I am officially uncategorized

In my first post I stated that design is invisible. Here’s an example. When I was filling in the information for this blog there was a box where one would select their “category”. I had to pick “consulting.” Why? Because in terms of design all they offered me was architecture or fashion. I applaud them for even listing these two sectors but it left me “uncatergorized”.

Whenever I’m at a social event and someone asks me, “So what do you do?” the answer to this simple question becomes more involved. The response “I’m a designer.” typically leads to bewilderment or more questions, such as ” So what do you design, clothes?”. Or I’m asked if I’m an architect or graphic artist. Which in hindsight, I guess Blogger.com’s categories of designers isn’t that bad.

But anyway, my point is we are an invisible industry even though almost everything you use to drive, to make mobile telephone calls, to clean dishes and clothes, to watch entertainment at home, to compute and to staple paper together to name only a few “categories” of product, saw the involvement of an industrial designer.

What is even more bizarre is that the people who should know about industrial design don’t. Any manufacturing company can benefit by incorporating a design program into their product development. The companies that succeed owe their good fortune in large part to design. However, I’ve come across many in North America’s manufacturing sector who have never heard of industrial design. I would never think negatively about someone outside industry not knowing about the profession because there is very little exposure to design in the mass media. However, I am always shocked even after two decades in the business that some industrialists still ask me to clarify exactly what it is that I do. I once had a company president upon hearing me use the term industrial designer inquire if I designed factories. Well, an industrial engineer would probably be a better candidate for that task and guess what, engineering did merit a category on Blogger.com.

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