What is Industrial Design? 

Industrial Design deals with the design of products that are manufactured industrially. It is therefore about designing products that are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly. Industrial designers usually work in teams, taking into account the needs of the customer as well as the requirements of the manufacturing process.

Industrial design has its origins in the industrial revolution of the 19th century. With the mass production of goods, the need for product design increased to make products more aesthetically appealing and functional. In the 1920s, it was recognized as a separate discipline and gained more and more importance in the following decades. Many well-known designers, such as Dieter Rams, have shaped industrial design and contributed to its current significance.

Function and aesthetics in industrial design

The two central aspects of industrial design are function and aesthetics. Function refers to the usability and needs of the user. An industrial designer must ensure that the product serves its purpose and is user-friendly. Aesthetics, on the other hand, refers to the appearance and perception of the product. A good industrial design is characterized by a successful combination of function and aesthetics.

Design process in industrial design

The design process in industrial design is usually divided into several phases and generally includes the following steps:

  1. Analysis and research: The first phase consists of analysis and research in which the design team analyzes the needs and requirements of the target audience as well as the market. This includes the examination of trends and competing products to gain a clear understanding of the market situation and customer requirements.
  2. Concept development: In the concept development phase, various concepts and ideas are generated based on the results of the analysis and research. Possible solutions to the requirements and needs of the target group are developed and evaluated.
  3. Design and sketching: The third phase is the design and sketching phase, in which the team creates a visual representation of the concepts. 2D sketches, 3D models, and mock-ups are created to visualize the concepts and to check feasibility.
  4. Design detailing: In this phase, all details of the industrial design are worked out. It is about refining the concept design and defining all components and features of the product. Materials, colors, and surface textures are also defined to design the final appearance of the product.
  5. Engineering: In the engineering step, the product design is transformed into a technical drawing or CAD design. The construction must be able to meet all requirements for functionality and manufacturing of the product. Aspects such as material selection, strength, durability, and ease of maintenance must also be considered.
  6. Prototyping: In this phase, prototypes are created to test and refine the design in reality. Different materials and technologies can be used, such as 3D printing, to optimize the design and improve the production process.
  7. Testing and evaluation: In the testing and evaluation phase, the design is tested by potential customers to collect feedback and suggestions for improvement. Different methods such as surveys, user tests, and focus groups can be used to obtain comprehensive feedback.
  8. Production and market launch: The final phase includes the production and market launch of the product. All design aspects are implemented, and the product is prepared for the market. This includes the creation of marketing materials and the planning of sales and distribution strategies.

These phases may vary depending on the design project and process, but generally represent the basic process.

Importance for companies & startups

Industrial design plays a crucial role for companies. A good design helps a product stand out from the competition and remain in the customers’ memory. It ensures high recognizability and identification with the brand. A successful design strategy can positively influence brand perception and bind customers to the company in the long term. Furthermore, a product’s design can improve its functionality and user-friendliness, leading to higher customer satisfaction and associated positive ratings and recommendations.

Protection of Industrial Design

Industrial design is an important form of intellectual property and is protected by laws and guidelines. In Germany, the protection of industrial designs is regulated by the Design Act. The Design Act protects the appearance of a product, but not its function. To obtain protection for an design, it must be registered with the German Patent and Trademark Office. A protected design offers the company protection against imitators and ensures greater legal certainty.

Future of Industrial Design

The future of industrial design is influenced by technological developments, environmental concerns, and socio-economic changes. The following are some trends and developments that will shape the future of industrial design:

  1. Sustainability: Sustainability will be an important factor in the design of products and services. Designers will use environmentally friendly materials and production methods and consider the entire lifespan of the product.
  2. Digitalization: Digitalization enables designers to use new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality to visualize and test designs. 3D printing technology will also play an important role in creating prototypes quickly and cost-effectively.
  3. Personalization: Customers will increasingly demand personalized products and services. Industrial designers will be able to design and produce tailored products that meet the needs and desires of customers.
  4. Circular Economy: In the circular economy, products are designed to be reused or recycled. Industrial designers will be able to design durable and repairable products to promote waste reduction.
  5. Artificial Intelligence: Artificial intelligence will enable designers to work faster and more efficiently by automating repetitive tasks and conducting user data analysis.
  6. Social Design: Social design refers to the design of products and services that meet social and cultural needs. Designers will be able to design products that meet the requirements of disadvantaged populations.


Industrial design involves a variety of phases and steps aimed at developing products that are functional, aesthetically appealing, and user-friendly. It requires the collaboration of designers, engineers, and other professionals to ensure that the end product meets the requirements of customers and market trends. It includes various stages, including research, conceptualization, sketching, modeling, prototyping, and construction. The future of industrial design will be shaped by trends such as sustainability, digitalization, personalization, circular economy, artificial intelligence, and social design. Industrial designers will be able to respond to these developments and design innovative products and services that meet the needs of customers and the environment.