Like any career, there is more to being a successful industrial designer than having a degree and designing products. To really excel, to create products which wow and evoke desire in an audience, it takes understanding, both introspective and of the greater environment.
Know yourself and know what you want (and need) to do
Good design takes determination. It requires persistence and passion, a drive to bring something from conception to reality. But to do this you need to know two things.
Know what you are designing
Regardless of creative ambition and desire to innovate, if you know nothing about a product or the market, you minimise the chance of success. You can’t stumble around an industry blindly and hope to tick the boxes of user design wants. You need to get up-close and personal with the market. Know what’s out there. What works and what doesn’t. Know what people want. Only with this information, can you create a design which people will look at and think, “I need this”, “this looks awesome” or “why hadn’t someone made something like this sooner.” With less than 3% of consumer packaged goods considered to have successful launches, it is fundamental to know your market.
Know your strengths and weaknesses
Design is complicated. One person cannot be an expert in all fields. At some point, you will need help from an outsider. From someone who has more knowledge, who has a specialisation that will allow you to create a truly spectacular product. A key step of successful design is knowing what you can and can’t do, and when to look for help. Collaboration is a fundamental, but in many cases unrecognised, aspect of design. It ensures you capitalised on your strengths, and the strengths of others, whilst overcoming weaknesses.
Know who you are designing for
Any design job, regardless of origin, needs to cater for two audiences. The end user and the client. Whilst success is tied to the end user desiring (and ultimately purchasing) a product, reputation and further work is tied to meeting the needs and wants of the client. A successful design is one who upholds a spirit of collaboration with clients, who provides insight into market and design fundamentals, whilst taking on board feedback from the concept driver. Ultimately, the job of an industrial designer is to bring clients ideas into fruition. Regardless of ultimate commercial design potential, if a client is a happy with the work of an industrial designer, the project, and design, can be considered a success.
These points represent a snapshot of the design profession, a profession with more nuances and depth than a mere blog article and relay. However, these highlight a key point. Know what you can, want and need to do. By understanding these points, you walk down a path towards successful industrial design.