These amazing examples of industrial design all combine aesthetic appeal with creative problem-solving to create something unique.
As its name implies, this discipline is about all balancing creative, conceptual, freeform thinking with the practical, industrial constraints of actually getting something made, which requires knowledge of production processes, materials and technology.
Over the years, some designers’ mastery of this crucial balance has elevated them to iconic status – and we’ve featured some of the fruits of their labor here. We all know how products designed by the likes of Jonathan Ive, James Dyson or Charles Eames look and work. Chances are you already own one, or at least want one.
But we’ve also included some great industrial designs that you may not already have seen – some of which are on the market, while some are still at a concept stage. So whether you’re a consumer hungry for the latest stylish gadget to kit out your apartment, or a designer yourself looking for inspiration.
Coke Contour Bottle
Instantly recognizable, the Coca-Cola contour bottle is a masterpiece in industrial design that dates back to 1915 when the Coca-Cola Company asked its bottle suppliers to design a new bottle that would be distinctive and instantly recognizable – even in the dark. Designer Earl R. Dean took up the challenge, and following instructions issued by his boss, aimed to come up with a design based on the ingredients of the drink. Unable to find any reference images for either the coca leaf, or the Kola nut, Dean instead used an image of a cocoa pod from his encyclopedia as inspiration, leading to the iconic ribbed bottle shape we know and love today.
Hasselblad 500C Camera
During World War II the Swedish government tasked Victor Hasselblad with designing a camera that mirrored a German aerial surveillance camera recovered from a downed plane. This camera was refined over the following years, eventually spawning the iconic 500C in the late 1950s. Such was the popularity of the camera, it became the anchor product for the Hasselblad company for the next four decades, and was used by NASA during the Apollo missions to the moon.
KitchenAid Stand Mixer
Pioneered in 1914 for industrial use on US Navy battleships, the KitchenAid stand mixer first entered homes in 1918, but it was in the 1930s that Egmont Arens’ patented silhouette – relatively unchanged ever since – turned the product into an icon of American industrial design, which is exhibited in San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art.
This classic piece of industrial design was originally conceived in 1932 by George Carwardine, a car designer who was working on vehicle suspension systems at the time. It was his work in this field that inspired the versatile four-spring mechanism that defines the Anglepoise lamp, which was developed primarily for working environments such as workshops and surgeries, but a simpler three-spring version soon made it into homes too.
Introduced in 1979 with krypton or xenon bulbs and variable-width beams, many Maglites have become collectable items thanks to their limited-run special editions and custom paint schemes. They now use LED bulbs, and thanks to their power and durability are the flashlight of choice for many police forces. Until recently, this included the LAPD – until their double-use as a baton became controversial.