New product development, who needs a designer?

Mark Beckwith, Senior Lecturer in Industrial Design talks about the changing industrial design landscape. Mark teaches students on the BA Product Design in the School of Arts & Creative Industries

Changing design processes

Product / industrial designers initially conceptualise a new product that creates emotional connections with the end user. Development draws together fit, form, and function, optimising all to create the best possible solution. Designers strive to create visually appealing designs and ensure that the product is manufactured in an economic and sustainable manner, creating a product that can stand the test of time.

When I graduated in the late eighties manufacturing companies would leave industrial design to the end of the engineering lifecycle, or leave out completely often with a new product struggling to find success in consumer-driven markets.

The situation has now changed with designers involved from the initial ideas stage. Designers now must embrace several challenges, as manufacturers face more competition and faster development cycles than ever before. Consumers are becoming ever more discerning in a global market, with design and engineering teams increasingly integrated therein.

The way forward

Within manufacturing industry, there has been much discussion dedicated to the way forward for product design as a profession, especially with its power to impact corporate thinking or influence culture. Design is affecting society on previously unheard-of levels. Apple, for example, is now worth over $3 trillion and has unquestionably changed societies all over the world. And it’s no exaggeration to say that industrial design has played an enormous role in their success.

As long as people feel the need to create, build and manufacture, industrial design will remain vibrant. Just look around, there are many national and international companies that are dedicated to good design and bring awareness of them to the masses.


Product Design at Teesside

The Product Design course at Teesside University equips students with the skills and knowledge for careers across the design industry in roles from consultant to in-house designer, enabling employment with a wide range of employers from small independent businesses to large-scale manufacturers.

Teesside University is ranked 13th out of 71 institutions for Design & Crafts in the Guardian University Guide 2021