20 Great Thoughts on Design Engineering

  • “In most people's vocabularies, design means veneer. It's interior decorating. It's the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design.”
    – Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc.
    (Quote from br
  • “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
    - Antoine-de-Saint-Exupéry, French writer and pioneering aviator
    (Quote from brainyquotes.com/Photo: Wikipedia)
  • “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.”
    – Alec Issigonis, British car designer, co-designer of the Mini
    (Quote from brainyquotes.com/Photo: Wikipedia)
  • “Any product that needs a manual is broken.”
    – Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors
    (Quote from brainyquotes.com/Photo: Wikipedia)
  • “Number three pencils and quadrille pads.”
    - Seymour Cray, Cray Research founder, when asked what CAD tools he used to design the Cray 1 supercomputer
    (Quote from azquotes.com/Photo: Cray Research)
  • “Designs are increasingly winning competitions because they are literally green, and because somewhere they feature a small windmill.”
    – Rem Koolhaas, architect, Professor in Practice and Urban Design at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard Univ
  • “A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”
    – Douglas Adams, English writer and humorist
    (Quote from brainyquotes.com/Photo: Wikipedia)
  • “Design must be functional, and functionality must be translated into visual aesthetics without any reliance on gimmicks that have to be explained.”
    - Ferdinand Porsche, automotive engineer, founder of Porsche AG
    (Quote from brainyquotes.com/Ph
  • “If you have 50 different plug types, appliances wouldn't be available and would be very expensive. But once an electric outlet becomes standardized, many companies can design appliances, and competition ensues, creating variety and better prices for cons
  • "There are two ways of constructing a software design; one way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies
  • “Eight years of work can be copied in six months. It wasn't inevitable that it was going to work. A stolen design is stolen time.”
    - Jonathan Ive, chief design officer of Apple Inc.
    (Quote from brainyquotes.com/Photo: Wikipedia)
  • “A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering.”
    - Freeman Dyson, theoretical physicist and mathematician
  • “In the end, I hope there's a little note somewhere that says I designed a good computer.”
    - Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Inc.
    (Quote from brainyquotes.com/Photo: Wikipedia)
  • “Accessible design is good design.”
    - Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft Corp.
    (Quote from brainyquotes.com/Photo: Wikipedia)
  • “Good design is good business.”
    - Thomas J. Watson, chairman and CEO of IBM from 1914-1956
    (Quote from brainyquotes.com/Photo: Wikipedia)
  • “All conventional wisdom has an element of truth to it, but good design requires more than an element of truth -- it requires an ensemble of correct assumptions and valid calculations.”
    – Henry Petroski, author, professor of civil engineering and hist
  • “The computer can't tell you the emotional story. It can give you the exact mathematical design, but what's missing is the eyebrows.”
    – Frank Zappa, musician, composer, filmmaker
    (Quote from brainyquotes.com/Photo: Wikipedia)
  • “A good designer must rely on experience; on precise, logic thinking; and on pedantic exactness. No magic will do.”
    - Niklaus Wirth, Swiss computer scientist, designer of Pascal programming language
    (Quote from brainyquotes.com/Photo: Wikipedia
  • “A lot of people in our industry haven't had very diverse experiences. So they don't have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one's understanding of the human experienc
  • "Make everything as simple as possible

No engineering task is more important than design, so for Engineers Week we've collected some of the most insightful and unusual thoughts on engineering's most significant role.

To be sure, not all of these insights come from design experts. Here, we've tapped architects, engineers, programmers, professors, CEOs, humorists, theoretical physicists, and even a rock star. From Jobs and Musk to Gates and Zappa, we present some of the best.

Click on Steve Jobs to start the slideshow.

Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 31 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and autos.


Image Map

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.