Execution: Each aspect of design is an integral part of the entire process. “As lead designer, for example, your design may be chosen for the next generation of interior of a Chevrolet. You are therefore responsible for guiding the project from conception to production with a team,” explains Windham, who was recently tasked with redesigning the next generation of Chevrolet Malibus. Key to executing a successful design includes understanding the vehicle being replaced, branding, and competitive placement. She says, “It’s important to remain true to each brands’ character and design heritage. A vehicle is a second home. As such, it’s important that it’s both comfortable and user-friendly.” It’s essential that the designers consider what the vehicle wants to be in the market and to its customers, she insists.
Talents/Skills: Like any creative professionals, designers sometimes hit roadblocks. Along with sketching and design judgement, Windham says strong on-the-spot problem-solving abilities are necessary. “You must be flexible, open-minded, and think outside the box to find solutions.” Windham also emphasizes the importance of working well with colleagues across disciplines. “Other divisions such as design, marketing, and finance also have their contributions and are stakeholders, so you have to work with them and take into account their concerns and how it relates to the design of the car and whether it pleases the customer.”
Advice for Aspiring Industrial Designers: Making the leap from artist to industrial design can be daunting. “Do your research, ask questions, and find out what career options are available in various fields. Following this path allowed me to do something I love and enjoy.” The industrial design field is a competitive one. Windham advises, “There is a good deal of constructive criticism, so you have to be open-minded to their candid feedback, use what you need and move forward.”
Opportunities for Work: Opportunities abound in the field of industrial design. Career options include exterior designer, focused on elements such as wheels, lights, and mirrors. Interior design is directed toward areas that include screen, audio, heating units, steering wheels, and gear shifts. Exhibit designers work on the environmental and vehicle layout of GM cars at auto shows. Car and trim designers forecast the next coveted colors for the future and ensure that components such as fabric and interior materials are aligned with the overall design.
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