Traditional roles of product/industrial designers are being challenged as manufacturing decreases in developed economies. Design educators are faced with the question: for what roles should we seek to equip our students? And which stakeholders are best placed to discern this? Is it employers wanting job-ready graduates for today's positions, or educators informed by emerging international understandings of what designers may be called upon to do in the future? This paper describes two models developed to articulate and analyse these issues: • The Triple Axes Model, which shows the competing priority continuums along which various forms of design practice and education are situated. • The Design Development Wave, which shows the relationship between the 'front end' and 'back end' aspects of design practice, where 'front end' aspects are seen as initial phases of problem identification, design research and design opportunity analysis, and 'back end' aspects are identified as more detailed manufacturing stages. Both models are important in conceptualising the tensions underpinning the current ambiguities of the product/industrial design profession. They help build the key elements, shared nomenclature and theoretical relationships needed for dialogue about, and development of, new approaches to design education and design practice.