Do engineers really "design" anything?

What’s your point? No one’s saying that designers don’t need engineers or that designers are better than engineers. You’ve strayed off the topic.

I am not strayed of the topic, Whatever I have written proves that yes engineers do design, they also solve problem through design,etc…End… the threads ends here.

“The engineer has been, and is, a maker of history”
James Kip Finch.

Wow. Wrong again. You are saying that designers do nothing more than make stuff visually appealing and would make nothing if not for engineers? I call bs. Many products worked on by industrial designers may have no engineering component at all.

Again, where are you coming from? I think you are very misinformed!


I can understand the frustration that many engineers have. I strongly disagree with the notion that engineers do not design. Styling is NOT the only definition of industrial design. True it is a point of differentiation, but hopefully it is not the only thing that we bring to the table. Engineers might not be as involved in the front end because they have to implement designs. I do a crap load of “engineering” in my line of work and come up with internal mechanisms that help me style easier. If you do the leg work at the front end, to make sure that the user experience is good, and the internals are elegent, then the style elements can fall into place much easier and without forcing them into place. I have come up with balancing mechanisms, gear boxes, heck even gears and plenty of product architecture in addition to designing VBLs. Engineering is not complicated- most complicated things can be broken down into understandable chunks. Conversely ID is not complicated either- and we dont have to say that it is to justify our work.

So why say that an engineer cant design?? Engineering at an intrinsic level is design. Take Red Cameras. What could an IDer contribute here? The knee-jerk is to come in- unify visual flow, maybe bring in some material differentiation, if we were to style it in the manner of a Canon or Nikon. Obviously though you can see that the camera has a very strong emotional following that derives primarily from the technology, but also from the strong material choices and construction methods that the designers came up with. To make the RED better, ID cant add a veneer, ID has to delve into the guts themselves and make them more elegent, which is a large part of what Ives and gang do. The work at Confederate Motorcycles is also a good example of the confluence of the engineer and designer

I encourage our engineers to think and practice like designers. If one of them notices a design element that we used outside and implements it inside, I commend the attention to detail- but it is even better when he/she comes up with elegant solutions that are intrinsically beautiful/functional. One of my directors is a former engineer, who does not have a formal ID degree. He draws some of the clearest most communicative sketches I have had the pleasure of working with. The difference is that ID is a practise- you have to practise the profession (very much like business) to be any good. I learnt squat from school that I could not have picked up online and more importantly in the field. The difference is simply a matter of drive and practise. The dullards who lacked imagination in college still lack the imagination later.

+1 in agreement with lmo. The engineers who silo themselves are idiots as are the IDers who insist on doing the same

We’re tilting at semantic windmills here folks…

Someone hit it on the head in another discussion,

As designers we are very diverse, and we should be open minded to other people’s ways of working, taking what we can, and building on each other’s strengths, not putting each other down. What matters is the results.

rkuchinsky I think you are one of those designers who are creative but absolutely zero in intelligence when I have written visually pleasing, I don’t mean only that but yes it is very important aspect of ID which sells the product whether it is a product with function or just a showpiece.

Today it is possible to make any product whether it has difficult contours or innovative technology inside it because of advancement of engineering and technology designed by engineers, whether it is tool design by mechanical engineers or materials by materials engineer or this website whose program is designed by a software professsional, so nothing to do with ID the question was “DO Engineers Design” then answer is yes, and that is what I have written…

If engineers would have not designed than the cars you drive would have taken ages to come out of factory, Motorsports would have struck at 50 mph only, theme parks that you go and enjoy are mechanical marvels…and not to mention electricity, planes, computers, water that you get in your taps from lakes, roads are safe to drive because of their design and calculations behind them,softwares that you design your concepts…and many many more…

You are out of line. Please refrain from personal attacks or you will banned.

Disagreements or different points of view are tolerated, insults are not. Consider yourself warned.


Wow, this took a left turn at Albuquerque eh?

@ aspire5920: calm down or you will be banned promptly. Your choice, pick. This is a design forum. We welcome diverse points of view, but not disrespect. Take the blinders off, its a big world. Which is why I assume you are on a DESIGN forum? And I mean DESIGN, not engineering.

@ LMO, thanks for the shout out.

Right now, all any of us are proving is the fact that word design itself is overused for too many activities in the product development process… which if you read, is kind of the point of the entire argument.

All of the “design” activities that have been attributed to engineers in this discussion could also be called “engineering” activities. Engineering has the ability to use both words. But when a designer is perfecting the surface of a vehicle, or figuring out ergonomics conflict on an interior, he most likely would not say he is “engineering it”, design is the better word there… though maybe with the ergonomics issue he could say he is engineering it?

Fact is, it takes a lot of diverse skill sets to bring a fantastic product to market. Don’t forget, someone had to design the supply chain for anything to get to the factory, and someone had to design the distribution strategy. Are sourcing and costing specialists designers? No. Is their creative problem solving vital to bringing a product to market? Yes.

