What Does Design Bring to a Company?

Plastics News Reviews IDSA @ NPE2015

Apr 10 2015 - 3:35pm

"The role of the industrial designer in manufacturing is a familiar one to many, but the relationship between designer and engineer is often fraught with misunderstandings that can throw a project off course."  —Hamish Champ, Plastics News

The latest edition of Plastics News takes a closer look at an IDSA pre-conference session during NPE2015 in Orlando.

The question: How to bridge the communication gap that can affect and sometimes even limit the capability to bring a product to market?

The insight: David Kusuma, FIDSA, vice president of worldwide product development for IDSA Patron Tupperware Brands, says the division of responsibilities could vary from company to company. “When I was a designer, I was told I couldn’t get into material specification, and then when I switched and became an engineer I was told I couldn’t work on the creative side. We’ve developed category teams at Tupperware in order to oversee every aspect of a product’s path, from marketing to design development and so on. You put people in a position where they have to talk to each other. It’s made communications a lot better.”

Understanding a company’s business objectives is vital, finds Chris Bray, director of design at IQ Design Labs at PolyOne Corp, which sponsored the pre-conference session. “What does design bring to a company? How does it add value to what a company is trying to do? We’ve an in-house design team, and we spend a lot of time selling each other messages internally to arrive at where we want to be. Companies, especially publicly-listed ones, have a lot of obligations and the key thing is to not ask for too much nor ask for it to be delivered too quickly.”

Marco Perry, IDSA, founder and principal of New York-based Pensa LLC, says it's important for a designer to understand and appreciate the goals of a company. “Once you’ve got that on board everything else comes together.”

While contrary positions between engineers and designers were often assumed, not all friction is bad, however. Kevin Shinn, IDSA, vice president of design at Altair ThinkLabs, believes it can be a positive force between the two parties. “You pick a multi-disciplined team,” one that can work together and bounce things off each other.

Augusto Picozza, IDSA, director of industrial design at Jarden Consumer Solutions, finds a good designer can wear multiple hats, understanding engineering, manufacturing and the end market.

“The designers should be the closest thing to a given product’s end user,” he says. “You need to bring empathy for that person and their needs. It’s good to be versed in the technical stuff as well as design. You need to be rounded and aware of a number of disciplines.”

Design is about changing the world in a positive way, argues Mark Dziersk, FIDSA, managing director of IDSA Patron Lunar.

“Pursue excellence and people will seek you out. Tap into the creativity that is available. Designers are the best advocates for making the world a better place; the environment, self-esteem, altruism and so on. These are all things that are fundamental right now and if you’ve not got these on your side then you’ve got nothing. And designers bring that outlook, that approach.”