Working with engineers...

Hey, kind of a Friday topic…but any other designers out there who get called “product cartoonists” by the engineering department? I say that if it wasn’t for IDers, the world would still be driving around in boxes and wearing plaid shirts…or is that the up and coming style???

Sorry to say but I have been noticing the box like shape coming back into many electronic products ):

honda element, hummer1, hummer2 are good examples too…

Jeez, back to the drawing board…at least the engineers will like me then…

Simpler things (box like shapes) are actually harder to design successfully. Anyone can use a straigh edge to draw lines, but details, proportion, part break, material use, (etc) all matters more when the over all shape of the product get simpler.

Simpler shapes are more challenging to manufacture as well. Mistakes and poor fit and finish can destroy a nice simple design. For this reason, I respect Apple engineers as much as their industrial designers because they are able to maintain high degree of quality through manufacturing.

My 2 cents.

some fo the “swoopy” stuff out there is done, I believe, just because CAD has enabled it’s creation … not necessarily because the nature of the product called for it.

Kind of a dejavu of the late industrial revolution … we know how to cast iron now, so let’s make it pretty and cover it all up with fleur-de-lis.

But then I’m an old Papanek student, so I may view things a bit differently.

i was asked recently in an internal meeting (thankGOd) with an engineer out to get me whether i realised that design was more than just colouring in and pretty 2 dimensional pictures, and whether i realised that we actually had to build this object. i am sick of know-it-all, condescending engineers with insecurity complexes!

I’ve run into this situation many times…a quick fix (if you have this contact) is to talk to a tooler or a supervisor over the injection molding machines at a local manufacturer to arrive at solutions. They will be happy to advise you in hopes that they get the business. Believe me, they will make your CAD mechanical engineer humble again and they might learn a thing or two.

Also, learn about plastics and its properties. For example, that whole thing about a product needing “even wall thickness” is false. Most inexperienced engineers don’t know how to accurately spec. out plastics for complex parts. You can contact a plastics manufacturing representitive for more info. Finally, take some time to learn about mold steels and how a mold is constructed with the variables.

Sounds like a lot, but it isn’t…your engineering co-workers will be impressed that you considered this in your designs and will be more apt to work with you.

I find it somewhat humerous that most of these posts have a sort of “how dare you criticize my beautiful design” when engineers are skeptical of the maunfacturability of their creations. Product design IS about making it a real live product (given).

All of you who design products without being familiar with manufacturing processes are limiting yourselves and placing your work and reputation into jeporady. You must understand the process, so you can create effectively.

While my training was in industrial design (B.S. Product Design), I do most of the engineering of the product as well. Recently, our company hired an outside design resource on a project. This designer has 30 years experience, yet has no concept of how to produce a part. As a result, I’m trying to get die castings from a vendor half a world away that keeps hanging in the mold because of sharp corners, little draft, thin walls, etc.

I was more or less told by mangaement that the design MUST be exactly as conceived. I fought that for months during the design phase, finally documenting all of the issues and concerns months ago.

The chickens have now come home to roost in that no matter how much finger pointing goes on, the design has problems. Marketing has made the big launch, the world wants it, and we won’t be able to effectively deliver.

I’ve been designing for over 25 years, have over a dozen highly successful product lines on the market, so I know how to make things work. Management is having a tough time backing their decision to go along blindly with a design resource who didn’t understand manufacturing processes.

Who deserves the criticism now?

f**k design resource. their engineering, management and cio too. they’re a bunch of fags.

Finally! I’ve been waiting for a burst of turets like that from UFO for a long time. Good to see this is the real UFO after all! :smiling_imp:

I’ve always thought it would be worth mentioning to them that absloutely no part of what they do actually makes anyone want to buy a product. All they do is save money, not make it.


pardon my ignorance, but who is “design resource”? googled, but not sure who you meant.

it’s their problem. if they had the slightest sense of courtesy they would’ve at least listed themselves in the yellow pages. the fact that they’re not listed makes them even more suspicious. i think i’m gonna call ashcroft and tell him the whole story.

Sorry for the misunderstanding regarding the “design resource”. The resource was a group formed within the corporate structure to provide “aesthetic design services” to each business unit (about ten units in 4-5 countries). Three individuals make up the group. The industrial designer is not from the industry, which is both technical and forced to comply with regulatory agencies.

My business unit President bought into the program, making the resource group’s aesthetic solutions mandatory without regard to the engineering or functional requirements. (He was from a Marketing background and wanted to be seen as a “team player” in the corporation. Note: our business unit is a niche player with the most technically advanced lines offered within the corporation. Even the corporate group doesn’t fully understand the products we manufacture).

As a result, we have a line that does not meet code requirements, and does not function properly in certain models which will delay full product offerings for up to six months while engineering modifies the product to conform to codes.

Bringing up the fact that the shortcomings were known before the tooling phase and showing that documentation only irritates management. There is no acknowledgement that the issue rested in blindly following the industrial design without regard for the engineering issues.