Clear as mud?

I thought so. Welcome to the real world.

Well put Yo. I think we can end this one now.

If this fast metastasizing thread proves anything, it’s that Industrial Design occupies a space at the intersection of ego and insecurity.

Embrace engineering, understand it, love it, and you’ll be much better “designers” for it.

is that what you get from it? It kind of reads like engineering might be feeling that more than design.

Embrace design, understand it, love it, and you’ll be much better “engineers” for it. See what I did there?

I’ve had the pleasure of of working with some highly skilled and open minded engineers, and I’ve worked with enough of the other kind to know the difference it makes in the process and in the product. I know my engineers have had the same experience with designers. Personally I respect each of our rolls and I challenge them as much as they challenge me to drive to the best solutions.

Respect is one of those 2 way streets.

Ariana has some related thoughts that seem relevant.

it’s a good essay.

ya its called “art” mostly static at that.

Well I apologize rkuchinsky, but insulting you was never my objective…when you wrote “I Call BS” that set me off, I was not able to understand whether it means bastards or bullshits. I thought of a previous one.

Many comments in this topic were like we respect engineers but they were sidelined when it came to ‘Design’ and that is not true. So it seemed one sided as you can expect being designers over here. But what bobcat has written is very true.

Designer thinks of the concept and then he puts it on the sheet or do the sketching work, but after that engineering comes into play till the product is manufactured…After sketching comes modeling in CAD/CAM CAE software’s again developed or designed by engineers for engineers used in other way by designers, then rapid prototyping or CNC whichever again this machines and technology are designed by engineers for engineering purposes then comes manufacturing process, so mold design, tool design, etc…and manufactured by engineers, tested by engineers…quality checks and finally to the market.

So whatever I have written above every designer studies during his course but he must remember that engineering has evolved in every respect through design, technology and innovation, it is immaculate hard work by engineers over hundreds of years that today so many fields are using them and flourshing… so " DO engineers Design anything" is an very wrong question, we have been designing from years, decade centuries…

This is the definition of engineering by American Engineers’ Council for Professional Development applicable to every engineer and every engineering field; What aspect engineers don’t have, think yourself, design is just one thing.

The creative application of scientific principles to design or develop structures, machines, apparatus, or manufacturing processes, or works utilizing them singly or in combination; or to construct or operate the same with full cognizance of their design; or to forecast their behavior under specific operating conditions; all as respects an intended function, economics of operation and safety to life and property

… . … … . .

… . … . . … … . …

“Do engineers really “design” anything”? I’m astonished and dismayed at the narrow-minded level of discussion in this thread. It reminds me why “Industrial Design” occupies such little shelf space in even the best bookstores, and why as a discipline it still has a long way to go before it’s truly grasped by the Great Unwashed. (how many times have you had to explain what “Industrial Design” is to friends and strangers?)
Perhaps it might help to look at a continuum defined by beautiful, pure unadulterated engineering truths at one end, and designers and stylists at the other.

Examples at the engineering end:
The racing bicycle we all know and love. (minus the accessories)
Formula one cars. (Eg Ross Brawn, Adrian Newey etc)
Aircraft. (Burt Rutan, Kelly Johnson, etc)
Americas Cup & Ocean racing yachts?

Examples at the other end:
Clothes. (Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, etc)
Furniture design: (Go to the Salone in Milan)
Interior Design: You name them…
Industrial design. (Karim Rashid, Philippe Starck, Marc Newson etc.)

Where it gets interesting and rich is in the middle ground where Engineering and the Arts have embraced each other, and where culture and context play with technology and science. It’s a space occupied by great architecture where structure, material, and efficiency have to marry with aesthetics, local narratives, and address the hearts and minds of us all. (The bookshelves groan under weight of this work)

For some non-Architectural design references, how about Malcolm Sayer, the design engineer who had worked in the aviation industry who designed the E Type Jag? One of the most evocative and iconic cars of the last Century? (I’m sorry, no Industrial designers involved in this one boys)

As well as making movies and exploring the arts, Eames spent most of his life exploring manufacturing technologies, and cutting edge engineering, that gave us all that beautiful GRP, and pressure formed ply furniture that has delighted us for decades.

And, do you think the team at Apple throws a few alias renderings over the wall to Foxconn, mentions some fluff about Dieter Rams and tells their engineers to get to get on with it? No. They explore manufacturing technologies and processes, iterate over and over, to produce beautiful innovative work like multiple shot injection molded chassis, gorgeous unibody notebooks, and device interactions that make us drool.

Yes, engineers really do design stuff, as does the arts and crafts end of our global community.

Please, get over your parochial, blinkered view of what “Design” means, and get on with it.


Move beyond the OP’s title of the thread which provoked this great conversation and I think you will read that few are disagreeing with you Bobcat.

How about this -

Do designers “engineer” anything? :wink:


How about this -

Do designers “engineer” anything? > :wink:

D’ohhh! Now you’ve torn it… .