The Effect of the Merging of Design Disciplines and its Implication for Product Design Education

By Louise Kiernan and Ann Ledwith.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Design in industry is changing and design education needs to evolve accordingly. The borders between design disciplines are blurring with the different areas of design extending into each other. Design problems have become more complex as several technologies are combined to produce not just stand alone products but systems and services that are interconnected. To date product design has only been concerned with the hard-ware of a product but now the focus must also be on the disciplines and areas of design that are impacting on product design. Despite industry advances there is a belief that education is not supporting these opportunities. Evidence has shown that currently there is a poor link between design practice and design education. Many product design courses are based on the craft based Bauhaus style studio course which place an emphasis on aesthetics and form. Skills such as rendering, model making and styling are the focus despite the fact that industry is now looking for skills in other areas.

This paper reviews the disciplines of design that are merging with product design. It examines the variety of design approaches and methods used by those disciplines. This shows that a holistic approach is needed to solve today’s design problems. This paper contributes to a better understanding of product design in industry and can contribute to educators in developing educational strategies for the teaching of product design.

Keywords: Design Disciplines, Product Design, Methods, Approaches, Education

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.173-186. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.018MB).

Louise Kiernan

Teaching Assistant, Department of Manufacturing and Operations Engineering, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

Louise Kiernan is currently a lecturer on the product Design and Technology course at the University of Limerick. She has a BDes in Industrial Design (NCAD and UL) with fifteen years experience working as a product designer and design engineer. She is also doing a Phd in the area of problem solving in design.

Dr Ann Ledwith

Lecturer, Depatment of Manufacturing and operations engineering, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

Dr. Ann Ledwith is a lecturer at the University of Limerick. She holds a degree in Electronic Engineering (NIHE), an MBA (UL) and a PhD (University of Brighton). She has worked for over 12 years in R&D. She is the director of a degree course in Engineering Science, an Associate Academic Director of a distance learning MSc in Technology Management and a member of the advisory board for the Centre for Project Management, UL. Her research interests include the management of new product development and project management in small firms.


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