How Industrial Designers can Team with Software Designers to Prove the Value of Objects
Tod Corlett, IDSA and Mike Leonard, IDSA | Philadelphia University
Industrial design education is currently presented with an unprecedented challenge. For decades, educators could comfortably assume that the interface of even the most advanced system was primarily a physical interaction; this truism guaranteed industrial designers an important role in the design of that interaction.
With the recent advent of interfaces that are primarily digital and hardware-independent, things have changed. Bits are cheaper than things, and easier to change, and quicker to distribute. To enable a dizzying array of special-purpose software, interaction models like the iPhone/App Store demand objects which don’t get in the software’s way—ones which are literally as generic as possible. The perfect object, under this model, is one with no features at all, or at least none that aren’t determined by software. This puts industrial designers, who generally believe that users benefit from well-designed objects with features that support specific interactions, in a position where they need to earn a place at the table. If industrial designers wish to participate fully in the design of intelligent electronic objects, they have to find new ways to collaborate with software interface designers- ways which can show the true value inherent in physical interfaces.