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Guest csven

Where Are The 2008 Predictions For The Id Profession?

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Guest csven

For someone like me it isn't that important really; I'm kinda long in the tooth. But for the younger or aspiring designers, I'm surprised to see so little discussion and perhaps a lack of concern for where things might be headed. That in itself is notable to me.

 

So where are the predictions for the profession?

 

Not design/trend predictions. Job-related predictions. Because more than most, ID is arguably at the mercy of more factors than other professions.

 

I'd be interested in hearing some thoughts. And for those interested, I may... may... actually get a few responses to a blog post asking the same question (Link).

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I'd expect to see more entrepreneurs. Lots of talent and not many jobs equals more people going out on there own. It's the only solution since the glut of talent equals lower compensation, take it or leave it syndrome and fewer jobs. Newer designers should have the mindset of being ready to go out on their own or find creative ways to get that initial experience. Smaller, leaner consulting teams with low overhead, even virtual teams connected only online should rise with digital being more prevalent.

 

Mid-senior level designers (that aren't directors / management yet) have to step up their virtual game since the new kids can easily output photo quality 3-d with software and digital rendering with tablets, etc..that the older guys may not have had access to or time to learn. They may be seen as dinosaurs and their positions in jeopardy since the "sales presentation" is so important in some places. With the ease of high quality 3-d renders, hopefully the fascination will go down and the actual design will be focused on more but older guys have to catch up or make the leap and use their experience to direct and manage or be rendered (sorry about that!) obsolete.

 

Workflow will have to be streamlined (shouldn't it always be anyway) even more with the temptation to ship out the monkey work. I see more use of freelancers to help contribute to a multi-threaded workflow.

I think corporations will source out more work to independent freelancers/contractors (similar output but cheaper than consultancies) and consultancies should use their design knowledge, resources, and specialization to move higher up the chain into developing their own products fully and licensing them or slide into a slightly different arena (user experience, etc). Short of sales and marketing, bigger consultancies can handle everything themselves and should. But too many are just used as an add-on too late in the game and aren't being utilized to the best of their ability and I think they're starting to realize that.

 

So basically I see everyone starting to step up their game and evolve.

-Independent designers starting to be more entrepreneurial and developing their own products or market straight to the corporations.

-Corporations starting to streamline and use independent contractors for what they inefficiently use consultancies for. For ones that do use consultancies correctly, seeking more of a partnership arrangement.

-Consultancies starting to go out on their own and use their expertise to develop their own products

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Guest wayne the pain

My prediction for 2008 is CHEAP

 

I've spent the last three years designing kitchen products and I've seen the market wanting cheaper and cheaper products with the same quality more and more! It will be designers that can produce the standard products that are cheaper to produce that will stand out from the crowd. In my experience I got a client to choose my design not because it was a better looking product (to be honest the rival product was nicer designed) but because I had taken a standard component and reduced the component count by half thus making it cheaper!

 

Its depressing but being cheap is the way forward

 

xx

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Guest csven
I'd expect to see more entrepreneurs... even virtual teams connected only online should rise with digital being more prevalent.

 

Agree. I've been expecting the same, but the tools to support this sort of thing seem to be falling behind.

 

Mid-senior level designers (that aren't directors / management yet) have to step up their virtual game since the new kids can...

 

Workflow will have to be streamlined...

 

...Consultancies starting to go out on their own and use their expertise to develop their own products

 

But isn't most of this stuff that's already been happening? The warnings to old school designers seemed more valid in 2000 (just prior to the U.S. "purge" shortly after). Offshoring/outsourcing seems on the decline; especially with China's improving economy and the decline of the U.S. dollar. And ID consultancies have been developing their own products for years now; almost every one I know personally has been doing it.

 

Are these still perceived as new developments in the broader community? I'm asking because I don't know. If it is, that'd be interesting to hear.

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Guest csven

My prediction for 2008 is CHEAP

 

I've spent the last three years designing kitchen products and I've seen the market wanting cheaper and cheaper products with the same quality more and more! It will be designers that can produce the standard products that are cheaper to produce that will stand out from the crowd. In my experience I got a client to choose my design not because it was a better looking product (to be honest the rival product was nicer designed) but because I had taken a standard component and reduced the component count by half thus making it cheaper!

