Industrial Design

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Industrial design

Utilizing the resources of technology to create and improve products and systems which serve humans, taking into account factors such as safety, economy, and efficiency in production, distribution, and use.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Industrial Design


in law, a new, industrially feasible artistic concept of the external appearance of an article, reflecting the unity of its technical and aesthetic qualities. Designs exist in the form of models (for example, a model of a motor vehicle or a motorscooter) or industrial drawings (of a carpet, tapestry). To be recognized as an industrial design a proposed design must be novel (within the given country) as well as artistic. Unlike inventions or efficiency proposals, industrial designs resolve only artistic (not technical) problems and, by their nature, cannot be methods or structural plans.

To obtain legal protection for an industrial design in the USSR, an application is submitted to the State Committee for Inventions and Discoveries under the Council of Ministers of the USSR. If the design meets the essential requirements, the person creating the design, if he so chooses, is issued an authorship certificate or patent for the industrial design. The validity of the certificate is not limited to a period of time; a patent is issued for five years, and its validity may be extended for not more than five additional years. An industrial design created as part of the designer’s job at a socialist organization, on commission from such an organization or with material assistance from it, is eligible only for a certificate. A person who has created an industrial design has the right to remuneration.

Clothing accessories, sewn and knitted garments, fabrics (with the exception of decorative fabrics), footwear, and head-wear are not included among objects protected as industrial designs.

Industrial Design


the scientific discipline that studies cultural, technical, and aesthetic problems in creating a harmonious physical environment for man’s life and activities by means of the instruments of production. Industrial design represents the theoretical foundation of design. It studies the social aspect and patterns of development of design, the principles and methods of design aesthetics, and the problems of professional creativity and designer skills.

The principal divisions of industrial design are the general theory of design and the theory of design aesthetics. The general theory of design studies the social essence of design; the origin, history, present state, and future development of design; the relationships between design and art, technology, and culture as a whole; and problems in the aesthetics of the physical environment. It also formulates the design requirements for industrial products, determines methods for the comprehensive evaluation and forecasting of the aesthetic qualities of an industrial product, and defines principles for establishing the optimum range of goods needed to create a harmonious physical environment.

The theory of design aesthetics establishes the place of design aesthetics in the overall structure of the design process as well as the typology of design aesthetics, examines the designer’s patterns of creative thought, and determines the means and methods of the designer’s professional activities. An essential part of the theory of design aesthetics is the theory of form and composition of industrial products. The laws of form demonstrate the relationships between the form of an article and the article’s design, material, manufacturing method, and function, and they show historical trends in the changes of form and style. The theory of composition studies the patterns and professional methods of creating an integral, harmonious form. The principal categories of composition are the three-dimensional structure, plasticity, and means of harmonization—proportion, rhythm, contrast, and nuance. The methods of design aesthetics are developed by analyzing design activities, and they serve as a guide for practical work. These methods contain a description of the principles and means of the designer’s professional creative activity, the formats for design presentation, and the practice of modeling.

A separate division of industrial design is the development of the principles of industrial design education, including preparatory courses, the content and structure of teaching disciplines, and methods of developing professional thinking and skills.

The close tie between industrial design and social practice causes the status of the discipline to change with changes in social conditions. On the one hand, modern capitalist society must develop industrial design and make use of its achievements because these achievements directly influence the competitiveness of virtually all branches of industry. On the other hand, the chaotic nature of a bourgeois economy poses insurmountable problems for the consistent and planned use of industrial design data, and the principles of advertising often lead the designer to create articles in which a fashionable external appearance conceals an obsolete design. In contradistinction to this system, industrial design under socialism plays an important role in creating the best conditions for the work, everyday life, and leisure of people and in educating a harmoniously developed person and his communist attitude toward material, cultural and aesthetic values. Industrial design participates directly in shaping the conditions under which “art will inspire labor, adorn life, and ennoble man” (Program of the CPSU, 1976, p. 130).

The formation of conditions for the rise of design and the theory of design is associated with the age of the division and specialization of technology and art, the decline of artisan production, and the rise of industrial production. During this age the physical world gradually lost its unity, becoming increasingly diverse and eclectic. Artistic value was recognized only for a work of pure art, and a technical function was assigned to the products of industrial production. However, at the turn of the 20th century, the concept arose of the intrinsic beauty of machines and industrial structures. At the same time, the necessity was recognized of systematizing and reorganizing the entire physical world on the basis of the principles of harmonization. Under the influence of these concepts, in many nations a movement arose for a unity of art and technology, artistic-industrial unions appeared, and creative groups and schools were formed, for example, the Deutscher Werkbund and the Österreichische Werkbund.

