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Introducing engineering
Introducing engineering

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2.6 The context of design and innovation

In this section I will introduce some of the issues and debates that have engaged designers and informed their practice. The ways that new designs are created and manufactured is constantly changing and adapting to particular circumstances. No two cases will be the same, indeed it is the newness and inventiveness of design that often gives a product a distinctive competitive edge with potential customers and markets.

We have seen that design is a complex activity. It has many stages and at each stage must take into account both opportunities and constraints. Designers try to speculate as much as possible within the constraints of time and cost as well as the requirements of customers and clients. The activity or process of design treads a fine line between freedom and constraint. Getting the balance right seems to yield useful and satisfactory designs.

There does not seem to be any recipe for achieving this balance. Design is complex with many factors to take into account. There are models of design process that can act as useful guides to stages and outputs in this process, but they will not tell you how to design a particular thing.