Traditionally speaking, industrial designers need industrial clients. But the skillset conferred by ID experience overlaps well with what design entrepreneurs need to do their own thing. Here are some examples of the industrial design entrepreneurs and pioneers we spotted in 2023.
Industrial designer Tony Richardson teamed up with two fellow outdoorsmen to design outdoor products. Richardson designed the Rux, a flexible fold-flat outdoor gear container system, and the trio launched a company to produce it.
Bryce Gibson and Kurt MacLaurin, also industrial designers and outdoorspeople, invented The Mule. It's an all-terrain wagon towable by hand, bike or car. Following a successful Kickstarter, the design duo now run their own company, Earth+Kin.
Poland-based industrial designer Piotr Tluszcz already had the entrepreneurial bug—he and his father launched a utility trailer manufacturing company 11 years ago. More recently, for the conflict in nearby Ukraine, he designed this Life Chariot off-road ambulance for Ukrainian medics. It's currently being evaluated in the field.
When Barcelona-based industrial designer Juan Sanz learned how expensive disaster relief beds are (€50-€200 / USD $53-$212), he designed the Humanitaria Bed. It's an easy-to-produce version that costs just €17 / USD $18.
Julian Reuter and Peter Kraft, buddies since ID school in Germany, developed Karuun. It's a Rattan-based wonder material and plastic alternative. The duo launched a company to produce it, and now sell four varieties.
Art Center grad Kevin Xiem Nguyen did six years in the ID trenches, but eventually gave into his other passion: Ceramics. Nguyen not only opened a ceramics education center in California, but used his ID know-how to design a line of specialty clay tools. He founded Xiem Tools USA to distribute them.
Australian industrial designer Tom Skeehan set a personal challenge for himself: ""Create a folding chair with the form and experience of a traditional timber chair." It took tons of sketching and prototyping to get there, but the result was his Hup Hup chair:
Industrial designer/mechanical engineer Cameron Smith also re-examined the folding chair, and designed his Crisscross model "to emphasize style, quality and comfort in an everyday use chair." It's in production by his FurnitureSmith brand.
Peter Bristol is VP of Industrial Design for Meta. But on the side, he pursues self-initiated projects, like this cheeky mash-up of Eero Aarnio's rotomolded Puppy for Magis and Konstantin Grcic's Mayday Lamp for Flos.
Lastly, we're not sure if this worked or not, but Minsk-based industrial designer Andrey Avgust had an interesting idea: Design speculative products, like this deconstructed computer mouse, and offer up the production rights in exchange for Bitcoin. It's a nice hustle if it works.
Join over 240,000 designers who stay up-to-date with the Core77 newsletter.
Test it out; it only takes a single click to unsubscribe