Engineering: The art of herding cats—and winning at it

by Slade Simpson

Our engineering team takes design concepts and makes them reality – it’s that simple, right? Not quite.    

Product development is actually really hard. Know what’s even harder? Successful product development that satisfies all stakeholders — end users, executive boards, investors, sales, marketing, manufacturers, management and business leaders… the list can go on forever.

I like solving problems as much as the next guy/gal, but dang, that’s a lot of cats to herd.

Any product that has a prayer for success in the marketplace must go through a multifaceted and often arduous process – every detail and requirement must be carefully managed. (Bring on those glorious spreadsheets!)

An enormous amount of energy and talent goes into developing even the simplest of products. Unfortunately (well, fortunately for those of us who actually love doing it) a perfect product doesn’t simply descend from the heavens when a need arises. It takes consumer research, industrial design, sourcing, user experience understanding, technical specification, development, various types of engineering, prototyping, and more to make it happen. There are countless choreographed steps (figuratively, of course – engineers can’t dance) that must be taken to ensure a successful design. Whether these steps are completed for a toaster, a surgical tool or a foosball table, they eventually must be manufactured and, in most cases, generate revenue.  

This is where engineering comes in. Our role is to ensure that every step of the process is molded (sometimes literally) into a mass-producible product that meets all cost, performance, lifecycle and marketing requirements. We’re constantly working to balance innovative industrial design concepts and highly-nuanced user experience requirements with engineering rigor and client desires. That may sound lame to some, but I have to say, we really dig it. 

At Design Central, we team with clients to achieve a customized and complete solution to their challenges. We have found that our cross-discipline and collaborative service is the best way to achieve a complete production solution. In other words, yes, we herd a lot of cats — but the end result shines because of it. And we find a way to make the process enjoyable (we’re a good time, despite the fact our majors prevented us from being that during college).    

Thanks to modern consumer electronics companies demanding perfection from their engineers and manufacturers, consumer expectations for perceived quality, performance and aesthetics are at an all-time high. This, along with a movement toward minimalism, is driving product companies to become more sensitive about their design process and outcomes. If they don’t push the envelope and pay attention to the details, someone else will, market share will be lost and everyone will be sad.

Our response? Sweet. Because we relish understanding where people want to go—and then helping them get there, or maybe even beyond (see: pushing the envelope).

With production engineering being the proverbial last stand between design intent and a final product, it’s critical to have a integrated approach to development. Designers can break into a cold sweat when they think of handing off a design to an engineer. We as a profession have a reputation of sacrificing everything for cost and function: “Ya know, it’d be a lot more efficient to make that beautiful form a brick.”

Design Central strives to be different. Our designers brilliantly innovate within the confines of reality, and our engineers creatively solve problems with design and end-use in mind. We collaborate early and often so the intent is clear and the path to production is well defined. We’re like Yin and Yang, Han and Chewie, peanut butter and jelly, Starsky and… you get the point. 

Our engineering team does indeed make design concepts reality. It takes a massive collaborative effort to do it right, and we’ve got you covered.