Design, Manufacture, Test as Told by McLaren

It costs absolutely the same amount of money to make a car look ugly as it does to make it look beautiful.

Regarding the McLaren design language:

…it’s not coming from just aesthetics. It’s very easy to design a sexy car; a dramatic looking car. That’s not what design, for me, is all about. It’s more about doing efficient design that has a reason for being.

(emphasis mine)

Frank Stephenson, automotive designer and Director of Styling at McLaren Automotive

While it can be interesting to hear the designer wax poetic about design philosophy it’s even more interesting seeing how the design comes to life:

Even better to see the product perform as designed:

Engineer vs. Designer Podcast

Josh Mings of Solidsmack and Adam O’Hern of have been getting together every week and choppin’ it up over some design and engineering topics, tips, tricks, interviews with special guests, recording it, and publishing the conversation as “Engineer vs. Designer.” Episode 7 airs today with a little insight into the philosophy behind Form Loves Function along with their usual industry news, tips, and tricks. Check it out at

Clean New Look

Update March 16, 2011 – less clicking while keeping it clean:
Site Screenshot


New logo, new layout, new features with more on the way. Not only is the new layout crisp on your desktop, it scales nicely for mobile devices. Give it a try on your Droid, iOS device, etc.

New content is in the queue so check back in a day or two or subscribe to the feed.

Enjoy the whitespace.

Comments are happening on the new Form Loves Function Discussion Forum.

James Dyson on Building Innovative Culture

Dyson Ball Image

When a designer as successful as James Dyson talks about engineering and manufacturing as one of the cornerstones of innovation I tend to listen:

… Mr. Dyson is an adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron on how to accelerate Britain’s development of new technology and build up its manufacturing and export prowess.

Prominent business leaders in America have recently pointed to the same issue — that modern manufacturing, and the scientific and engineering skills that make it possible, are a crucial pillar of a healthy economy. The two most notable and outspoken on this subject have been Andrew S. Grove, the former chairman of Intel, and Jeffrey R. Immelt, chief executive of General Electric.Relying on services alone and neglecting manufacturing, they say, is short-sighted and pushes good jobs abroad.

Dyson’s Ingenious Britain, linked in the article, is also an insightful read.

Read the full article at How to Make an Engineering Culture

As always, comments are welcome in the discussion forum.

ID Resource List at Product Design Hub

I just now noticed a great list posted by Waikit over at Product Design Hub. Hit the link for details on:

  • Textures
  • Free Stock Images
  • Persona Collage Creator
  • Color Inspiration & Tools
  • Portfolio Hosting
  • Image Hosting & Sharing
  • Salary/Hour Rate Indicators
  • Invoicing Tools
  • Patents Databases
  • Material Databases
  • Anthropometric Data
  • Survey Tools

There is a pretty good discussion going in their forum.

IDES is a good materials resource I didn’t see on the list which is a great complement to MatWeb.

Comments are welcome in the Form Loves Function Discussions Forum.

$20,000 For Your Best Idea

That’s what LG is willing to pay in their Design the Future Competition:

What we’re looking for
Predict what’s next. What do you think the next generation of mobile phones should work or look like for the U.S. market in the next 2 to 3 years? We are asking for your help. We’re NOT looking for a long list of specs or phone ideas that already exist. We’re looking for a cool new concept or “big idea” supported by usage scenario and user experience illustrations.

Who doesn’t have a cool new concept or “big idea” they’d love to share? Among the support documentation I found this: 4 Tips For Success which provides a pretty good starting point for any product development project:

  1. Find a Good Problem to Solve
  2. Do Your Homework
  3. Carefully Craft Your Pitch

But the real gem is about halfway down the page:

How to Innovate

  1. Select a product or service to innovate.
  2. Create a list of its components.
  3. Apply a TEMPLATE to each component. This creates a VIRTUAL PRODUCT. It is virtual because it does not exist. It should not seem to make any sense to you at first. That is okay…that is how the method works.
  4. Take the VIRTUAL PRODUCT and think of all the ways it could be useful. What problems does it solve? What benefits does it offer? Who would use it?
  5. Repeat the process using a different component.
  6. Repeat the entire process using a different TEMPLATE.

There you have it. If only it were that easy…

On a more serious note, Autodesk is a sponsor and I really like what they have been doing with their software lately to enable designers to design. On par with Siemens’ Synchronous Technology.

Comments are happening on the new Form Loves Function Discussion Forum.