 

Its depressing but being cheap is the way forward

 

xx

 

I spent three solid years designing similar products in the early part of the decade. That trend was very much in evidence at that time (and probably the big reason Philips didn't succeed at Target; though we all hoped they would).

 

I wonder if this is a European trend. Interesting. Not what those of us in the U.S. would be hoping to hear.

 

Would appreciate some more insight from the European community. And of course from the other communities out there.

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I'd expect to see more entrepreneurs... even virtual teams connected only online should rise with digital being more prevalent.

 

Agree. I've been expecting the same, but the tools to support this sort of thing seem to be falling behind.

 

Mid-senior level designers (that aren't directors / management yet) have to step up their virtual game since the new kids can...

 

Workflow will have to be streamlined...

 

...Consultancies starting to go out on their own and use their expertise to develop their own products

 

But isn't most of this stuff that's already been happening? The warnings to old school designers seemed more valid in 2000 (just prior to the U.S. "purge" shortly after). Offshoring/outsourcing seems on the decline; especially with China's improving economy and the decline of the U.S. dollar. And ID consultancies have been developing their own products for years now; almost every one I know personally has been doing it.

 

Are these still perceived as new developments in the broader community? I'm asking because I don't know. If it is, that'd be interesting to hear.

 

I see, I've only known of a couple of places that have put out their own products. Big drawback to being a freelancer in not getting to always see the inner studio workings with some of my clients I guess, a little bit out of the loop. I still don't know if it's considered mainstream or standard fare yet, maybe I'm wrong.

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Guest csven
I see, I've only known of a couple of places that have put out their own products. Big drawback to being a freelancer in not getting to always see the inner studio workings with some of my clients I guess, a little bit out of the loop. I still don't know if it's considered mainstream or standard fare yet, maybe I'm wrong.

 

Could be that the places I know are all into it. Not just the ID firms, but the engineering consulting firms. It's like the one's that survived the early purge (~2002) decided to establish strong ties to China to help sell their design service... and when business slowed down, used those ties to work on their own stuff; following reports of other firms like PDG(?). They're the firm that really pushed modular computer housings (inserting the front face so they could swap them out and change the look). There was a big article on them somewhere back then; ID magazine maybe? Core? Can't remember their name now. Anyone remember? I want to say it was Palo Alto Design Group. So PADG?

 

Raises an interesting question: How successful have these efforts actually been? The two small engineering consulting firms I deal with have both struggled with their own product (no surprise to me). The ID firms seem to fare better. But my sampling is way to small to have meaning. Much of what I know is from reading about companies like the one I mentioned above. So while the effort to develop products independently might not be new, maybe there's more happening in how it's approached. Now that's worth looking into.

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From the only 2 that I personally know, 1 has it's own manufacturing in China making it easier to output their own designs and they put them out themselves or work out a sales arrangement to another bigger company. The other firm developed their own and made a company based around the product, then sold the company from what I remember from the website. I recently heard of another popular firm on the west coast I believe that is doing the same thing, name escapes me right now but I think the story was about really high end outdoor grills and other things like that.

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Guest csven
I recently heard of another popular firm on the west coast I believe that is doing the same thing, name escapes me right now but I think the story was about really high end outdoor grills and other things like that.
That would probably be Robert Brunner's (ex-GVO, ex-Lunar, ex-Apple, ex-Pentagram) new design firm. BW did a piece on him: "A Master Designer Redraws His Plans". I'd expect the firm to do well simply bc he's there. Question would be: how well are those products doing?

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From my point here it seems like development cycles are ever shorter and we need more people. We are finding that we need to have a balanced development team in both the manufacturing country (China, Taiwan) and the consumer country (US, Europe) India should be emerging as a design center in the next few years, and I feel that the Chinese design teams are slowly developing more confidence in their design chops and developing a Chinese design language, which seems more florid than the clean European and Japanese design directions.

 

Sustainable design will probably develop more design guidelines and likely become one more overlay in more development pipelines. My sense is that outsourcing to China has probably reached a saturation point, and European and American firms are starting to make more economic sense. (but dont hold me to this- so much is likely to change)

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Guest csven
Sustainable design will probably develop more design guidelines and likely become one more overlay in more development pipelines.

