If you're a "design lover" who likes to look at pictures of pretty objects, this roundup of posts is not for you. These are for the actual working industrial designers attempting to navigate a successful career for themselves.
Industrial design is, by definition, tied to mass manufacturing. Since manufacturing is expensive to set up and run, industrial designers are either tied to big businesses with deep pockets, or they figure out a way to set up shop for themselves. We find stories from both sides of the fence fascinating and often filled with lessons. Here are the best of those stories that we came across this year.
In "A Triumph of Design and Manufacturing: The Story of Cubipods and the Innovative Mold Required to Make Them," a mold designer and his engineering partner create an entirely new shape with an important ecological function. The result was wildly profitable.
In "Bloomberg is a Billionaire Because He Backed Good Design," we learn how Michael Bloomberg became extremely rich (net worth about $53 billion) due largely to his good, early grasp of UI/UX.
You know who's got a lot of money these days? Car companies. That's why we're always eager to peer behind their curtains and see what drives their decisions of how to spend that money on design. This year we learned "The Design Story Behind Range Rover's Most Unusual Vehicle," which became a huge business success for Jaguar Land Rover.
And in "Behind the Scenes at the Acura Design Studio," we got an inside look at how that company orchestrated a massive turnaround by renewing their focus on design.
Entrepreneur Bruce Meyers didn't have a lot of money, but he did have manufacturing expertise with fiberglass in an era when most didn't. In "An Unsung Designer, an Iconic Design: Bruce Meyers and the Meyers Manx," we learned how he created a wildly popular new vehicle--and failed to capitalize on its success.
In "A Mid Century Modern Designer Whose Name You Should Know: Mel Smilow," we saw how a Pratt dropout went from furniture distributor to successful designer with his own line. In the post-WWII years, Smilow's work was "among the better examples of contemporary American design and workmanship."
In "Clever Tool Design, Bold Entrepreneurship: The Story of the American-Made LogOX," we saw how a fired engineer turned a longstanding tool-creating hobby into a successful family-run business.
In "An Industrial Designer's Story of Losing Passion, Falling in Love with Roadtrip Adventures and Designing a Watch," Laurens de Rijke shares his story of taking the long road to reach his design dream.
In "Jonathan Ward's Obsessive Approach to Industrial Design," the founder of Icon 4x4 reveals his fastidious design process, which combines history, cutting-edge technology and pure design geekery.
In "These Designers are Pioneering the Furniture of the Future, and Building It Right Now," Jeffrey McGrew, Jillian Northrup and Adam Weaver tell us about their startup, Model No., which uses "digital fabrication to make awesome, on-demand, customized designer furniture that folks have never seen before."
In "Smart Design on Redesigning NYC's Iconic Trash Can," industrial designer Dan Grossman explains how the legendary firm researched and designed their entry for the BetterBin design competition. (I still can't believe they didn't win!)
Veteran industrial designer Justin Coble shared his list of "A Design Strategist's Six Rules of Thumb for Design Research."
Lastly, for those of you pondering big career moves for 2020, check out "What is the Highest-Paying Job an Industrial Designer Could Realistically Transition Into?"