Different aspects of creativity must work together

With all the debate surrounding the inability of designers from engineering and non-engineering disciplines to “tessellate” in their mission to achieve the ultimate product, I wonder that it hasn’t been clearly defined in the first instance.

That magic word, “creativity”, can fall into two distinct categories. The notion that patents are evidence of originality in design (Letters, DW 28 May) only serves to highlight these differences in design-thinking.

Creativity, when seen by an engineer, concerns the originality of a solution to a problem. Other designers believe creativity has an artistic slant, where the function of a product is expressed by styling and shape.

When we imply collaboration between these two modes of thinking is the key to successful design, we understand that for any product to succeed in today’s world a good technical as well as a good artistic grounding is needed, meaning it wasn’t designed with an appropriate “world context” in mind.

And because the education systems for engineering and product design are so rarely connected at this early stage in a career, it comes as no surprise that the ideals of designers from separate upbringings are incompatible.

Nothing seems to be more oblivious to this than my own university degree course, which prides itself on having a foot in many design disciplines, hence allowing students “to think in an integrated way across the demands of engineering design”.

But in reality the course attempts to push learning into the unpopular realm of materials science. Designing objects in today’s world requires knowledge of both aspects of creativity, so that a single idea can be realistically evaluated and developed in a single mind. And this knowledge must be gained as early as possible.

Paul Simms

University of Nottingham


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