Six decades – and six different roles for the industrial designer.

Anna Valtonen


In Finland the role of the industrial designer has changed with time. When the professional practice of industrial design first started to form, the designer was a creator whose work was likened to that of the artist. In the sixties designers started to work in closer co- operation with the industry, and the designer became a member of a team together with the engineer and the marketing representatives. In the seventies ergonomics were largely discussed and in the eighties the issue of Design Management became popular. In the nineties brand building and strategic design became the focus areas, and in the new millennium design was seen as a means of innovation. These new areas of design have created different roles for the industrial designer. The previous roles have not disappeared, they still exist, but the general area of work for the industrial designer has broadened. I will in this article consider which some of these roles are, reflect over the reasons that have caused the change and also consider what has been typical for the design rhetoric or discourse of each period.

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