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A Profession in Transformation: The paradox of industrial and design in a post-industrial society

Eneberg, Magnus LU and Svengren Holm, Lisbeth LU (2008) 7th Nordcode seminar
Abstract
It is argued that we live in a post-industrial society with a transition from the production of goods to services. It is also said we live in a knowledge economy where creation, distribution, use and

manipulation of information are significant activities (Dahlbom, 2003). The word industrial has a

connotation of mass-production of products and, logically also industrial design has this connotation.

There are two issues related to this that guided our research on the design industry. One,

was whether the definition and understanding of industrial design had changed in the transition of

the post-industrial society. Another was whether the change of the market and the industrial

clients had... (More)
It is argued that we live in a post-industrial society with a transition from the production of goods to services. It is also said we live in a knowledge economy where creation, distribution, use and

manipulation of information are significant activities (Dahlbom, 2003). The word industrial has a

connotation of mass-production of products and, logically also industrial design has this connotation.

There are two issues related to this that guided our research on the design industry. One,

was whether the definition and understanding of industrial design had changed in the transition of

the post-industrial society. Another was whether the change of the market and the industrial

clients had an impact on the organization and development of the industrial design consultancies

(IDC).

The meaning of the term design is much contested. It can be referred to the actual problemsolving

activity and the ability to plan, sketch, and model (Jones, 1981; Lawson, 1998). It can

also refer to the outcome of the design process that is the product. The lowest common denominator

between design and industrial is then the actual product. The two terms would then together

imply the activity to plan, sketch and model products. The terms industrial and design would in

the change towards a post-industrial society and knowledge economy be paradoxes and the role

of the industrial designer would slowly disperse. As we know that the term industrial design is

still going strong, both in education and business there could still be a new definition and content

of the concept industrial design.

Creativity, by its very nature, creates categories or rearranges established ones (Waymire et al,

1995). The role of designers could in this sense promote strategic thinking or improve the interaction

between executives and the future. Industrial designers have always been knowledge

workers and consequently would fit perfectly in the knowledge economy. In the industrial

paradigm the knowledge was “frozen” in a product and the actual name of the discipline –

industrial design – implies a discipline that belongs in the past. At the same time paradoxically

the term design has a focus on the future. The competition in the knowledge economy is

increasing and boarders between disciplines are getting less distinct.



The issue discussed in this paper is the impact the changes of society and industry have

had on industrial design consultancies. The discussion is based on a survey of the development of

Swedish industrial design consultancies and a parallel study in Finland. The research project

investigated how industrial design consultancies in Sweden, Finland and the US view their own

development and what opportunity they see to grow their businesses. Our interest is not the

change of the industrial design profession as such, but of the development of the industrial design

consultancy firm although change of the firm is also influenced by the change of the profession.

We will therefore relate our analysis of the firm to the development of the profession. This is a

working paper and we have chosen to compress the analysis and summarize our findings. (Less)
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organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to conference
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Industrial design, post-industrial society, organizational development
conference name
7th Nordcode seminar
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
248e311e-7ba6-420f-b4f0-30eb7b2fa788 (old id 3460265)
date added to LUP
2013-02-11 14:04:01
date last changed
2016-04-16 12:16:14
@misc{248e311e-7ba6-420f-b4f0-30eb7b2fa788,
  abstract     = {It is argued that we live in a post-industrial society with a transition from the production of goods to services. It is also said we live in a knowledge economy where creation, distribution, use and<br/><br>
manipulation of information are significant activities (Dahlbom, 2003). The word industrial has a<br/><br>
connotation of mass-production of products and, logically also industrial design has this connotation.<br/><br>
There are two issues related to this that guided our research on the design industry. One,<br/><br>
was whether the definition and understanding of industrial design had changed in the transition of<br/><br>
the post-industrial society. Another was whether the change of the market and the industrial<br/><br>
clients had an impact on the organization and development of the industrial design consultancies<br/><br>
(IDC).<br/><br>
The meaning of the term design is much contested. It can be referred to the actual problemsolving<br/><br>
activity and the ability to plan, sketch, and model (Jones, 1981; Lawson, 1998). It can<br/><br>
also refer to the outcome of the design process that is the product. The lowest common denominator<br/><br>
between design and industrial is then the actual product. The two terms would then together<br/><br>
imply the activity to plan, sketch and model products. The terms industrial and design would in<br/><br>
the change towards a post-industrial society and knowledge economy be paradoxes and the role<br/><br>
of the industrial designer would slowly disperse. As we know that the term industrial design is<br/><br>
still going strong, both in education and business there could still be a new definition and content<br/><br>
of the concept industrial design.<br/><br>
Creativity, by its very nature, creates categories or rearranges established ones (Waymire et al,<br/><br>
1995). The role of designers could in this sense promote strategic thinking or improve the interaction<br/><br>
between executives and the future. Industrial designers have always been knowledge<br/><br>
workers and consequently would fit perfectly in the knowledge economy. In the industrial<br/><br>
paradigm the knowledge was “frozen” in a product and the actual name of the discipline –<br/><br>
industrial design – implies a discipline that belongs in the past. At the same time paradoxically<br/><br>
the term design has a focus on the future. The competition in the knowledge economy is<br/><br>
increasing and boarders between disciplines are getting less distinct. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
The issue discussed in this paper is the impact the changes of society and industry have<br/><br>
had on industrial design consultancies. The discussion is based on a survey of the development of<br/><br>
Swedish industrial design consultancies and a parallel study in Finland. The research project<br/><br>
investigated how industrial design consultancies in Sweden, Finland and the US view their own<br/><br>
development and what opportunity they see to grow their businesses. Our interest is not the<br/><br>
change of the industrial design profession as such, but of the development of the industrial design<br/><br>
consultancy firm although change of the firm is also influenced by the change of the profession.<br/><br>
We will therefore relate our analysis of the firm to the development of the profession. This is a<br/><br>
working paper and we have chosen to compress the analysis and summarize our findings.},
  author       = {Eneberg, Magnus and Svengren Holm, Lisbeth},
  keyword      = {Industrial design,post-industrial society,organizational development},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {A Profession in Transformation: The paradox of industrial and design in a post-industrial society},
  year         = {2008},
}