Could one become good at BOTH Design and Engineering?

Alot of people seem to want to avoid mixing the two professions, but the question is:

Could someone be good at both the technical know-how and the aesthetic element of the product?

Could the status of a Complete Product Designer ever be achieved?

There is a lot of room for the person that knows a lot about both sides of the fence. I call it transition design. Taking what the art side of ID does and translating it so that the tech side of Engineering buys it.

At the end of the day…one might call this person a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. Good room for debate on this one.

ummm beg to differ, but “master of none” is FIGHTING WORDS… :laughing: HOw can you “design” with out knowing how to build? HOW? The more you know about engineering the better designer you are.

I’ve worked with people in the furniture business that seem to have a firm grasp of both disciplines. Designers who make beautiful looking pieces who push the limits of their materials and mechanisms etc… I see it working within a specialty or a niche. My 2 cents.

Didn’t say “I”…said “some”.

I fall in this catagory of having a foot firmly planted in the engineering side of design…plastics in particular.

Just my experience traversing the DMZ between ID and Engineering.

yes bubba we be a rare breed :slight_smile:

I knew some car designers who style only.

I think one of the attributes about designers is “curiosity”, which leads to finding out how something works.

Once I visited a very experienced designer. His desk was littered with eletronic parts. He was building a working prototype of a new product, so I asked him if he has electrical engineering background. He said no, but said after being in the business for a while, you just get used to it.

guess the question is really - what do you by “good” in either design/technical". ?

For sure I’d say some knowledge of the technical is important and helpful for all kinds of designers. That technical knowledge being either manufacturing processes, the mechanics of the intended use, or the psychology of the user (to name only a few).

vice versa, an appreciation for “non-technical” considerations of form, color, consumerism, use, and aesthetics are likewise important for someone working on the technical side of things to appreciate.

in practice, however, i think there is a degree to which some cross-over of knowledge can actually hurt the design process. master of none, perhaps, but of the most clever solutions i’ve seen from design, many come from a designer pushing the limits of the technology, thanks in part to some naivite.

guess its a fuzzy boundary of knowledge and flip sides of technical vs. artistic considerations in the end, and for sure a different balance may be beneficial depending on the product, category, situation and individual.

to stoke the coals a bit however, i think ive likely seen more terrible solutions from engineers that think they are designers, than designers that think they are engineers. in most product design processes, there is usually a technical team that get into the details in coordination with “design”. too often bad products do result from a technical team doing the “design” themselves.


yup with time you learn, and auto designers well let face it they are so complex now that the time for design and engineering are long past. I still think though that its imcumbent on any person who calls themselfs a designer to know how to build/engineer other wise its just art.

I disagree.

A great designer (artist), working with a great engineer can make a great product. Both will challenge each other. Probably piss each other off immensely. But at the end of the day, most design environments aren’t one man gigs. Specialized skillsets have a purpose. In fact I tend to find that having that polarity between disciplines is what creates some truly amazing products.

I find…from experience…that straddling the lines between disciplines tends to make your thinking very “safe”. Not bad…just not boundary pushing necessarily.

Now that I work with a team that is very discipline specific…as in I can really focus on ID and pushing those boundaries because I know that EE or Mech will kick my ass, I create stuff I wouldn’t have when I did more line straddling.

Maybe, MAYBE however thats the luxury that comes from doing “client” work you get to play with other people $$$. As to dual hat’s taking the safe road, bullshit, the more you know about materials, processes, engineering the farther you can push WITH OUT doing dumb shit and waisting clien (or yours) on fairy dust “products” that are unbuildable, unsellable or un workable. Most designers are so clueless they cant even call bullshit on the engineering team when they say “nope”.

Its the “dumb shit” that is the core to every great idea. not engineering, specs, technical wizardry or other nonsense.



I think he does ok on both sides of the fence

dont believe everything you see on tv. guarantee that he did not do all the design/engineering alone. the lone dude at the drafting table is a marketing myth…


point taken

how abour some examples of “dumbshit” stuff that has “won”.

mostly because the engineers bulit stuff, designer just rhino/alias up some unobtianium utopian fairy dust dream, never having to prove there thing will even function.

you know thats not really true, i hope.


Well color me a marketing myth then.