The Future of Industrial Design

It’s time to evolve the way we train young industrial designers.

I’ve often heard designers express frustration about the decline in the quality of education for industrial designers and the curriculum’s failure to teach the foundational skills needed to enter the profession.

Having managed Kaleidoscope’s industrial design co-op program for five years and mentored co-ops throughout my career, I can’t say I disagree. Though young designers still have so much passion for their craft, their portfolios often reveal that the required skills are lacking.

What’s changed over the last decade? Our world.

Born after the dawn of the internet, today’s young designers have grown up surrounded by technology and unlimited access to information. While their innate curiosity has not changed, the way they learn and the tools they use certainly have.

For me, growing up pre-internet came with advantages and disadvantages. Much of my understanding of the world and the products around me came from my curiosity about and interaction with tangible objects. Whether it was building things with my father in the garage or taking objects apart and putting them together to see how they worked, my learning came from the physical world around me.

So how can we adapt the way we train young designers? I don’t have an encompassing solution to this question. But I do believe the first step is to recognize the impact of these generational and cultural changes so we can tweak the curriculum by incorporating literal hands-on experiences into students’ education. Let’s bring back model-making and shop courses, all the while emphasizing why these efforts are essential to one’s foundation and growth as a designer.

I’m sure all of you new and veteran designers have your own perspectives on the subject. What do you think of the state of today’s educational design programs? How can we ensure the next generation of designers are as prepared and skilled as possible?

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  • Jake Schubert

    Jake Schubert

    Senior Lead Industrial Designer | [email protected]

    Jake Schubert is a Senior Lead Industrial Designer at Kaleidoscope Innovation. His technical expertise and collaboration with our engineering team are instrumental in ensuring that user needs, design, and engineering intent converge seamlessly in our market-ready products.