History of Industrial Design

When looking for a clear picture of the History of Industrial Design, I found a lot of nuggets of information, but never a full picture. I have put together the information I had collected from these many sites, creating a more cohesive timeline.

The Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain, introduced a shift to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories and mass production.

During the Great Exhibition held in Britain, Europe was introduced to America’s developments of modern industrial mass production and functionalism.

The Practical Draughtsman’s Book of Industrial Design by Jacques-Eugène Armengaud was printed. The Subtitle states that it wants to offer “complete course of mechanical, engineering, and architectural drawing.”

Early 1900s
Concepts such as efficiency, standardization and functionality became popular.

Deutscher Werkbund, focused on the integration of traditional crafts and industrial mass-produced techniques, was founded. (Precursor to Bauhaus)

After World War 1, the USA experienced rapid technological growth and industrial development.

The first use of the term “industrial design” is attributed to the New Zealand designer Joseph Claude Sinel.

Industrial Designers start mass-producing goods like automobiles, trains and electrical appliances.

Walter Dorwin Teague created the first design offices.

The Great Depression forces industrial designers to make their production methods more efficient and cost effective.

Herbert Read proclaimed the first and the most important principle of industrial design: A factory should conform to the personality of an artist but not vice versa.

Robert Lepper helped establish one of the country’s first industrial design degree programs at Carnegie Institute of Technology.

The idolization of technology, progress and modernity was a represented and explored through design techniques such as Streamlining (styling a form to express speed and movement).

Populuxe (combination of popular and luxury) was coined by Thomas Hine to express the consumer culture and aesthetic popular during this period in the United States.

A product design section was established at Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., said to be the first in-house design organization in Japan. This was created by Konosuke Matsushita on his return to Japan following a visit to the United States.

When the American Society of Industrial Design (ASID merged with the Industrial Designers Institute and the Industrial Design Education Association to form the IDSA.   

Post-modernist movement embraced the influence of color and experience. Robert Venturi is known for coining the term “Less is a bore”, a post-modernist response to Mies van der Rohe’s “Less is more”.

Advances in computing and the rise of the Internet helps the Industrial Design profession push forward.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) created the Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI). Shortly after, the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) emerged as a recognized sub-discipline of computer science.

The Professional Practice Committee presented a updated definition of industrial design: “Industrial Design is a strategic problem-solving process that drives innovation, builds business success and leads to a better quality of life through innovative products, systems, services and experiences.”