Anyone else scratching their head?

http://www.forbes.com/lifestyle/2005/12/05/tastemakers-industrial-designers-cx_tm_1206taste_ls.html

Burt Rutan is an industrial designer?

He is indeed a designer. And a pretty impressive one… although he comes at it from another field. Maybe not in the traditional sense…

Actually a pretty good list for a first crack. There is however one name on there that is not proven. Has not had successful product after successful product. Has not impacted the world or consumer in a large way. Has not sold volumes of their designs or made a brand successful. And, in fact, whose design work only truly benefits one person in the end (and it ain’t the client) but continues to be promoted as one of the most impactful designers around today. Can you guess who?

My opinion is that McDonough makes the rest of the pack look like fools.

The rest of those people are churning junk that’ll be thrown out in a year. I’d like to see how much of obselete crap in the world each one of those guys is reponsible for. There should be point deductions for that.

My point is that while Rutan is indeed a “designer”, he’s not an Industrial Designer. He would be more appropriately grouped in with aerospace engineers.

Thing is, as an aero, I never considered myself an industrial designer (if I had, I’d not have returned to get another degree). None of my aerospace friends consider themselves industrial designers. Why then does the media include someone who is clearly not an Industrial Designer. And why does the Industrial Design community seem to jump to include someone like Rutan if not because it merely provides a sense of legitimacy?

I have an overwhelming respect for Mr. Rutan. I neither want to see the ID community ride on the coat tails of his accomplishments, nor do I want to see the ID profession become so porous that it has no meaning.

(answer to question: the woman with McDonough?)

Why does the media consider architects, interior designers and graphic designers as industrial designers?

Sometimes I think that IDSA should have accreditation…

Elitist folly.

Have you ever seen any of the Scaled Composite aircraft? Beautiful and functional, they are much better examples of good design than some of the “designed” consumer goods.

Some architects are better at furniture than buildings. Some engineers are better at human factors than some ID’ers. It’s all about talent. Etc., etc., etc…

:)ensen.

There is little to no ID in SpaceShip one. Rutan is no more an industrial designer than I am an aersopace engineer. The man can’s sketch to save his life, and he knows even less about form and art.

There’s no aethetic design going on there folks… Maybe the logo. Typically, there’s very little ID in this extreme cutting-edge aeroscape engineering - it’s about function, not form. If cubes covered with warts and cottage cheese flew faster and more efficiently than other forms, that’s what they’d use!!

I mean, take a look at it: a bulbous dumpy looking craft… It’s gangly, and the windows look like warts… It’s all function.

Anyone can call themselves an Industrial Designer because Industrial Design as a field is ill defined and poorly marketed. That, dear friends, is the fault of all ID participants from the IDSA to students to schools to the companies that employ them.


To continue promoting the stereotype of designer as style merchant does not do justice to those that have other skills.

Products can’t happen without engineering constraints. Charles and Ray worked within the limits of plywood, Bangle must still produce vehicles that pass safety regulations, Hadid must design structures that will not fall down.

The Voyager that sits in the Smithsonian is not just functional as a long-distance flyer, but beautiful as well. The various aerodynamic elements were configured by Rutan… you have to give him credit for that.

Put another way, if iPod didn’t work, would it still be an iCon?

:)ensen.

There is however one name on there that is not proven. Has not had successful product after successful product. Has not impacted the world or consumer in a large way. Has not sold volumes of their designs or made a brand successful. And, in fact, whose design work only truly benefits one person in the end (and it ain’t the client) but continues to be promoted as one of the most impactful designers around today. Can you guess who?

??who?? :open_mouth:

The original post asked “Burt Rutan is an Industrial Designer?”

My statement isn’t that all designers are style merchants - it’s that Industrial Designer are. There are always exceptions to the rule - but on average, ID is not engineering - nor is interior design or fashion design…

“The Voyager that sits in the Smithsonian is not just functional as a long-distance flyer, but beautiful as well. The various aerodynamic elements were configured by Rutan… you have to give him credit for that.”

No, not at all. Burt Rutan engineered a wonderful, functional vehicle. He did not act as an Industrial Designer in this capacity, and I can tell you that the fact that it’s “beautiful” had absolutely nothing to do with it’s purpose or intent - it’s (arguable) beauty is just the nature of what it is… You can call him a “Designer”, but designer is a broad term that applies to many fields - he did not seriously prioritize aesthetics when creating this thing, thus he is not an Industrial Designer.

