My first year in college was a mixed bag of success, failure, and realizations. It was one thing reading about Design, and another thing actually jumping in and studying it. Here are 4 things that I learned along the way that I wish I knew before enrolling.
1. It’s not just about drawing cool cars
The main reason why I decided to pursue a career in design was so I could draw cool cars all day. I wanted to do something that I loved. But I quickly learned that sketching and drawing accounted only for about 10% of the overall design process. Around 80% of the whole process was research and development. The entire basis of design is to try and solve a problem, and to solve a problem, you need to know the ins and outs of the product you are trying to improve.
2. MANAGE YOUR TIME WISELY
This might be a given for most if not all professions, but I think it is one to double down on as an Industrial Designer. We will often work with tight deadlines on very time-consuming projects. So the margin of error on timing is fragile to be able to achieve a successful turnaround. Be prepared to sacrifice time for leisure to focus on the project at hand, otherwise train your body to endure many countless sleepless nights.
3. YOU WILL NEVER SEE THINGS THE SAME
It will be drilled into you to notice the flaws in everything, but also come to appreciate truly great designs better. It is as if you are looking through a different lens, so to speak. Boring products like teacups will suddenly become interesting. You’ll notice the subtle choices the designer made in the product, and realize the manufacturing feat they had to overcome to achieve a finished product. Once exciting products such as cars become mundane and stale. Your mindset will shift towards continually thinking of ways to make things better.
4. THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILL
I think there is a misconception that sketching is the most important skill a designer needs to develop to become successful. While it is a vital skill to have, there is another often overlooked, and that is one’s problem-solving skills. Developing a good foundation in problem-solving will set you up to become a much better designer than those who solely focus on their presentation skills. Problem solving will make you more adaptable to unpredictable situations, which will often come during your design career. Someone who can get past problems and solve them easier, in less time, provides a lot of value to possible employers.
You don’t have to be good at everything to be the best at something.
These are some of the things that I’ve learned in my time in school and career. I hope this helps any of you thinking about making the jump into Industrial Design. If you have any questions or would like to give me some feedback, I would love to hear from you.