From Collaboration to Integration: The Working Mode Shift for the American Industrial Designer

By Shu-Wen Tzeng.

Published by The Organization Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

According to the report from Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, industrial designers held about 44,300 jobs in 2008. There are about 17,600 job openings due to growth and replacement needs from 2008 to 2018. According to IDSA, there are about fifty-four NASAD accredited industrial design academic programs, as of May 2008. If each program generates fifty graduates each year, there will be about 27,000 industrial design college graduates from 2008 to 2018. The data shown above reveals that there will be about 10,000 industrial design college graduates- not including the graduates from graduate schools and other non-industrial design majors- being unemployed or self-employed by 2018. The economic downturn is just part of the reason forcing industrial designers to change the way they work, and the main cause is probably the increasing operating expense in the United States. Taking into consideration the hiring costs and the timing for communication and mass production, a lot of American companies use design firms overseas which are located closer to their suppliers. This offshoring of design work could continue to slow employment growth of U.S. industrial designers. Besides, recent studies show companies are now looking for industrial designers to bring more than “just design” to the company. The job function of industrial designer has been shifted from a simple “form giver” to a “solution provider”. In other words, American industrial designers nowadays have to prepare themselves for a dynamic and multidisciplinary working environment.
This paper will explore the impact of the highly developed economic status on the working mode of current American industrial designers. Stories about successful industrial design consultancies in the U.S. market will be discussed as a case study. The information shared in this paper should give practical suggestions for both practicing and prospective industrial designers in the United States.

Keywords: Integrated Design, Industrial Design Working Mode

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 10, Issue 10, pp.43-54. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.019MB).

Shu-Wen Tzeng

Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial and Graphic Design, College of Architecture, Design and Construction, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA

Shu-Wen Tzeng received a bachelor of science in Industrial Design from National Cheng-Kung University, Taiwan and a master of industrial design from Auburn University. She worked for Darfon Electronics (BenQ Group) Design Center as a design manager with expertise in consumer electronics. Over the past nine years, she has received two IF (International Forum Design, Hannover, Germany) awards and three G-Mark (Good Design Award, Tokyo, Japan) awards. The research Professor Tzeng has undertaken at AU is informed by her professional experience and expertise in the area of product design and development. Her research interests are in the user interface design domain where user cognition and product semantics are of the utmost importance and the interaction design domain where end users interface with increasingly complex devices and seek for better user experience. Shu-Wen joined the Department of Industrial and Graphic Design at Auburn University as an assistant professor in 2008.


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