Acquiring industrial design skill
May 21, 2010 1:49 PM   Subscribe

What's a good way to start learning about industrial design?

I've "designed" software UI for years, but generally, it's been for very conventional applications using fairly standard controls that simply needed to "be like X except for Y." Lately, I've been designing for new-to-me functionality that isn't going to be served by text fields and tree controls. I find these problems engaging, but I feel I could use a little more knowledge and technique to help me out here.

Industrial design looks like it may be relevant to my interests. It appears more mature and more practical than HCI. So far, I've read numerous articles about Jonathan Ive and Dieter Rams and have seen this thread about industrial design books.

I still don't know what the best resource with which I should start and was hoping you had a suggestion. I'd like a good intro book or web resource and perhaps a "cookbook"-style book that'll tell you "hey, if you have this problem, generally you can apply this recipe"? Courses would be great, too, but this doesn't look like the kind of thing they teach at the community college.

I'm not looking to become an industrial designer. I just want to learn the fundamentals of the art in order to both satisfy my curiosity and make better software.
posted by ignignokt to Education (2 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
IDSA has educational resources that might be helpful. They also have a twitter account @IDSA that you can follow links on to other places where like-minded people might be hanging out.

Your MeFi profile says you're in MA... maybe Massachusetts Department of Art and Design: Industrial Design Certificate would be useful if you're interested in something more structured. I'd say Human Factors or Industrial Design books and sites would be useful. IDSA Boston appears to be very active.

On a more general note: Objectified is an excellent movie about industrial design.
posted by artlung at 3:07 PM on May 21, 2010

In artlung's links you'll find the requirements for the accreditation of schools. Two of the criteria, just for instance, are:

The institution shall offer, as part of its regular program, studies reflecting attention to such areas as art/design history and criticism. Such studies may be in addition to, or in conjunction with, studio studies.

...planning and acting with informed analysis and judgment about the symbiotic relationships among all components of the art/design unit, including the potential impact of specific decisions on specific components and on the achievement of purposes.

That first quote sends you to art history. You'll find that classical studio art is usually part of the program, and that includes life figure drawing. You can pursue those.

The second quote points to the development of personal judgment, through repeated hands-on exercise at solving clearly-stated practice problems.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:41 PM on May 21, 2010

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