Industrial Design is always transitioning and changing. Technological updates precede the massive overflow of constant design changes to keep up to date with the upgrades. Trends, defined by specific characteristics in which changes are made in design, are a good place to start when looking into designing a project. Trends come and go, some more quickly than others, weeding out the poorly designed trends from the ones that could last lifetimes. They come from responses to the environment (sometimes literally) such as technology updates, customer needs, cultural changes, new mixtures of mediums or material and much more. Trends are a great way to gather information on what works and what doesn’t. Trends that fail can be observed and researched to understand why they have failed and to avoid those trends while trends that have been successful can be observed for quite the opposite. Design is constantly looking forward for better ways of doing things and getting things done. Design itself is a series of trends and countertrends all looking to propel a product forward, making it more unique, more valuable, useful, and elegant, etc. Over the years, industrial designers have been found to be the ones to define the where and why of a product.
What are some examples of industrial design trends?
Feedback: We live in an age where product experiences can be recorded and distributed with the touch of a button. This information is considered feedback to industries and used to further promote and progress their products while giving their customers a voice. Companies are going back and forth with customers, answering questions on social media and surveying to find what works and what doesn’t. Companies are constantly pushing for customers to “comment below” or “call us and tell us what you think” to get a better idea of how to improve their product. Industries are creating products for positive and immediate feedback for their customers, using data-driven research to find the answers to customer complaints and experiences, focusing on the positive aspects and eliminating the negative. Industries are giving power to their customers, and in more ways than one.
Communication to Customization: Some industries encourage their customers to get involved with the industry work, getting a hands-on experience and giving more power to the people. Customers not only love to comment on their experiences, but they want to get involved in the process of design, too, making their products unique and their own. Form has become almost as important as function in a project. Co-Designing has become a huge trend in industries as personalization introduces customers to the design process. Industries don’t just design a product for the customers; they are now designing with the customers. Product development decisions are made by the back and forth between customer and design team.
Making A Difference: Industries aren’t only getting more involved with customers; they want to make a difference in the lives of their customers, and what’s more changing than changing the world? Going green, saving the Earth, all while bringing down production costs, has become more appealing to customers. This popular trend has brought on many changes to the way people design products and the way we think. Products are environmentally friendly, using sustainable materials and focusing on cleaning up production processes and therefore bringing down production costs. Businesses are taking into consideration the environmental factors and elements in shipping and production. Lean Manufacturing is a way manufacturers can lower waste and prevent harm to the environment. Making a product multipurpose also gives the product more value as it saves on material usage, making the most of a product by doing more with less.
More Than A Trend, An Opportunity: Companies are creating opportunities. Designers are sculpting our society. Design is setting a path to open new doors for customers. What truly makes a great design is whether or not it can stand the test of time. Trends come and go, but a great design is constant year round, time and time again. No matter the technological upgrades, a timeless trend will continue on to set an example. A great design sets up opportunities for future trends and designs but continues to be a model for years to come. In order to progress in industry, we must learn from past and present trends, trends that have failed and trends that have been successful as they tell us what to focus on and what aspects of or about a product are most important and meaningful. Design should strive to be timeless.