneaton based on the lives of @thechiclibrary and I. Can't thank him enough knowing how busy he is and I'm SO F*CKING EXCITED!!! #streetart #streetartist #streetartnyc #streetartofficial #tristaneaton #tristaneatonart #tristaneatonmural  @visionaireworld X @louisvuitton from back in the day when Kidrobot actually made art toys #louisvuitton #lv #kidrobot #visionaire #visionaireworld #monogram #louisvuittonmonogram #murakami #takashimurakami  Got a vintage @huckgee Skullleader as a new addition to the collection #urbanvinyl #huckgee #mech #robotech #robot  @thechiclibrary in full effect at New York Fashion week for the photographers tonight in @ika_editions @blackscale and @tomford #nyfw #newyorkfashionweek  Forgot to mention I got to see @huckgee new Skullhead mech work in progress which I think is one of the best pieces he has ever done. I already put in dibs on at least one. #huckgee #huckgeeskullhead #urbanvinyl
 Extremely honored to have been chosen by @ghoshal and @erondu to join 25 design leaders from AirBnB, Uber, Facebook, Slack, Google Ventures, IDEO and more for High Resolution, a 25 episode video series on design. Look for my episode focusing on creativity and leadership coming soon. @highrespodcast #creativity #leadership #design #podcast  Spent the morning with @the_chris_buck new book Uneasy which is a fantastic look at the work of one of the most creative people I know. Get your copy at chrisbuckuneasy.com #chrisbuck #photography #photographer #portraitphotography #portrait #portraits  Some days I feel like I should wear this @huckgee armor to work. #huckgee #urbanvinyl #mech #armor #toy #kidrobot #dunny  If you listen to The #CrazyOne podcast you have @lukewessman to thank for it. He gave me the push to finally launch it and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. He is a constant inspiration, someone who makes me want to be a better man and I always feel lucky to count him as one of my friends. Thanks for the support brother. #crazyones #lukewessman #tattooartist #lag #crazyone  @nychos under scaffolding in Haight Ashbury #streetart #streetartist #nychos #streetartofficial #streetartsf
 A pile of pugs and a @steelers blanket - what else do you need on a day off? #pug #pugs #pugsofinstagram #steelers #yinz #burghproud #herewegosteelers  FYI - it's pronounced 'art' not 'toy'. These @huckgee pieces are hand made and can take up to a year to produce. #huckgee #robotech #mech #robot #urbanvinyl  Happy Valentines Day to @thechiclibrary - love of my life fierce and true. #chic #nyfw #fashion #love  Because of Snowmaggeddon in NYC I'm having to do my meetings from home today and apparently everyone thinks they are a Creative Director in this house. #pug #pugsofinstagram #design #creativedirector #puglife #designer #dogismycopilot  @huckgee amazing work in progress #urbanvinyl #huckgeeskullhead #huckgee

Copyright © 2015 Stephen Gates