Forum is Open

Interested in talking with other hard working, talented people about making beautiful, useful things? The Form Loves Function discussion forum is ready for action. At the moment it is feature-lean; more features will be added as the community builds.

If you are ok with answering a few screening questions and dealing with some minor bugs, please request an invite by hitting me on Twitter (@formloves) or via email at design at formlovesfunction dot com.

Nexus One Design Videos

These are a bit heavy on the marketing-speak and not as deep into the details as I like to get, but there are a few interesting bits making these videos worth posting; hardware and software designed in conjunction, optimization of the 3D engine, and insight into the magnitude of physical testing going into design validation.

Episode 1: Concept & Design

Episode 2: Display and 3D Framework

Episode 3: Testing

Episode 4: Manufacturing

Episode 5: Day One (all marketing here, but kinda cool to see all the pieces in action together)

I’d love to see how they make that sheetmetal housing. Hydroforming? Tricky welding?

Objectified DVD Pre-Order + New Screenings Announced

Objectified on DVDWe’re big fans of Gary Hustwit’s Objectified movie (check out the trailer) here at Form Loves Function and we’re happy to learn that the DVD is available for Pre-Order on the Objectified website. We’re also happy to see the filmmaker embrace new distribution formats like USB drives and BluRay.

New screening dates are up also.

Marissa Mayer on Innovation

Everyone’s favorite Vice President of Search Products & User Experience, Marissa Mayer, talks about how innovation happens at Google. Well, how it happened three years ago anyway. Her 9 keystones are still relevant today:

  1. Ideas come from everywhere
  2. Share everything you can
  3. Hire brilliant people
  4. License to pursue dreams – Google gives employees 20% of their time to work on individual pet projects (50% of the projects launched in the second half 2005 were “20% time” projects)

    It turns out when you take really smart people, give them really good tools they make really beautiful, amazing things that are really exciting and they do it with a lot of passion and momentum.

  5. Innovation, not instant perfection –

    the key is iteration.

  6. Data is apolitical – decisions get made based on data, not on rank of the decision makers within the company
  7. Creativity loves constraint
  8. Users, not money
  9. Don’t kill projects, morph them

The question and answer session after her lecture is also quite enlightening.

Hartmut Esslinger on Crappy Products

Entrepreneurial icon Guy Kawasaki asks design icon Harmut Esslinger ten questions. My favorite is, of course, the one question I would ask if I were doing the interview:

Question: Why is it that companies with billions of dollars who can hire any designer or design firm in the world put out such crappy products?

Answer: Excellent products require more then just a good designer or a good design agency—they require humanistic and cultural vision, courage and discipline in execution (emphasis, mine). There are two reasons why crappy products are so common: first, most “companies with billions of dollars” don’t want to charter new ways because they are in a defensive setting in order to defend their existing business—and when the billions and the business are gone, it’s too late for change. Second, big companies normally have neither the people nor the processes to innovate and there are no real rewards for taking the risks and efforts required in the endeavor for excellent products. In my career, SONY under Akio Morita was the only big company which rejected the common addiction to mediocrity and went for world-changing innovations. Now they are stuck as well….

There are a few other interesting nuggets in the article. Click here to read more.

Click to comment in the forum.

Cross-Disciplinary Education of Design and Engineering Students

One of the best ideas I’ve heard in a while:

Cross-Disciplinary Education of Design and Engineering Students.

…an industrial design professor and an engineering professor decided to switch students for one quarter each year, each teaching their contrasting discipline and perspective. The engineering students are exposed to creativity techniques, user empathy, and visual communication. Industrial design students are experimenting with injection molded polymers, carbon fiber composite lay-up, thermoforming and materials science. The two groups later are combined into design teams to work on an industry sponsored project together. …

Engineering Competition

When I finished reading this article, “BYD throws 5,000 low-cost engineers at auto battery packs,” I wasn’t too surprised to hear that a gigantic Chinese manufacturing company was working on new battery technology. After spending a total of about 6 months in Chinese factories over the past 3 years, I wasn’t surprised to hear that they are planning to sell said batteries to competing auto companies. I also wasn’t surprised to hear that their engineers get paid about 15% of what most entry to mid-level American engineers make. See, I’ve been pondering this situation for a long time. If you’re an American or European engineer you should worried about how you can compete with someone of the same skill level making almost a tenth of what you make. What is so special about your skill set that makes you worth ten times the money? There are CEO’s all over the country that aren’t convinced. The design and manufacturing climate is changing. How are high-paid design and research engineers going to justify their value? I have some ideas and I’m curious to hear yours.