What is Industrial Design? Providing a Guide for University Applicants

Michael Goatman

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers
    Place of PublicationOslo
    Publication statusPublished - May 2013
    EventDRS // CUMULUS 2013 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers - Oslo, Norway
    Duration: 14 May 201317 May 2013


    ConferenceDRS // CUMULUS 2013 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers
    Abbreviated titleDRS // CUMULUS 2013

    Bibliographical note

    Author's note: This is a paper currently at submission stage to the DRS Cumulus 2013 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers Oslo, 14-17 May 2013. Significance: -
    Gathering of information about Higher Education Industrial Design courses for the prospective student applicant has always been on a web search and reputational level, however indications gathered from talking to visitors at Open Days and other sources suggest that this is an inaccurate and unreliable method. This understanding gap has expanded in that the definition of “Industrial Design’ has broadened significantly in recent years, particularly with the aspects of research and ‘design thinking’ broadening perceptions and adding to the generally assumed product based definition. Potential students can easily find themselves at an unsuitable degree destination. The paper suggests a web-based method of matching a prospective applicant’s abilities and aspirations to the different courses on offer and feeding back information will enable them to make a more accurate match. This is topical at a time when change factors are acting on the sector from a number of directions including fee expansion, and globalisation of education, which increases the significance of varying concepts of the discipline in different countries and sectors.

    Rigour: -
    The study approaches through investigation of the industrial design industry by asking 5 current and successful industrial designers to write a short narrative describing their current perception of their subject. The participants represent design businesses from small to very large (global corporate centre). It then conducts a key-phrase analysis of these texts and on the basis of this evidence explores the differences with references to a number of current papers examining the subjects of industrial design pedagogy, and design thinking. From this it draws a model of classifications of mental activity. In order to provide the applicant with a reference to their own natural attributes and way of thinking the proposal accesses the ‘Myers Briggs Personality Indicator (MBTI)’ a leading established preference based personality categorisation tool that is extensively used in personal development and team building. The study therefore proposes a web-based information provider that operates as a direct link for the potential applicant between their own aptitudes to offers of university course in Industrial Design, through a computer word comparison mechanism accessed by an established personality type indicator, and takes its reference from perceptions of the employers representing the graduates’ career destinations.
    Originality: -
    No evidence has been found of a similar provision made for applicants to Industrial Design courses. The need for such a provision can be seen as relatively recent in that the expansion of perceptions as to the content of the activity of Industrial Design has become a leading topic of conversation in the industry, supported in the UK by the Design Council, where “Design Thinking’ is a leading identifier. One reason for this is the globalisation of the industry where design and implementation activities that used to be conducted in the UK are now carried out in Asia. The foundation topics taught at secondary school level however have not embraced this change and are therefore appropriate as preparation for certain HE courses but not for others.


    • Industrial Design
    • Design Thinking
    • Personality Categorisation
    • University Applicant
    • Art/Science

    Cite this