What is the difference between Product Design and Industrial Design?

At first glance, Product Design and Industrial Design may appear to be the same thing. After all, both services involve designing products to market, but as similar as they may seem they are very different from each other. Let’s see why.

The Product Designer is the professional figure who deals with the product even before it is created: he/she produces the concept and the first images – from a pencil sketch or a CAD rendering – which will become the basis of the design process, in order to have a beautiful and functional product.

In addition to the aesthetic aspect, the Product Designer pays attention to details such as the user experience, intuitiveness and emotional appeal of the product. This professional figure represents all the strategic and tactical activities for the creation of the product and its marketing.

Once the product design has been created, this is where the Industrial Designer comes in. He/She will examine the data available and transform the idea into something reproducible for mass production.

The term Industrial Design was coined after the first industrial revolution, when factories were set up to create mass-produced products in large quantities. Before the First Industrial Revolution, products were designed by implementing manual techniques which resulted in lower productivity.

The Industrial Designer therefore studies every single necessary part of the product, from the screws that hold it together to the microchips necessary to make it work, from the draft angles for the mold outlet, to the thicknesses of the materials. His/Her task is to prepare the work done by the Product Designer for mass production.

The Product Designer and the Industrial Designer are often professional figures who operate independently. Manufacturers find themselves having to refer to two distinct professional figures, who do not interact during the entire design process and this can create difficulties during the different phases of the process, risking the non-reproducibility of the initial idea.

Here in ZAAFDesign from the very beginning we have believed in a multifunctional team that combines the different professional skills. In fact, in our team, Product Designers and Industrial Designers interact during the entire design process, placing the feasibility of the product at the center of the project. Combining different professional and transversal skills in a team allows a continuous discussion during the design, enriching the project in every phase. It allows us to arrive – in the production phase – with a project that is coherent with the initial idea, without risking that there are no grounds for its reproducibility.

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