The right creative spark

Industrial designers do speak in a slightly different language to us engineers. At a recent conference the delegates, all industrial designers, were encouraged to get emotional, understand the human problems and even 'love the unknown'. I am not being sniffy or dismissive - these industrial designers were producing some truly beautiful and innovative products - even if it is the design engineers who have to make their concepts a reality.

There were a couple of interesting points I took from the conference. One was that even industrial engineers, who stereotypically like to think of beautiful design as a gift that is solely theirs to give, were insistent that engineers were involved right at the concept stage.

While this traditionally may have been viewed as inhibiting to their design flow, they acknowledged that having someone at the outset with the knowledge to say yes or no and set a project along the right lines was invaluable. While this may seem a pretty obvious observation, it was repeated on a sufficient number of occasions to imply that what should be the norm is still not always so.

The second point concerns the technical ability of industrial designers. Amongst all the talk of innovation, creativity and general out of the box thinking, the technical skills of the designer were almost completely overlooked. Unquestionably in any CAD environment a degree of competence with the tools can be taken for granted, but it is not a technology that is standing still.

New tools are coming on stream and there are evolving manufacturing processes to consider, particularly the art of designing for 3D printing. On top of this is the aforementioned importance of a more efficient and inclusive design process, which inevitably will result in the cross-fertilisation of ideas and crossover of the platforms they are created on.

So in the midst of all this emotional thinking and loving the unknown, I wondered if mastering those technical aspects might in some cases be a more useful spark in unlocking designers creativity?

Tim Fryer, Editor

Tim Fryer

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