Relational Modes between Industrial Design and Engineering Design – a Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Design Work
Paper i proceeding, 2003

Focus on customer and market needs has initialized changes in product development work, which involve integration of industrial design and engineering design functions. Interdisciplinary teams are considered a prerequisite in order to achieve collaboration, and a necessity to meet market demands in new products. However, interdisciplinary teams are inherently associated with collaborative shortcomings. In this work, relations between industrial designers and engineering designers in product development work are studied. Project members have difficulties working together unambiguously due to the fact that each functional member has his or her focus and experience of design work. This results in an inefficient process, characterized by limited understanding and respect of each others competencies and viewpoints. Based on empirical findings and communication theory, this paper describes the different relational modes between industrial designers and engineering designers and the significance each such level constitute. This paper suggests a first step to improve collaboration by identifying characteristics of different modes of relations. The interactive modes represent one-way communication, reciprocal communication, interaction and collaboration. In order to achieve collaboration a number of prerequisites need to be fulfilled: firstly, information has to be externalized in a language that is understood by both sender and receiver. A further step, reciprocal communication is needed to ensure that the content of the message has been understood. Interaction implies a common understanding of how individuals’ activities relate to one another. Finally, collaboration has been achieved when integrated work result in a common understanding of the situation and the design work mutually entail both parties’ perspectives. This situation should be the aim of any fully interactive work environment.

integrated product development

industrial design




engineering design


Sara Persson

Chalmers, Produkt- och produktionsutveckling

Anders Warell

Chalmers, Produkt- och produktionsutveckling

Proceedings of the 6th Asian Design International Conference


Produktionsteknik, arbetsvetenskap och ergonomi

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