We must not forget the role of engineers and manufacturers

Letters to the Editor should be sent to Design Week, 50 Poland Street, London W1V 4AX. Fax: 0171-970 4197. e-mail Design-week@centaur.co.uk

I am writing in reference to the news story on the crediting of designers in the Millennium Products initiative (DW 19 December 1997).

A criticism I might levy at our profession is that we sometimes receive a disproportionate amount of credit for what can be a rather small contribution to the overall business of creating, manufacturing and marketing new products. We frequently read about the contributions made by designers, but how often do we hear about the contributions of other members of the team such as engineers or manufacturers?

The purpose of Millennium Products is to demonstrate British leadership in creating world-beating products and services and to create an accurate record of the processes and people behind the successes. One use of this material will be in education where I very much hope that children will be inspired to follow careers in the whole spectrum of product creation activities.

Andrew Summers is quite right when he says that “most successful products are a team effort” and so if we are to achieve our aims we must give balanced credit to all of the key participants.

If we don’t, then rather than inspiring our audience we are more likely to create scepticism.

Cambridge Consultants’ parent company, Arthur D Little, recently carried out a global survey on innovation. Of nearly 700 companies which responded, 84 per cent said that innovation was a high priority for their future success, but only 25 per cent felt that they were effective enough at it. If innovation is so central to the health of UK industry, and so difficult to achieve, we should be very careful to ensure that credit goes not just to the manufacturer or even the designer, but to whatever innovative contributions or methods have created the competitive edge.

So let’s insist that the design profession receives credit where credit is genuinely due, but let’s also remember the unsung heroes in engineering, manufacturing and marketing without whose contributions we are unable to function.

Howard Biddle

Managing director

Cambridge Consultants

Cambridge CB4 4DW

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