Design: Industrial, Graphic, Fashion


The enourmous success of Apple and its aesthetically satisfying products shows us just how influential good design can be. Without wishing to over-generalise, the average product designer has three goals in mind when working on a project:

To make it aesthetically pleasing
It must efficiently and effectively perform its function
The project must be economically viable in terms of its production costs
Design is a highly desired career no matter what the sector (industrial, graphic, fashion) and as such, competition for a position is normally high. On the other hand, the public’s desire for innovative, attractive, and user-friendly products shows no sign of slowing down. Of course in addition to this, any well-designed product also needs impressive branding and identity design to help it sell. . .



Also known as Visual Communications, Graphic Design is concerned with the creation of imagery, logos, and typeface on everything from book jackets to online advertising and billboard posters. Degree courses in this subject include modules on Introduction to Design Software, Typography, Web Design, Photography, and Image Making/Illustration.

Graphic Design is now available as a Level 5 Certificate in numerous PLC colleges around the country. Courses at higher and further levels, such as Digital Media, Multimedia, and Web Design/Development all feature a significant Graphic Design component.

Industrial (or Product) Designers are those who work with engineers in designing and producing material goods: anything from a toilet freshener to a lawnmower. Degree courses are multidisciplinary, introducing learners to all the processes – such as CAD (computer-aided design), model making, engineering, manufacturing, and marketing – involved in bringing a product from conception to the marketplace. Innovation and problem-solving are key aspects of industrial design courses.

Those wishing to start their own design business will be interested by IT Carlow’s BA in Product Design Innovation: a four-year programme that combines design modules with entrepreneurial skills for small- to medium-sized businesses.

Students who wish to specialise in Furniture Design will find relevant degree programmes in DIT and Galway-Mayo IT. There are also several PLC colleges that provide a dedicated FETAC Level 5 Certificate.
Degrees in Fashion are available from Griffith College Dublin (GCD), Limerick IT, and NCAD (National College of Art & Design) – with the latter two options accessed by direct entry. Besides design skills such as drawing and pattern cutting, students also acquire practical business knowledge of the fashion industry in areas such as manufacturing and marketing. A full-time, three-year Diploma in Fashion

Design is given by the Grafton Academy of Dress Design. The course provides full professional training for the Irish and international dress trade.

A number of FETAC Level 5 Certificates are also available. Besides Fashion Design, which is a good preparation for traineeships and entry-level positions, courses are also available in areas such as Fashion Buying and Textile Design. Graphic and Fashion Design courses generally require applicants to supply a portfolio of art work, so make sure to contact your intended college for further details.


The Work

Designers will often work as a part of a team that might include, for example, other designers, engineers, marketers, or production technicians. The ability to work effectively with others is therefore highly desirable.

While creativity is an invaluable part of any designer’s artillery (‘art-illery’, get it?), a large portion of the early years of a designer’s career may well consist of attempting to meet the criteria of a product brief that’s been handed down from management or senior designers. In such cases, the ability to effectively follow instructions and pay attention to detail can be even more important than a flair for colour or patterns.

Did you know?

Carolyn Davidson, the designer of the Nike ‘Swoosh’ symbol, was still a student when she created the famous symbol. She charged the company $35 for her work.


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