The iPod is the conglomeration of Industrial Designers (who did the aesthetics and concept) and the Product Design ENGINEERS at Apple, who made it actually function, dealt with the reality of materials choices, and made it manufacturable. These are different fields…

if ID’ers want to be engineers, that’s fine too - there’s a lot of cross-polilination. But in the end, the job of ID is style merchant until the education, training and focus change.

Burt Rutan is a fine aerospace designer. He’s no Industrial Designer.


in the end, the job of ID is style merchant until the education, training and focus change.

I agree with you, Rutan is not an IDer. A visionary, infuencial, and a great business man. However while and IDer should posses these qualities, possessing these qualities does not an IDer make. (especially as one of the top ten designers?? this is a stretch, and makes me feel slighted for not making the list. Did they run out of true IDers?)

I disagree with the above quote however. IDers do impart style, but that cannot be the dividing point of ID vs. engineering or other fields. If you attended an ID program (other than an ‘art academy’) aesthetics are just a facet of the design education. I find ‘stlye monkey’ to be an insult, not a definition of my trade.

Well- what is it that ID brings to the table that is distinctly ID? The two factors I can think of are

  1. Style 2) the combination of skills from different fields.

1 is shaky and flaky, and 2 is shaky when marketers and engineers start learning user research, ergonomics and good taste.

So then I would say that Rutan is an IDer simply because ID does not have a fixed definition. The crux of it is that we have an easier time considering Style Monkeys as IDers while excluding elegant problem solvers who approach solutions from a functional angle from the fold. I would consider an individual who used a multi-disciplinary knowledge base to solve problems to be an IDer. As far as I can see Rutan makes decisions not purely on function but biased with a personal aesthetic… He has a personal style that you can see in the aircraft he designs.

“Industrial design (ID) is the professional service of creating and developing concepts and specifications that optimize the function, value and appearance of products and systems for the mutual benefit of both user and manufacturer.”

IDSA definition. Rutan fits the definition as far as I am concerned. but then so do the Teutel brothers from American Chopper (scary).

While someone has already said it, I’ll repeat it: I’m not “promoting the stereotype of designer as style merchant” at all. I used “Industrial Designer” the entire title with caps for a reason.

I know IDers who do some engineering. Professional engineers would be rightly dismayed should those industrial designers put “Engineer” on their resume. There’s nothing “elitist” about this imo.

I’d add at least the following:

  1. Understanding of how users will use AND misuse a product (something I doubt Rutan seriously considers to the extent an industrial designer would)

That Rutan imparts a personal style makes him more artist than designer imo. I doubt he’s wondering if others will purchase his product based on appearance. I doubt he’s considering what happens when some unqualified person attempts to operate his vehicles or decides to use it for something other than it’s intended purpose. More importantly, merely having a debate on his inclusion should be troubling. When Forbes posts a list of “Top Ten Engineers”, there’s little doubt of their qualification. When they post other similar lists of occupational stars, there’s still mostly no confusion. Yet when a reader sees that Burt Rutan is an Industrial Designer, what understanding of the occupation do they walk away with?

How did Starck sink so low on the list???

50 to 100 years from now who will be remembered as a great designer/artist as Picasso is remembered now???

Starck

maybe Ive, maybe Rutan - Rashid will be a footnote with the Oh chair (it’s a cool chair, it is the only “great” thing he’s done)

Kelly from IDEO is a very smart guy, but his knick nacks are really only more “ergonomic”,

Starck’s stuff is genius, and there’s so much of it, and who cares if it doesn’t work, it is so cool no one cares, they still manufacture it and buy it -

What other designer can be successful with products that don’t often work?? that is a true mark of a genius, and he will be the only one on the list who is not a footnote in 100 years.

I should add -

what makes starck’s stuff so successful is the aesthetics - he consistently is 5 years ahead of the industry, and he does it in a signature style - no other designer has a style which you can recognize immediately (well not living) - it is the mark of a true genius.

I agree with Starck being too low. Not many other independents have had such an impact on the bottom line of businesses or inspired the masses. He is consistently defining trend. Not to mention creating experiences that far outlast the individual item.

