how art-focused is ID? vs engineering

As I look around portfolios and websites, it seems like the “main” goal when designing are aesthetics, and then function, and that the ID world and profession is much more art-based than engineering-based.

Is this true? For example, I have some ideas about products, but most of them are innovating the actual product’s mechanics, not the overall aesthetic design of it.

Another example of what I’m trying to say: I really have no interest in building models of a product. I want to know how to build a working prototype, _and_design how it looks and works.

Basically, for me, function > looks. Is this contrary to the ID profession, which (seemingly to me) takes an idea and makes it into a good-looking product.

So I’m wondering if
a) the ID industry is not for me. I want to design products and their function from the ground up, not just the aesthetic values. Maybe I’d be better running my own company, not as a corporate designer?

b) perhaps a degree in ID is for me? Will I learn things here that I won’t be able to figure out myself? Are there any schools which fit my bill?

c) Engineering? Which isn’t really an option because I’m not too sharp at math.



Thoughts?

We can do both. The role of the designer is limited either by your position within a larger company or by your skillsets as an engineer.

There are many designers who wear both the hat of mechnical engineer (designing internal features and the mechanics of a product) as well as the exterior aesthetics.

If you DON’T want anything to do with the aesthetics you’d probably focus on the engineering side.

Different schools also have different core values when it comes to ID. For example Georgia Tech has an ID department based out of a very engineering saavy school. You’re more likely to find students there that share the ambitions of engineers then an art school like Pratt.

Will a design degree teach you how to understand and compute loads and forces like an engineer? No. But its important to understand the vast majority of product development (unless you’re designing water bottles) is a multidisciplinary process that involves a lot of people.

For example I’m currently working on designing modular keypads for a handheld computer. I need to work with researchers to determine the best arrangement of the keys. I need to work with mechanical engineers to determine wall thicknesses and screw boss locations. I need to work with electrical engineers and software developers to ensure the keypads have the proper LED’s built in…you get my drift.

I’d suggest if you’re still in high school to arrange a trip to visit an ID school that is more tech saavy. See what students are working on. Keep in mind that what you’re interested in now may not be what you’re interested in 5 years from now. I changed my goals from auto design, to computer graphics, and then finally back to product design. ID is one of the only fields that LETS you have that flexibility.

I also applied to most of my colleges for mechanical engineering before I realized I wanted to be the one determining how a product looks, feels and works: rather then the one figuring out how thick the plastic needs to be in order to prevent it from cracking when you drop it.

IDSA put a nice brochure together to answer this question for high school students:

http://www.idsa.org/webmodules/articles/articlefiles/what_is_id_brochure.pdf

But I’m a little confused… Why do you want to do engineering if you don’t think you’ve got what it takes to be an engineer? If I asked you to design a watch, would you want to work on the interior or exterior?

I thought I didn’t have what it takes to be an engineer either. So I switched majors to design. After 6 years out in the real world, turns out I do have what it takes to be an engineer if I so please. Math, physics, chemistry, you can learn.

Problem solving, critical thinking skills at this point you either have or you don’t. If you’re artistic or just have a critical eye for design, and it interests you… do it. If you are more interested in deciding how to build something or how to make it work, be an engineer.

If you like a little more design than engineering, go to design school and take engineering related classes. If you like the bits and pieces but still enjoy the outcome, go to engineering school and take some design courses. A design savvy engineer would have an easy time finding work, as would an engineering savvy designer.

Overall I would look at it like this:

Engineering: concerned with What and HOW
Marketing: concerned with the: Who and Where
Design: Concerned with WHO WHAT WHERE WHEN, HOW and most importantly, WHY

It’s about the big picture, and sometimes you might be working out a mechanism for a cam lock, and sometimes you might be researching why Europeans between certain ages with x amount of disposable income why certain products over others.

Never underestimate the function of aesthetics. After all, every watch tells time, yet their is an infinite amount of variations on them. From that you can deduce that there is a greater function that watches serve other than telling time, and it has nothing to do with mechanisms, and everything to do with form, materials, and brand, and what those things say about the wearer.

Learn one of the top CAD programs like the back of your hand. Pro/E is my favorite but Solidworks or Catia will work too. The job market is so flexible if you know how to work the top software that chances are you will find your niche eventually. I get emails from recruiters that are desperate to find people who know those programs.

