In design, engineering DOES matter

I have for years gone to great lengths to convince my students (with varying degrees of success) that engineering alone will not make a succ...

I have for years gone to great lengths to convince my students (with varying degrees of success) that engineering alone will not make a successful design. This is because design doesn't actually happen in the real world.
Design is a "discipline," not a real-world human activity. In the real world, it's called product development and while it includes design, it also includes ergonomics, business, engineering, and all kinds of other disciplines depending on the context of the intervention being developed. There may even be some products where engineering plays virtually no role (I seriously doubt it, but I'm willing to entertain the notion) - but that will be decided on a case by case basis.
So perhaps this explains why I become particularly upset when a bunch of poser artistes in their black turtlenecks ignore engineering for the sake of their posh, offensively decadent designs (yes, Philippe Starck, I'm looking at you as a classic example).
I have personally diagnosed dozens of sickeningly amateurish products that failed miserably because their designers failed to recognize the significance and impact of engineering knowledge to the success of their designs.
Quick example: I was once shown a consumer product that kept tearing and causing damage to the object that the product was supposed to carry(1). It took me less than a minute to diagnose exactly how and why the product was failing as a result of shear loads at very sharp corners. I made several suggestions to fix the problem. They were all rejected because they would ruin the product's aesthetics. The product eventually and inevitably failed on the market, which is too bad because I thought the concept really had merit. But the yutz designer just refused to accept the relevance of engineering. Now no one will benefit from the advantages of that designer's idea.
Think about it: no one will benefit from a good idea because the designer decided that engineering must not interfere with aesthetics.
This is not an isolated incident. It happens a lot. Think of all the wasted effort, time, and money that goes into these projects.
One reason why there are so many designers out there that refuse to accept the relevance of engineering is that engineering is also often systemically excluded as a pertinent body of knowledge. This happens most often in so-called "design awards."
And one particularly nasty example of this is the Workshopped 2016 "People's Choice" Awards. On that page, they invite people (who I suppose have seen a particular exhibition of product designs, but how that happens is not exactly clear) to vote for their favorite designer.
To further categorize responses (though it's not at all clear why such categorization is necessary, especially since - on the web - no one can tell if you're lying), they ask for what I suppose passes for demographic information. In particular, they have a pulldown menu of "categories" of voters: Architect; Builder / Developer; Public; Product Designer; Interior Designer; Media; Manufacturer; Student; and other.
Engineering is not included.
Now, I'm old and cranky and really don't give a fuck what other people think of me, so I wrote them a rather pointed message, which I include below, along with their response.

Given the multiple flaws in their approach to running their awards program, I'm not surprised by the puerile nature of their response. And Workshopped is by no means the only group to fall victim to this kind of narrow-minded thinking - they're just the boneheads of the week.
I'm sick and tired of effort being wasted on useless products that haven't been properly developed, especially while there are so many millions of people on this planet suffering unnecessarily. I'm sick and tired of engineers being excluded from design discussions just because they have technical backgrounds. I'm sick and tired of having to listen to post-modern tripe about "dignity" of a chair that is impossible to sit in comfortably, or the "cohesion" of a lemon juicer that can't juice a lemon.
And I'm sick and tired of people like me struggling to actually make the world a better place while a bunch of self-absorbed wankers pat each other on the back for their sleek, expensive, and ultimately shitty designs.
Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all.
And to the people at Workshopped who told me to get a life, I say this: I have a life, assholes, dedicated to leaving the world better than how I found it - not that you'd understand that; so you can all just line up and kiss my shiny engineering ass.

1. I'm not getting into specifics because (a) the details of the product are irrelevant to my point and (b) quite frankly I'm concerned I might be sued by the puerile prat who developed that product.



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The Trouble with Normal...: In design, engineering DOES matter
In design, engineering DOES matter
The Trouble with Normal...
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