On the broad social level, industrial design problems were first analyzed and given a deep and precise formulation after the Great October Socialist Revolution. The great attention given to these problems by the Soviet state is reflected, for example, in the decree of the Supreme Council on the National Economy of October 16, 1920, on the creation of the Art and Production Commission, which was attached to the Supreme Council on the National Economy. The commission was entrusted with the direction of all artistic activities in industry. With the organization of VKhUTEMAS (State Higher Arts and Technical Studios), the proizvodstvenniki (seePRODUCTION ART) became active in a new artistic movement, setting as their goal the merging of art with production and the reshaping of life according to the principles of beauty; they included the artists V. E. Tatlin, A. M. Rodchenko, and L. M. Lisitskii and the architects M. Ia. Ginzberg and the Vesnin brothers. At the same time, research was conducted on the scientific organization of labor (A. K. Gastev), and the principles of human engineering were established. As Soviet industry developed in the ensuing years, the theoretical concepts of the use of methods of artistic designing in industry were enriched by experience in shipbuilding, the automotive industry, railroad transport, and other sectors of industry.

Abroad, the most prominent scientific research and educational center of industrial design in the 1920’s and 1930’s was the Bauhaus, headed by W. Gropius, H. Meyer and L. Mies van der Rohe; it was disbanded after the rise of fascism in Germany. Virtually all its founders emigrated to different contries, and further scientific study of industrial design problems was only conducted by individual researchers. In the postwar period such research was resumed at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, Federal Republic of Germany, the Royal College of Art, Great Britain, and at several American universities.

The theoretical explorations of the 1920’s anticipated the present-day development of industrial design in many areas. However, the development of industrial design as an independent scientific discipline closely tied to practical needs began only in the 1960’s. It was then that the USSR formed a state system for organizing design aesthetics, which included the Ail-Union Scientific Research Institute of Industrial Design and its affiliates, special bureaus for design aesthetics in various sectors of industry, and subdivisions for design aesthetics at industrial enterprises and in design and research organizations. As a result, the scope of research broadened, and substantial qualitative changes emerged in design aesthetics. Increasing attention is being given to systems, rather than to individual objects, and to the complex ties between such systems and entire groups of people. This trend has confronted industrial design with tasks that simultaneously involve several sectors of industry and requires a systems approach to the problems being studied.

The leading industrial design organizations of the socialist countries, including the USSR, are members of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID). In the USSR, problems in industrial design are dealt with in the information bulletin Tekhnicheskaia estetika (Industrial Design) and other specialized publications. Abroad, prominent journals in the field include Promishlena estetika (Sofia, since 1969), Wiadomọści (Warsaw, since 1958), Design v teori a praxi: Bulletin (Prague, since 1969), Industrijsko oblikovanje i marketing (Belgrade, since 1971), Form + Zweck (Berlin, since 1969), Form (Opladen, Federal Republic of Germany, since 1967), Form (Stockholm, since 1905), Design Industrie (Paris, since 1952), Design (London, since 1949), and Industrial Design (New York, since 1954).


Voprosy tekhnicheskoi estetiki: Sb. st., vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1968–70.
Osnovy tekhnicheskoi estetiki: Rasshirennye tezisy. Moscow, 1970.
Trudy VNIITE: Tekhnicheskaia estetika, vols. 1–9. Moscow, 1971–75.
Begenau, S. H. Funktsiia, forma, kachestvo. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from German.)
Nelson, G. Problemy dizaina. Moscow, 1971. (Translated from English.)
Archer, L. B. Technological InnovationA Methodology. London, 1971.
Dorfles, G. Introduzione al disegno industriale: Linguaggio e storia della produzione di serie. Turin, 1972.
Maldonado, T. Avanguardia e razionalita: Articoli, saggi, pamphlets 1946–1974. Turin, 1974.
Noblet, J. Design: Introduction à l’histoire de l’evolution des formes industrielles de 1820 à aujourd’hui. Paris, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

industrial design

The art of utilizing the resources of technology to create and improve products and systems which serve human beings, taking into account factors such as safety, economy, and efficiency in production, distribution, and use. Such design may be expressed partly in external features, but predominantly in integrative structural relationships, responding to the perennial human need for meaningful form.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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