As was mentioned elsewhere (Er, Ö., 1991; Er, H. A., 1994 and Er and Er, 2006), industrial design first emerged on an educational level in the early 1970s, prior to its actual practice.
“As in many other peripheral countries, the introduction of industrial design into Turkey was associated with a view based on the “Modernist Development Paradigm” (Bonsiepe, 1991), and the industrial design education was imported from the countries such as the USA and Germany (see Er, H.A. et al., 2003). Long before the new product design needs of the Turkish industry materialized, industrial design schools had been planned in order to meet the future demand which was expected to emerge as a result of the import substituting industrialization strategies of the ‘60s and ‘70s” (Er and Er, 2006).
The first academic institution with an industrial design program in Turkey was the State Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul. Industrial design education was started in the Academy in the early 1970s (Er and Er, 2006).
The Turkish higher education system underwent a major restructuring in 1982 and this move transformed many things radically, including the academic organization of the faculty and its departments, as well as academic promotion requirements. For instance, the State Academy of Fine Arts was incorporated into a new university (Marmara University), and industrial design was relocated under the Faculty of Architecture like the newly established Industrial Design department of the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara. As part of the same restructuring initiative, the first MSc and PhD programs in industrial design were established in 1982 at the Mimar Sinan University (formerly the State Academy of Fine Arts and currently Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University). Given the short history of industrial design in Turkey, the establishment of the first PhD program was surprisingly early. Nevertheless, it must be noted that the establishment of these programs were neither motivated academically, nor demanded by the industry but simply enforced bureaucratically by the Turkish Higher Education Council (YÖK) (Er, 1998; Er and Bayazıt, 1999; Er and Er, 2006). This situation has been defined as a peculiarity of the Turkish higher education system (Er and Er, 2006). In the late 1980s, in addition to MSU, both ITU and Marmara University started their master’s programs in industrial design and later in the 1990s, their PhD programs. The early ‘90s witnessed an increase in the number of master and doctoral studies in industrial design (Korkut et al., 1998).
The early industrial design departments in the state funded Marmara University, Mimar Sinan University (currently Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) and Istanbul Technical University (ITU) have been followed by industrial design departments in private universities, the first of which was the Yeditepe University (est. 1996).
The first industrial design department in a private university has been followed by many new departments in both private and state funded universities scattered around the three major cities of Turkey – Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – but also at universities in some other developing cities with an industrial production background, such as Eskişehir, Kayseri and Gaziantep. At some of these universities, industrial design departments are located within faculties of fine arts or within faculties of architecture. A new development for Turkey has been the formation of art and design faculties in some universities and locating industrial design within these faculties.