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Rusty Lay, IDSA

Associate Professor of Industrial Design, Auburn University

Rusty Lay, IDSA

Rusty transitioned into academia at Auburn University's School of Industrial and Graphic Design in 2015. Prior to professing design, he worked in the design industry for over a decade, designing power tools, furniture, electronics, medical equipment and more. He has worked in corporate and consulting design worlds and ran a design consultancy with his brother from 2005 – 2012. He holds over a dozen utility and design patents and has designed many products available on the market. He loves teaching in the studio environment and has focused his research sustainable system design related to community and familial resilience.

Proposal to Turn the Semantic Tide: Industrial Design to UX Physical & UX Intersection

Education Symposium

Rapid Fire Group A

August 25, 2023

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM


We have just described the most efficient route of communication of who Industrial Designers are: Industrial Designers are UX Designers for the physical world, the original UX designer. Industrial Designers now dabble in the digital world, and perhaps more importantly, into the intersection of those two worlds. Perhaps industrial designers have the greatest potential to be the best UX Designers at the intersection of digital and physical worlds. Why? UX only designers, without an ID or more extensive design background are focused almost solely on the digital product. Are all digital interfaces on smart devices that are merely capacitive touch glass slabs? There are hundreds of millions of smartphones and smart wearables in use today and most of them are primarily the capacitive touch glass slab with 90+% of UI within the digital interface. However, there are also millions of products with a much greater diversity – Autos, riding lawnmowers, toaster ovens, toothbrushes, exercise equipment, battery backup systems, doorbells, and countless others, that fall at the intersection of physical and digital. We could ask: Would the UX designer, trained in digital interface and digital experience design and hired to design the digital interface and experience, ask the question: Would this particular function be better for the user if it were a physical dial rather than a menu selection? Would the Industrial Designer ask that question? I argue that the Industrial Designer would ask that question first and a good industrial designer should always be asking these types of questions.

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