Industrial design is the branch of design devoted to solving formal – functional problems in objects destined for industrial production. Some people think that this is an artistic discipline, but it is not so. Industrial design has a commercial purpose, it seeks to sell the greatest amount of products, and wants them to be practical and interesting. Art is an end in itself as has beauty or society as an aim, according to the interpretation made. Anyway, we can state radically that industrial design is not an artistic discipline.
As we have already said, industrial design deals with formal-functional problems. According to the importance given to each of these problems in developing a product, we may divide this discipline into: functionalist and aesthetic. This branch of design is in charge of developing, planning, producing and modifying objects with the aim of offering practical solutions to people’s daily problems. Industrial design makes a point in solving ergonomic problems, that is, problems having to do with people and the environment (particularly working environment). A famous example are ergonomic chairs for the computer. These chairs seek to change the posture of the computer operator for him not to suffer from bad posture and be able to have a more efficient mobility both working in site or moving.
Functionalist industrial design: seeks the functionality and utility of the object before aesthetic beauty or originality as a design. This orientation of industrial design has in mind solving problems in a practical and efficient way without paying much attention to the appearance of the object developed.
However, as there is no production without sales, the functionalist industrial designer can neither deny nor do away with the aesthetic factors altogether. It is well known that in most cases objects call prospect clients attention on account of their appearance and aesthetic attraction.
Aesthetic industrial design: is the one in which the appearance of the object developed outweighs its utility. In this orientation we can find those designers who love design from a more aesthetic perspective. It is clear though that no branch of design, especially industrial design, may overlook or discard the practical and functional needs of the objects created. Although, it is true that people will be attracted in the first place by the appearance of the object thus enticing them into buying it, nobody can sell a very beautiful object that is useless. When people buy a product developed by an industrial designer they want it to solve problems of different sorts, especially ergonomic problems. Consequently, the aesthetic orientation of industrial design may not fully leave aside the necessarily functional trait of the objects developed.