Essential Websites for Industrial Designers
Original Image by: Labnol
There are just so many websites out there these days, so how do Industrial Designers determine the ones that are worth looking at, and relevant to the wide range of topics covered in the Industrial Design profession? Therefore I have decided to create a living resource that lists what I think are some of the best Industrial Design related websites out there.
So before we hit the list, lets take a quick look at how these sites in this article made the cut? First of all I have not included sites that only report design news or the latest eye candy from the design industry, there are just so many out there (Core77 or Moco etc.) that any will do as they will all eventually report the same thing. Next the sites I have included here genuinely provide original content from which designers can learn from, and finally at these sites, there are ways for designers to be part of a community and have means to have an open communication with the authors. In particular I have left out sites that have comments disabled as I find one way communication just defeats the learning process.
Started in Nov 2006, this is the blogging arm of one of the first Industrial Design consultancies out there. They were very quiet at one stage after peaking with the old Apple computers, but seem to recently come back strong in Industrial Design scene again with a few notable products. The FrogBlog mainly focuses on a strategic application of design as well as the business end of the Industrial Design profession. It’s nice for a change, to read about designers fluent not only in style but in business speak as well.
Created by my harshest critic and someone I consider a friend, csven, and is about insights on the confluence of the real and virtual environments and everything living in between. I am the first to admit that I don’t always understand what it is all about, but it is an interesting read as we can catch glimps of the potential future of consumerism.
A group blog written by a team of an all stars in the Graphic Design world. Not the best in product critiques, but a fantastic source of discourse on the culture in and around design.
Though focusing on a freelancing environment, it can be a good source, even for employed designers, for tips on getting better in design. Other than my blog there are hardly any sites out there that focus on getting better in the technical aspects of a design profession.
Ideas on Ideas
Focusing on branding, Ideas on Ideas can give designers insights on ways to bring their products to the next level by communicating brand strategy.
Nussbaum On Design
Even though the blog’s author Bruce Nussbaum often displays a lacking in the understanding about technical aspects of what it takes to do good design, the key take away is that his blog’s audience includes senior level managers that run businesses. Therefore it is worth keeping an eye out at the site as it does provide a perspective that reflects a group of people who do not have a background in design but needs to use it to make a difference, ie the profile of many of the buyers of design services today.
Logic + Emotion
One of my recent favourites, David Armano explores branding, marketing and one of the most important aspects of a good product the experience design.
Though mainly focusing on furniture, their interviews of famous designers are a great source of insight into the minds of our best and brightest. I don’t really bother reading much of anything else unfortunately.
This is also one of my favourite sites as it covers the latest in cutting edge technology presented during their conferences. Don’t think there is any more I can say but to bookmark it.
Seth’s blogs walks the cutting edge frontier of marketing, with a lot of fantastic “riffs” that Industrial Designers can get ideas on positioning their design solutions and building loyal customers. The blog gets updated many times a day, too often for my liking, so I have decided to just read his book instead.
What forward looking designer would not want to know what is coming up next in the wide wonderful world in consumerism? There are quite a few great blogs run by trend research companies. Cheskin and PSFK, are good examples, unfortunately due to the nature of their business, it always seems that they are holding something back. My pick, however would be Trendwatching. Their monthly newsletters are actually based around a spotted trend and past trends reports are constantly kept up to date. By visiting their site you can get a good birds eye view of what they think will be coming up next. Their site has been a invaluable resource to my team and I in the work we do.
On a small note, I like to also recommend Jan Chipchase’s site. He has graciously shared his research work done for his employer Nokia and is a rich source of information on how people use personal devices.
Portfolio and Networking sites:
A few years ago there was only one Coroflot, but in the last 2-3 years a whole myriad of sites have popped up, from which you could almost find one targeted to each and every design discipline. Designer ID, Design Related, Creative Hotlist, Carbonmade are all sites you might like to consider. I am a member of almost all the sites listed, however my personal favourite and the one I find that I keep on going back to is the new Behance Network. It is a great site as not only does it allow portfolios to display different media (even video clips!) its main focus is the cross pollination of ideas based on an open communication and interaction between members. It is open to all design disciplines, and has one of the best interfaces I have experiences on portfolio sites.
Also for Industrial Designers it is almost vital that you have something on Coroflot, the whole world is there, and most ID talent spotting agencies frequent that site first. As a closing to this segment, I do recommend that all designers join Linked In as well. It is more focused towards businesses in general and a great place to list a CV. For designers to be successful in industry they will need to cross that business line and this site helps bridge the gap.
Finally designers should occasionally frequent discussion forums. Though not really necessary these days with blogs, but the few I visit include Core 77 Forums, Product Design Forums and IDAsia.org.
Core77 used to be filled with “flame wars” but have since been cleaned up with better moderating and is now a good site for help. It is thought very US centric. Product Design Forums covers the European market, however the site tends to lean towards a more how-to environment with lots of advice and tutorials on technical design skills. Finally IDAsia.org, a site that I manage, aims to cover a much smaller Asian industrial design scene.
I hope you enjoyed this list as much as I did compiling it. It is by no means complete or intended to be comprehensive, but it is meant to be a living resource that is open to suggestions and additions or deletions. Please let me know if I have missed out any sites or if there is a site that I should also consider?
Brian Ling (Design Sojourn)
Brian is a multidisciplinary Design Leader with more than 18 years of experience leading strategic design programs that drives successful Brands and Fortune 500 businesses such as GE, Philips, Nakamichi, Flextronics, Ericsson, Hannspree, and HP. His passion is in helping organisations leverage on Design Driven Innovation to make people’s lives better.