Jon Kolko shares his reflections from the 2009 IDSA conference, concluding that the profession of Industrial Design is becoming less relevant with each passing year. As designers move away from their traditional strength of form making to now be called on to know more about the increasingly complex specialties of material science, digital components and networked services Industrial Designers need academic programs that would allow them to remain relevant.
The discipline of industrial design has had a long history of form giving, and the creation of objects and artifacts that relate to the incidental parts of life. Industrial designers make stuff, and the making of stuff is a commodity - a profession differentiated only by cost. That is, there are a huge amount of capable industrial design firms in the world (and increasingly in Asia), and these firms are only differentiated by the cost of their services. A commodity market affords only limited growth and only limited market share, and can never truly sustain itself in any meaningful manner.
The End of an Era