Industrial Design (better known as ID) is a creative process of designing products that are aesthetically pleasing to create brand perception, while solving user-related problems.
In today's context, ID leads to user-experience.
Design Thinking, a much talked-about management tool, is an offshoot of an industrial designer's thinking process.
In the late 1990s, as the economy opened up and with the advent of MNCs in India, it was imperative to design the product to compete in the growing and crowded market.
But ID was in a very nascent stage in India.
With growing awareness and stiff competition, each manufacturer seeks to differentiate their product through looks and features.
Both these attributes in a product lead to user-experience and brand loyalties.
The design of the product is a single significant factor which helps in the "Wow" factor at the point of sale and during usage.
Over the years, manufacturers have recognised the importance of design for business success. ID helps in understanding the user's needs through the process of design research, which, in a nutshell, is nothing but empathising with users/consumers.
It leads to insights into the consumers' minds and helps in solving their overt or covert problems.
The findings from user research help in creating user-centric features. While the reflection of ID comes from stunning aesthetics which create a brand language and perception, the core of ID is to give the user an experience through smart features that add convenience and surprise (an emotion that comes while unwrapping a gift).
ID is user-centric; hence any touch-point (sensorial or emotional) forms a palette for industrial designers.
But the role of ID is evolving. With the euphoria that Design Thinking has created, the acceptance of ID is spreading. As it makes inroads into the emotional and aspirational space of the consumers, it is moving towards the fusion of technologies with design.
New technologies are redundant until they are humanised. So, the future of ID is to incorporate technologies in the product to make them humane. It is fast evolving from a physical object-based design to user-experience and can be used for designing user-interfaces.
Most of the popular apps/websites are designed by industrial designers for ease of navigation and aesthetic composition.
We see a tremendous amount of convergence taking place with product solutions that have been able to assimilate aesthetics and technologies to give an unprecedented user-experience.
ID is also playing a significant role in service design, business design and social innovation.
The possibilities are enormous and infinite. New age start-ups firmly believe in ID and there are many unicorn start-ups that either have industrial designers as their co-founders or have competent designers in their core teams.
Airbnb is one such example where the co-founders are industrial designers and they have designed a service by unearthing the latent need of the people
(Anuj Prasad is Founder (and) CEO of Desmania, an industrial design studio)