Sunday, October 10, 2010

Design and Engineering

So I was catching up on some of the older things I have recorded on the DVR (like, old from last spring).  I tend to record a lot of odd things, and a particular lot of odd things from Ovation, the arts channel.  I was watching a show about trying to re-design the coach-class airline seat, and one of the design team, when inspecting the current state-of-the-art popped out with this line:

"It doesn't seem to have been Designed at all, just Engineered"

I intuitively got what they were saying, and I think it's a great line, but I think it's probably not giving engineers quite enough credit.  Yes, designers come up with concepts an aesthetics, and functions, but engineers are the ones who make the moving parts actually move.  They take your concepts, apply physics, and come up with an actual object.   These are the folks that do the math that brings your sketch into the real world.  Most design professions have some sort of related/associated engineering-type profession to bridge the gap between idea and reality.  Architects have civil engineers, product and industrial designers have materials and mechanical engineers, game designers have software engineers and programmers, and fashion designers have pattern-drafters.

How does this apply to Jewelry?  Well, usually jewelers are designers to some extent, but it seems that when that's ALL someone is the term used is "Jewelry Designer" rather than"Jeweler".  I think that being a "Jeweler" means that you have enough engineering ability to take that fantastic sketch, whether yours or someone else's, and figure out how to make it work in real metal/glass/stones/etc.
The practical upshot is that in small shops the jeweler is both designer and engineer, because really, all the fantastic ideas in the world are not going to do anyone any good if you can't figure out how to implement them.  So appreciate your engineer, or that part of you that does the engineering, because making truly awesome stuff requires both of you.

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