The whole point is that design is a problem solving, team function. Every disciplines’ concerns are valid and should be considered. The refusal to address the engineering concerns for fear of changing the "beauty " of the design demonstrates a lack of understanding of the process.

Regardless of the blame, the fact remains that the company has spent millions of dollars on a product that has real, costly issues.

My company will get the problems worked out. It just takes time and money. On the next project, hopefully, we will have learned form our mistakes.

looking at the trend of increasing responsibilities for a industrial designer this arguement will not be an issue in another 5-10 years…the market will demand for mechanical designers…part kick-ass designer, part analytical engineer.

…the concentrated engineers and designers will only be CAD jockeys.

but seriously,

why would someone want to create a design resource. the whole idea is bit of a joke.

[quote=“Big Red”]looking at the trend of increasing responsibilities for a industrial designer this arguement will not be an issue in another 5-10 years…the market will demand for mechanical designers…part kick-ass designer, part analytical engineer.

…the concentrated engineers and designers will only be CAD jockeys.[/quote]

Big Red’s hit a very relevant issue here too few are willing to admit. Already there are a number of Engineering schools in Europe offering combined Mechanical Engineering/Industrial Design degrees and graduating some real horsepower in terms of industry relevance and overall punch compared with either “pure” engineers or typical IDers.

The demand from the worlds of mfg, marketing and management is gradually but forcefully shaping up in this direction though there always were Design Engineers in many industries. The days of the chief decorator industrial designer will soon come to an end as the quest for maximum efficiency marches on and ID - as all these sadly out-of-touch design schools still teach it - will eventually be relegated to the books.

Note over the years the increasing difficulty new design graduates are having grabbing a foothold in the business while seniors jump employers almost at will. It’s expected an inexperienced designer will take some months landing a first job but you now come across designers from top schools still unemployed 2-3 years after graduation (!).

Those of us who’ve been around for a while know it’s really the begining of maturity for ID. In the meantime, someone please awaken the dinosaurs teaching design today no differently than 25 years ago. And remind them industry does not need more artists seeking self-expression through mass-produced consumer goods, but more selfless and pragmatic thinkers with refined intuition, analytical skills and a good dose of empathy for the common folk.

I agree with Egg and big red this is happening. i disagree with egg that this should radically change pedagodgy of design education. THe problem is not that schools are unaware of this, its that practical use of new applications degrades the methods and values of design practice. Schools are having to make difficult choices between teaching technical skills and teaching design.

Related to the teaching of design is the effects applications have on shaping professional work. Listen to criticism of graphics to discover that many, if not every, design “looks” like it was designed with the same set of software apps (photoshop, illustrator, etc). This is also a topic in computing aestetics, but should be discussed in every design field.

If schools move away from the core values to teach technical issues, all the students that come out of school will have the same ideas of what design should look like. That’s just adding to a group of “production designers” who won’t know the difference and can’t see the problem to ask the questions.

When the design, prototype and production are all tasks completed in the same applications, decisions are mediated by the application. Things that are easy to create, shortcuts for changing effects on photos in the application, low rez files that are easier to preview, friendly file formats, all these technical issues influence the design and aestetics of the finished product.

If there is a problem finding a job, the problem is that students went to schools who have this idea of teaching design around the computer. Students get out of school with the same ideas and no one can tell them appart.

Learning about interactive design as a self taught programmer also lead me into some of the same pitfalls. I learend the technical aspects of producing web sites long before I learned interactive principals. I have a design degree, but this did not stop me from selling web designs that did not answer basic interactive theory. My favorite violation is (was) to have links that don’t have labels. For a visual interface designer this is a forgivable mistake, for an interactive designer this is fundamental law. Minor distinctions that make a difference. I’ve paid this price with missed opportunities, not because I don’t understand how to design for web, but because a bad decision can cost lots of money.

To make it simple…there are too many design schools out there.

When looking at resume’s from young industrial designers, I’ll lump them into two categories:
those with BSID degree
those with BFA’s in industrial design

over and over, those student who earn a Bachelor of Science have a better understanding of the entire product development process.

this is a generalization, but it represents a safe bet when hiring a young designer. A BSID is more difficult to get than a BFA in industrial design due to the general education requirements.

In conclusion, there are ways to find young designers who are knowledgable in engineering and manufacturing.

u missed the point of my comment-the original post says that engineers think of designers as cartoonists and some designers resent this disrespect. I agree with u and egg’s comments that engineers and designers are moving towards combined degrees. I’m not disputing your observation. I think the conclusion that its the fault of schools is incorrect.

I noted this is not just happening in industrial design but in graphics and interactive design-design and production job duties are merging. This is making some design activities, to the outside person, indistinguishable. The result becomes misunderstanding of design, of quality and lack of consideration for other people’s job’s. Some designers may even feel that they “could do the engineering” as they experience using many of the same applications, workign on the same files with engineers who have higher paychecks and more respect.

That was the issue raised in the post. Lack of respect for designers. I believe the software is making dummies out of all of us.