What Is Commercial and Industrial Design?

Mary McMahon

Commercial and industrial design refers to the development of manufactured goods like automobiles, home appliances, and toys. It involves a mixture of skills and training to create products that meet the needs of customers and adhere to applicable regulations and industry concerns. Practitioners in this field may have advanced degrees in fields like design, engineering, and art, depending on the type of projects they prefer to focus on. Employment prospects vary by region and industry.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

In this field, clients work with designers to identify new product needs and address them with effective and appropriate designs. Experts in commercial and industrial design need to be familiar with how people use products and what kinds of features appeal to them as consumers. In automotive design, for example, it’s important to keep up with the expectations of drivers as well as ongoing regulatory changes that might have an impact on design. Designers may conduct research, attend conferences, and read trade publications to keep up.

As products enter the design phase, one consideration in commercial and industrial design is the aesthetics. Designers want things to look interesting and innovative to attract customers, with a specific look and feel to attract the right demographic. They must also consider usability in the design of products and components, and may work with usability specialists on this issue. Functionality is another concern in product design and development, including reliability, available features, and how the product works.

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Some commercial and industrial design focuses on the improvement of existing products. As products are taken through multiple iterations, designers can respond to feedback from testers and consumers to develop better products. They can also design new products, particularly components that approach problems in unique ways or create a need that didn’t exist before, to build a customer base that will continue using the company’s offerings in the future. Experts in this field can also work with regulators and policymakers on design standards and laws to protect consumers and companies.

Degrees in this subject are available from some colleges and universities. These programs prepare people for careers in commercial and industrial design with a mixture of work to develop the necessary skillset. It’s also possible to pursue training in a specific subject within this field and acquire further skills on the job or through additional education. An industrial design major might, for example, take some marketing classes to learn more about how to assess potential audiences and develop strong marketing campaigns.

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