Designers must be both engineers and stylists

James Dyson’s recent Dimbleby Lecture presented the case for engineering as the saviour of 21st century Britain, urging us to get over our obsession with superficial styling and concentrate on making things.

James Dyson’s recent Dimbleby Lecture presented the case for engineering as the saviour of 21st century Britain, urging us to get over our obsession with superficial styling and concentrate on making things.

But as Peter Isherwood noted in his letter (DW 16 December 2004), Dyson continues to polarise engineering and styling, simplifying the role of the designer into media-friendly stereotypes.

In my experience, a successful product tends to be the result of being able to manage a set of tangible constraints: manufacturing processes, technology, materials science, ergonomics and so on.

These are combined with a set of intangible elements, which address the emotional side of the product, such as styling, relevance to brand, colour, material and finishes.

To do this effectively, a designer can be neither engineer nor stylist. They need to be a skilled and sensitive combination.

Mark Delaney

Independent designer

London SW20

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