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Unlocking the Promise of Creative & Engineering Team Harmony

Design and Engineering Teams Working Together

“That’s hanging in midair; how does it attach?”

“Why is that corner square when I drew it round?”

“Your design will never hold the required weight!”

"Your specs don’t look anything like my design!”


We’ve all been there. Any organization with separate Creative and Engineering teams knows the potential for friction between the two groups. In the worst cases, the tension reinforces the most exaggerated stereotypes the two departments have of each other: Creatives as head-in-the-clouds idealists with no appreciation for how a display actually gets made, and engineers as joyless number-crunchers who actively look for every opportunity to drain all the “flair” from a design.


Fortunately, the reality in most organizations is not that extreme. But in the spirit of continuous improvement, there are always opportunities to foster even more harmony between the two teams:


  • Involve Engineering early in the design process. Surprises can sometimes be fun, but most engineers dread a scenario in which a design they’ve never seen is suddenly dropped on their desk, with a mandate to bring it to life. Looping in members of the engineering team early in the process will not only allow them to make material and construction suggestions, but also increases a sense of ownership in the resultant design.

  • Include Creative in the prototype kickoff & subsequent process. An equally frustrating scenario for designers takes place when their design goes into the engineering process only to re-emerge later looking completely different than they envisaged. Include designers in at least the initial planning meetings! That way, they can communicate which design elements are critical to maintain---and why---and which are more negotiable.

  • Encourage the teams to challenge each other. Sometimes a little friction can be a good thing! The Creative and Engineering teams should expect to have constructive discussions and debates over key design points. The best designers need engineering input to keep them grounded in reality, and quality engineers relish an opportunity to experiment with materials or processes to achieve a breakthrough look or function.


At Spectas, we live these principles daily, and every member of our Creative and Engineering teams is cognizant of the collaborative nature of their respective groups. The upshot? Better designs, a more efficient process, and a much higher likelihood that what the client approves will be able to come to market on-budget, eminently manufacturable, with its design integrity intact.

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