 

So how do you think this will impact the profession? design education? aso?

 

I agree, but haven't figured out how it'll weave itself into the mix.

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I am under the impression that in the future, more and more design professionals and design educations will have to take sustainability into consideration. A sustainable design will simply have the advantadge with the end user, because people in general are beginning to be more aware of the issue of sustainability. And I think more companies will use sustainability as a sales argument.

 

I believe that the prediction of wayne the pain with cheaper products are only halfway true. I think that there will be a large part of the users who will still want cheap products - specifically in the eastern part of the world where the number of wealthy people quickly increases. However I also think that a growing part of consumers want quality products that makes a statement about them selves and are willing to pay for it.

 

During the last years it has also become more obvious that the power of brands is decreasing - People will not stay loyal to one brand if there are no advantages by doing so. The comsumers are more enligthened about many products and are critical and will become even more critical when it comes to the choice of products/brands.

 

Furthermore, with so many designers graduating ever year, both in the western world as well as in the eastern world, there will be even more competition among design studios - probably on the cost of the quality of work being done. Designers aren't exactly cheap and with an increase of the number of selfproclaimed designers (artists, 3d visualizers and other creative people) I think it will be difficult for many designers to compete on price. And I know that price shouldn't be the only competitive factors, but unfortunately many companies might disagree...

 

/tbroen

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Guest csven
I am under the impression that in the future, more and more design professionals and design educations will have to take sustainability into consideration. A sustainable design will simply have the advantage with the end user, because people in general are beginning to be more aware of the issue of sustainability. And I think more companies will use sustainability as a sales argument.

 

Since sustainability is so often cited as having an important impact on ID in the future, I'd be interested in your elaborating on this. Please do.

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I believe that sustainability is becoming more popular due to the fact that people continiously are made aware of environmental issues (i.e. global warming, the ozon layer, melting ice caps etc.) and how they as consumers of products also have a responisbility to take care of the environment. I think that until now this developement is more outspoken in Europe than in the States. But it is being more obvious everywere in the western world.

 

And it is well known that people makes statements by the products they use. They want to tell the world that they care about the environment without actually saying it directly. So they use the products around them to say the same. You see it all around - If you have a small armband with an iPod in - you're sporty. If you have a Ferrari - you have money. If you have a chair made out of reused plastic bottles - you care about the environment.

 

and the companies know this is how it works. And the reason to why I think that sustainable products will have the upper hand compared to non-sustainable products, is that so many products today actually have the same quality and specifications - and often you can also find several of these products in the same price range. So if you have the choice between two products and one of them perhaps are 100% reusable and the specifications are the same on both, your conciousness will probably make you choose the reuseable one, because then you can say that you also are thinking of the environment. It is kind of an added bonus that will affect you in the moment where you have to make a choice.

 

For the companies it will of course also add to their image and reputation, whether or not they have any concerns for the environment. And most companies does not see it as a bad thing to have an image like this. Some companies will of course also have difficulties in creating this kind of image - i.e. the oil industry - but they still try to do so (bio dielsel, green diesel etc. (at least we have that in Denmark)) Even producers of landmines think of sustainability (making mines that dissolve after a certain amount of time).

 

I dont believe that everyting should be sustainable design, but why not consider some of the aspects when we as designers have the oppotunity to do so.

 

/tbroen

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Guest csven

While appreciated, that really wasn't what I was wondering. I was more interested in what Industrial Design really brings to the table in a real and practical sense.

 

IDers rarely make final decisions on materials. Usually that's an engineering issue. And if there are any cost issues, it then goes to the team, because in the end it's a profit issue. And oftentimes, the vendor for a specified material is chosen by Purchasing, and that can present other issues related to sustainability concerns.

 

So short of teaching IDers materials science and engineering in school, and with the assumption that ID will continue to be rather low on the totem pole and not make very many final decisions, what can Industrial Designers practically do and how will the profession change to reflect that increased emphasis?

 

I'm trying to keep this topic profession-centric, hence the request for exposition in this particular area (which you seemed to start on in that previous response) and not the broader product/cultural trends.

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