What does a Product Designer do?

Product Designer

One of the most sought after creative occupations for talented young people.
Find out what a Product Designer does and how to become one.

Product Designer


Look around you. Many of the objects you see and use on a daily basis have been ‘made’ by a product designer. That is because the product designer is the professional who is in charge of designing solutions for our everyday life, ranging from furniture elements to hi-tech, from accessories to household appliances.

However, regardless of what this design has to achieve, the starting point and center of their work is always the end user. That is, they begin with a detailed analysis of the characteristics and needs of the consumer – which may be functional but also psychological. They, then move on to the product conception phase and, through progressive fine-tuning, to the actual design. This is followed by the realisation of the prototype and testing of its features (ease of use, resistance, aesthetic appeal, etc.) until reaching the final version, which will be mass-produced or custom-made.

To become a product designer, it is necessary to have an undergraduate/postgraduate education in Product Design or Industrial Design. These types of courses allow, on the one hand, the acquisition of purely technical skills (e.g. knowledge of materials and production processes or the principles of ergonomics) and, on the other, in-depth study of those disciplines, such as sociology and psychology, that allow you to read and understand society. The training is complemented by the study of the history of design and art, which represents an essential substratum for product development.

The product designer is able to use their skills on the contemporary needs involving the new technology approaches of digital fabrication, IoT (Internet of Things), big data, NFT and innovative materials. Nowadays, Product Design is not only mass production, but also customization and tailor made, so it is crucial to be sustainable and cross-disciplinary to move through all the aspects of a project.

The product designer knows how to build a creative vision and develop a strategy to anticipate and deliver the client needs/expectations.

Very important are also the soft skills, starting with the ability to work in a team. The product designer works, in fact, in close contact with other professionals, who have different backgrounds, languages and ways of relating. It so happens that one day they are in close contact with materials engineers, whose approach is pragmatic, centered on practicality, and the next day they have to deal with creative people such as art directors. Another essential characteristic is curiosity. The product designer operates in an ever-changing environment and must always be up-to-date with social or technological innovations. In short, continuous learning is a way of life for product designers. Last but not least, there is an aptitude for problem solving: the process that leads from the analysis of consumer needs to the production of an object is studded with small and big problems. It is up to the product designer to identify them and tackle them effectively and creatively.

Among the most used software are Adobe Suite, AutoCAD, Rhinoceros, V-ray, KeyShot, Fusion360, which have become indispensable tools in the field. However, as technology evolves, new tools are emerging, primarily related to the development of the metaverse.

The product designer can be employed within a company, a professional studio, or a consultancy firm, or can work as a freelancer. In the first case, remuneration varies according to a number of variables, such as years of experience and the level of specialisation acquired in a certain field. In the second case, on the other hand, earnings are closely related to their activity, i.e. the number and type of projects undertaken.

The Master’s Programme in Product Design at Domus Academy offers a multi-disciplinary setting with an approach aimed to enrich, spread, and update the design culture while putting advanced knowledge in relation with visionary projects. The product designer develops know-how to work at the highest professional levels, from new perspectives. The product designer has the chance to study in an environment with an innovative spirit originating from the leading Italian designers who founded Domus Academy, based on a learning by design approach, developing a disruptive and visionary philosophy, moving from the idea to the project, interpreting the present, exploring new possible futures.

The Master is addressed to graduates and/or professionals in the field of interior design, product design, architecture, engineering, visual arts or other disciplines related to this field of study.

There are two types of Master in Product Design at Domus Academy. The Academic Master (60 ECTS credits) is developed over 5 modules, a curricular internship and a final project workshop and it allows to gain an Academic Master’s Degree accredited by the Ministry of University and Research (MUR), a qualification recognised in Europe and worldwide, as well as a Domus Academy Master Diploma. With the Double Award Master (90 ECTS credits), students have the opportunity to integrate the course of study consisting of 5 modules, a curricular internship and final project workshop, with additional lessons and a more in-depth individual project thesis. With the Double Award Master, students can obtain an Academic Master recognized by the MUR and, in addition, a Master of Arts officially recognized by the British system (Privy Council) and issued by Regent’s University London.

Besides the 2 types of Master, students can chose the 2-year Master of Arts in Design Innovation (120 credits), which offers an innovative vision and approach to creativity and the design industry. Its objective is to establish and anticipate cross-cultural directions of multi-faceted themes. Through a mix of workshops, seminars, specialized laboratories, and bootcamps, students will explore technology throughout, including virtual, augmented, and extended reality, artificial intelligence, Web 3.0, and the ecologies of materials.

The 2-year Master of Arts in Design Innovation is adressed to young professional who are interested in innovation and new directions in the practice of design. Candidates should hold a first-level degree in product design, architecture, or a related design field.

The Master in Product Design at Domus Academy covers the theoretical courses in Design Culture, Design Formation, Business for Design, Professional Accelerator Activities, as well as the workshops in Envisioning and in Advanced Design & Processes; moreover, an elective workshop to be chosen among Product Strategy, Experience Design, Identity Design, Entrepreneurship through Design, Tangible Interactions and Service Design.

The 2-year Master of Arts in Design Innovation at Domus Academy covers – for the first year – the courses in Design Methodology, History of Design, Contemporary Design History of Design and History of Art, the workshops in Design – Method and Context, New Design Contexts, Strategies for New Contexts and Visual Communication. Furthermore, the applied labs in Design Tools Applied, Innovation in Materials and Technology and Design Laboratory 1.

The second-year programme includes Art Direction and Design Beyond Design, two activities to be chosen among the Design Management course, the Accelerator Boot camp and the Generative Design boot camp, as well as the workshops in Design and Complexity, Alternative Design Contexts and Light Design. Lastly, the applied lab New Tools and Relationships and Design Laboratory 2 and the final thesis with a Degree Project.

The Master in Product Design at Domus Academy offers an interdisciplinary and intercultural pathway with a more design-oriented part developed in collaboration with cutting-edge companies in the fields of design, engineering and business, while exploring new territories for integrating design, technology and new methods of production.

The Master trains professionals to create and elaborate projects for different sectors, on a local and international scale. Participants develop skills to meet the demands of design studios, architecture and design firms, research environments, or to start an entrepreneurial career as product designer, industrial designer, package designer, product engineer e product manager.

The 2-year Master of Arts in Design Innovation prepares students for a career as product/strategic designer, materials innovator, design director, R&D and process innovator, innovation & transformation manager, extended reality design specialist, generative design expert and user experience designer. It will also prepare you to begin a PhD programme in the design area.

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