Do you find those jobs are looking for full fledged designers? Or rather CAD jockeys to execute on someone elses designs?

I know the CAD jock role can be dangerous if your company sees you as having more value for the tools that you know rather then the creative skill sets you bring to the table.

Yeah, thats an easy trap to fall into, especially because one you do it for a few months you start getting a lot of money (for someone with a bfa one year out of school) offered to you. After your student loans come due, it becomes harder and harder to turn it down too.

I do disagree with the idea that a company, especially a design firm, would dismiss real creative talent just to keep someone doing CAD.

Whats that line from the Family Guy when the baby starts his own company, “whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, your right.” If you don’t think you can be an engineer than you already know the outcome.

So basically, you want to patent your ideas as well?

In the US yes the majority of design schools are Art based. But you might like to consider Europe or even Australia where the focus is more of a multi-disciplinary nature. That focus perhaps might be better for you as it looks to me you are looking more at the product development process than the product design part.

i do both. usually engineering tweaks my specs a little, but typically nothing major. mold design, structural integrity, manufacturing, pricing on a limited role.

as a designer, the more you can accomplish successfully, the stronger you are and your value to your employer increases.

i also learned marketing strategy and planning too, among a few other things.

[quote=“keifer”]As I look around portfolios and websites, it seems like the “main” goal when designing are aesthetics, and then function, and that the ID world and profession is much more art-based than engineering-based.

Is this true? For example, I have some ideas about products, but most of them are innovating the actual product’s mechanics, not the overall aesthetic design of it.

Another example of what I’m trying to say: I really have no interest in building models of a product. I want to know how to build a working prototype, anddesign how it looks and works.

Basically, for me, function > looks. Is this contrary to the ID profession, which (seemingly to me) takes an idea and makes it into a good-looking product.

So I’m wondering if
a) the ID industry is not for me. I want to design products and their function from the ground up, not just the aesthetic values. Maybe I’d be better running my own company, not as a corporate designer?

b) perhaps a degree in ID is for me? Will I learn things here that I won’t be able to figure out myself? Are there any schools which fit my bill?

c) Engineering? Which isn’t really an option because I’m not too sharp at math.



Thoughts?[/quote]

if you want to do the things you enjoy, hard work is the only solutions. I would say do engineering and join a good R&D dept lets say in a GE or Bayer Siemens etc. thats where the real technological innovation occurs

There are some blow your mind, other worldly engineering projects going on out there. The problem is that at a place like GE or Bayer Siemens, to be the “idea” guys working on the cutting edge, a plain bachelor’s degree will not suffice. There are some exceptions to the rule, but most of the people doing the cool stuff have at least a masters degree, if not a Ph.D or Sc.D in engineering. I would love to do that stuff. I just didn’t have four more years to sit in school. I decided to do ID in addition to ME in school so I could be the “inventor” I always wanted to be. It’s been a rough road, and its still not over. In the end, I think it will be worth it.
Whatever you do, DO NOT shy away from either one because of perceived difficulty or the amount of work. It would be the biggest mistake you could make when choosing your path. I know a bunch of my classmates who dropped engineering in the first couple of years now are pissed at themsevles for leaving. They liked the idea of being an engineer but didn’t want to do the work. Now they regret it. The economy is crap and the good jobs are becoming harder and harder to find. Not to say that this will be the situation when you graduate. An engineering degree is universally respected and is a known quantity to employers. Unfortunately, a lot of the hiring managers I’ve come across from the bigger companies do not have a clue what ID is. At the end of the day, do what YOU want to do. You’ll be infinitely more successful if you do what you love to do, whether it be design or engineering or something else entirely.

First the math is really not so terrible you just have to apply your self. Spending four hours per day on Algebra is work. Calculus is simple stuff it’s the algebra thats hard. And the math is so simple you can do it on your fingers. The math in Calculus is not much more than 4-5=-1 And like anything if you practice you get good at it.

In ID you practice your drawing skills.

To add on top of this topic… engineers get a bad wrap because they don’t understand (or no one ever explained to them) a creative process. Most engineers were the most creative kids in the 2nd grade.

And to boot, I found through observation that industrial designers often don’t like the engineers attitude. Engineers often say " you can’t do that’ with out explaining or understanding a budget. Seemingly Mr know-it-all people are frustrating to work with.