Every year, we host a group of Students from the Carleton University School of Industrial Design. We’re always so focused on hosting this event that we forget to share our insights that come from such an enriching experience. To preempt ourselves, we asked our friend Sarah Wright from yes-and.studio to capture our collective experience and insights.

At the center of any great product design is a commitment to the community. Without consideration for people and the public interest, products (as we know and love today) wouldn’t exist. To build a better future, it is not only the responsibility of companies to design products that enhance society but to create space and foster connections with up-and-coming talent.

Founded in 1982, GPD’s award-winning studio has over 37 years of experience developing impactful innovations for leading companies, including Paradigm, Shopify, and Corsa. This ineffable expertise is not only valuable to prospective clients but the discipline as a whole, including a group of 3rd-year students from Carleton University’s Industrial Design who joined the team for a day of candid conversations, networking, and growth opportunities.

“Our team at GPD are all graduates of Carleton University’s Industrial Design program. By engaging with the students, as both instructors and mentors, we can empower the next generation of emerging talent,” says partner and designer, Colin Roberts.

Community is at the core of the industrial design process. To further develop the profession, there is a need for experts to engage the imagination of students in a way that is real-world, interactive and inspiring.

“As a student designer, there are aspects of what it looks like to work as a professional designer that are new and unfamiliar to me. Having the chance to experience what happens within a consultancy was helpful in understanding the industry’s nuances,” says Eric Whyte.

Seeing first-hand how their continued education correlates with success is also a strong motivator for students in the program.

“Receiving advice, feedback, and mentorship from professionals provides perspective on the work I am doing in school and what skills I should focus on developing while I am a student. In a sense, it grounds my academic work by providing professional context,” says Sophie Nakashima.

Mentorship is even more meaningful, given the rapidly changing face of the industry.

“As we observe an evolution in our profession toward a fast-paced, highly iterative, and responsive process, we are seeing a parallel among design students,” notes Roberts. “While students have access to all the relevant tools they need to be successful in our profession, including 3D printers and prototyping equipment, success in industrial design requires the ability to think critically and a strong sense of empathy.”

Looking forward, consumers’ continued desire for innovation in products and improved product styles will sustain the demand for industrial designers. With environmental issues dominating the headlines, industrial designers are in a prime position to make a positive impact in their communities in more than one way.

“As our society evolves toward a more sustainable future, we can make a substantial impact by applying our knowledge of materials, processes, and user expectations. This shift will increasingly require the designer to plan for stewardship, repair, disassembly, and recycling,” says Roberts.

Gibson Product Design is committed to meeting the challenges of the future not only through innovation but by supporting designers at all levels of their career.

The team clearly recognizes that when it comes to shaping the future of design, they play a central role.

– Sarah Wright