Industrial design is by definition tied to mass production. Given the choice between easily selling 200 or 20,000 of something, most of us--or at least the parent companies funding us--would choose the latter, unless specifically trying to create a contrived "limited edition" exclusivity.
Not all designers think this way, of course. Indonesian product designer Singgih Kartono practices what he calls "slow design," as seen in his Magno Radio, which took a staggering 13 years to go from concept to production. His radio was intended to be a culturally-relevant device:
...Kartono wanted to go beyond established forms of Indonesian art, such as batik and carving, while retaining the cultural philosophy of having a connection between the user and the product. He said: "We do not think of a product as an object, we think it is part of our life. And I try to explore that in my design."
The radios are made from Pinewood, Mahogany and Albasia - wood from trees indigenous to Indonesia. And Singgih plants a replacement tree for each one he uses. He explained: "(This is) because wood is a soulful material. Wood tells us about life, balance and limits. When I combine electronic products with wood material, it seems like a soul embodied, it makes a closer relation to us."
The largest setback to production was bulk purchasing; no supplier would sell Singgih less than 1,000 radio circuits at a time, when he was only prepared to handle smaller runs. Once he finally found a supplier willing to sell lots of 100, he was in business.
The Magno Radio is now produced at a rate of 200 a month by 30 craftsmen in his hometown, which Singgih purposefully orchestrated to provide jobs for his fellow villagers. Demand is stronger than that, with interest from Europe, Australia, the U.S. and Asian, but Singgih isn't really interested in increasing production or spinning new designs: "I will make developments. But my design is slow design. I do not want to make things fast because I am not driven by the market, or driven by the money."
via channel news asia