Burt is a designer. He creates amazing things that make people dream. Quit limiting the definition of a designer. All great designers transcend their specific industries and branch. Sign of true creative genius. If all you want to be is a backroom industrial designer that designs one kind of thing day in and day out for the rest of their life… with no broad impact on strategy or the brand experience… or creating your own design and manufacturing brand… that is cool.

As far as great designers not needing business sense or manufacturing/engineering knowledge. That is crap. Only truly great designers understand how things can be made thoroughly. By understanding limitations they can change and bend the rules. Same goes for business sense. Being able to see the connections between disparate technologies, partners, consumer needs and markets to create something new… Being able to apply that same product development process to a business model… That’s right designing a business, it’s launch strategy and buzz creation… Seeding and networking your product and business with influencers… Too many great so-called design stars don’t understand the reality of business either. It is a balance of all these aspects that makes a great designer… or rather design innovator and entrepreneur.

"I disagree with the above quote however. IDers do impart style, but that cannot be the dividing point of ID vs. engineering or other fields. If you attended an ID program (other than an ‘art academy’) aesthetics are just a facet of the design education. I find ‘stlye monkey’ to be an insult, not a definition of my trade

The question comes up “What does ID offer that other Design related fields don’t”

I concur that my ID training has qualified me for more than merely “style merchant”. I’ll add “Creative Thinker”, “Project Manager”, “Visual Communicator”, “Design Process Applier”, “2D & 3D (Computer) Illustrator” “Model Maker”, and “Sketch Artist”.

…the issue is, minus “Sketch Artist” and “Style Merchant”, all of these traits are taught and embodied in nearly all other design fields, most notably: Design Engineering!

If an employer can go out and hire a “Design Engineer” - someone who has been trained in the “Design Process”, along with a good amount of mechanical engineering, computers, CAD/CAM, electronics, and manufacturing - why would anyone hire an Industrial Designer?

Here’s a kicker: MIT and Stanford (amongst other schools) are increasingly offering Design Engineers a hefty courseload in sketching and the design process, blurring the lines even more.

So, if I can get a Design Engineer with vastly superior technical training that also knows an equally sufficient amount about the creative/conceptual design process: why ID?

Sketching and Visual Communications. Style.

This isn’t evil: it’s a choice. We should embrace and run with it. If this is our specialty, let’s frickin OWN IT and sell it. Otherwise, we’re superfluous.

Now _that_is interesting…

So, if I can get a Design Engineer with vastly superior technical training that also knows an equally sufficient amount about the creative/conceptual design process: why ID?

Sketching and Visual Communications. Style.

This isn’t evil: it’s a choice. We should embrace and run with it. If this is our specialty, let’s frickin OWN IT and sell it. Otherwise, we’re superfluous.

and not because I agree, but it’s certainly one reason why ID is so hard to define. We couldn’t own visual communication, anyway. It’s necessary for architecture, graphics, fashion, advertising, cartoonists… even the Hollywood types.

Personally, I welcome the broadness of it all. It makes it easier to cross over from one thing to another. And, it makes for great conversation at cocktail parties.

I think that what people don’t realize is that I’m not limiting “design”, I’m limiting “Industrial Design” the occupation. I’m using it as an occupational field and a title for people working primarily in that field. Burt Rutan can put an “industrial design” hat on at times, of course, but that does not make him an Industrial Designer; it’s not his occupation (by far).

When I design fans and put on my aerospace engineering hat (which I’m qualified to do as someone with a BSc Aerospace Engineering), in no way do I consider that sufficient effort for me to wind up on any Top Ten Aerospace Engineers list - even if I made some accidental breakthrough. Why not? Respect for the field. Aerospace engineering is not a trivial undertaking. And no one is handing out Best Aerospace Engineer awards to people making really good paper airplanes. It’s not my primary occupation and it’s as far from that as Burt Rutan is from Industrial Design.

Maybe part of the problem is that too many Industrial Designers take too naturally to the occupation and don’t fully comprehend just how difficult it is. Or maybe some degreed IDers don’t fully even understand the field; I’m not sure I fully grasped it for a few years after graduation.

By it’s nature, it touches on everything. Are we now all up for Top Marketing/Advertising/Engineering/etc awards? No. Should people in those other fields suddenly be up for Top Industrial Designer of the Year awards (an occupational award - not a “put the hat on” award)? Not in my opinion.

Please don’t go off on “design”. The question raised is in regard to Industrial Design in an occupational sense, which is how the Forbes article reads.