The commercial and industrial designer works with a variety of specialists including engineers, marketing and corporate strategy staff, materials scientists, cost estimators, and accountants.
Nature of the Work for Commercial and Industrial Designers
The commercial and industrial designers work is combined with the field of art, business, and engineering to create products for everyday use. The designers are responsible for the style and function of the goods including the safety of the product. Commercial and industrial designers usually work in one product category ranging from automobiles to house wares.
The very first step in creating a new design is to determine the requirements and needs of the client, the product’s purpose, and the tastes of the customer. Researching the product is the first thing required and the context in which the product will be used is determined. Factors such as size, shape, weight and color are characteristics that need to be decided. The designers meet with the client, conduct market research, read consumer information, attend trade shows and, often visit with manufacturers and suppliers.
Sketches and designs are prepared next, either by hand or computer, to illustrate the vision of the product. Designers create sketches or drawings with a computer-aided design tool called CAD. This device along with other computer tools helps in the design process to help speed up the process. The designers who work for industrial firms use an industrial design tool, CAID, to create designs and readable instructions for machines that can help automated production tools build the product designed to exact specifications.
The commercial and industrial designers present their designs along with a prototype to their clients for any changes or suggestions. The designers also work with engineers, accountants, and the cost estimator to decide if a product can be improved for safety, use, or cost efficiency. Safety tests and use of the sample prototypes by consumers are often done prior to the product’s completion or manufacture.
It is important to make sure that a design fits into the company’s business plan, so the commercial and industrial designer will often work with the corporate strategy staff. Working with the marketing staff occurs to develop plans that will be best used by consumers. The designer also tries to make sure that the design is accurately portrayed to reflect the company’s image and values. The commercial and industrial designer must of course try to develop and create innovative products before their competitor does.
Commercial and industrial designers work in offices with comfortable surroundings. Smaller companies may hire designers to work under a contract to handle specific tasks or jobs. Adjusting their schedules to meet their client’s needs may be necessary as well. Consultants and those designers who are self-employed may work longer hours in small offices to meet deadlines.
Designers may often work in their own offices or even in their client’s home or office. Traveling to locations for product testing, exhibitor sites, design centers and, manufacturing facilities may also be part of the designer’s job requirements. Computers can help designers form international design teams and also to help serve more clients over a wider geographic area.
Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Commercial and Industrial Designers
A bachelor’s degree is needed for most positions in commercial and industrial design at an entry level. The degree should be with a major in industrial design, architecture, or engineering. Coursework involves classes in design, sketching, computer-aided design, manufacturing methods, and industrial materials and processes. Classes in engineering, physical science, mathematics and psychology are also helpful.
Accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design usually occurs from about 300 postsecondary colleges, private institutes that have programs in art and design as well as universities.