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:

There are 433 Parts in your Telephone

We’re not talking about that Android phone, Windows phone, or iPhone in your pocket. This 1947 video from Bell Telephone Systems shows all the pieces of a 300 Series phone, designed by Henry Dreyfuss, coming together. If “Tommy Telephone” annoys you the way he annoyed me, skip ahead to about the 3:15 mark when the phone parts make their appearance.

It’s interesting to see not only the parts, their geometry and how they fit together, but also the materials used. Not surprising to see copper, nickel, and gold on the list. The lead surprised me for the moment before I realized the product was designed in the 1930’s. Wax, leather, linen, cotton? Yes.

Seeing all the pieces of such an iconic, ubiquitous product come together reinforces the great respect I have for early industrial designers.

Engineer vs. Designer Podcast

Josh Mings of Solidsmack and Adam O’Hern of CadJunkie.com 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 http://evd1.tv/

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.

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.