The 20 Sep issue of The New Yorker has an interesting profile of inventor, designer, engineer and pitchman James Dyson, who is famous for creating the “dual cyclone”-powered Dyson vacuums — an ingenious bagless vacuum cleaner — and now the Dyson Air Multiplier — an ingenious blade-less fan. Beyond creating enormous businesses by obsolescing the conventionally indispensable components of household appliances, Sir James [corrected], as he is known in the United Kingdom, is trying to foment a new, 21st Century industrial revolution. His goal is to turn the tide on the increasingly tepid interest in engineering that plagues the U.K. In this regard, the United States fares little better, and Dyson contends that the two countries are more interested in selling things than making things — unfortunately it’s making things that’s the key to a successful society, he says.
The good folks at Condé Nast require you to buy a subscription in order to read this article at NewYorker.com, unfortunately, but it’s worth reading if you can get your hands on a copy. Of particular interest to me was this quote from Dyson about how he’s staffed his company:
“All of our engineers are designers and our designers are engineers. When you separate the two, you get the designers doing things for marketing purposes rather than functional reasons.”
That’s a great quote, and it puts a little bit of a sting to designers, like me, who could hardly qualify ourselves as engineers. I can console myself by saying that, if push came to shove, I could probably build a decent Web site on my very own, but I’m only an engineer in the broadest, most generous definition of the term. Neveretheless, it’s obvious to me that going forward, for all design professions, it’s only going to become more and more important to be able to build as well as to design.
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