Design Engineering

Qualitative Design, and how Ford gets it


General DPN

Are you a Ford, GM, Chrysler or Toyota car person? I’m asking myself that question right now, because up to this point I’ve mostly owned Honda vehicles.

However, I’ve got a business trip to go on, and I’m now sitting in a car that I just got from Enterprise Rent a Car, and they put me into a Ford… the new Ford Fusion SEL – I was not so sure about this at first. Now this car really started to amaze me, not only with its sculpted lines and design features outside, it really dropped the wow factor inside.

I sat there thinking about how it is that Ford is using Design, Engineering and Technology to keep it nicely situated compared to the recent troubles that found GM and Chrysler looking for bail out money. It seems that Ford started earlier than the others to link good Design to sales, that choice is starting stick and buyers are being attracted by emotion and smarts.

Not only do the lines on this car look great, inside this car has Microsoft Sync, an in-car communications and entertainment system – an amazing little tool on the dash board and it only took me a short time to connect my iPhone using the Bluetooth settings. Now this is not really new technology, as it’s been in higher end priced vehicles for awhile, but putting it into a Fusion is really cool.

It appears that everything has been well thought out. From the cruise, audio and media buttons on the steering wheel, offset by metallic colors on a baseball stitch black leather steering wheel. I mean using this feature alone; I can hit the media button and dial a phone number using my own voice, as the car syncs to my iPhone to place the call… all through the radio speakers. Let alone the cool LED lit colors to personalize the interior lighting, seen largely in the cup holder – seven options of lighting – blue, red, violet, orange, indigo, green and yellow.


Consider this wow factor, aside from the Ford Fusion, while sitting in the driver seat in a parking lot, I’m using a free app on my iPhone called Dragon Dictation, to basically write this blog or should I say speak this blog into text. My point is that new design and technology features are helping to drive product development in so many products.

You see I’m willing to bet that the success of Ford’s ability to avoid the recent melt down was based on some smart business choices in the board room, not by a CFO but by a CDO Chief Design Officer, making the pitch to put a huge effort on re-designing their vehicles with style. Fords success I’ll suggest goes all the way back to the New Ford Mustang redesign in 2004 and the Eleventh generation F-150 redesign in 2004. These vehicles really started to shape a new company and management gambled that the public would buy into this vision for the new Fords showing a cutting edge company in which people got excited about their vehicles.

Qualitative measurements are usually held for tangible numbers, but design? This is an emotional measurement ventured out on by the sales of the buyers – the consumers. So my challenge to you is to start thinking about the work you do, and how design might play a roll in making that work better. Now if you are in the business of making a product – whether that is industrial-, commercial- or consumer-friendly, I think it’s time more companies from the boardroom really consider how important good design styling of their product plays a role in connecting with buyers.

The success of products designed here at have always been the results of a CEO or President who has a passion to make their product look better and work better in order to outperform the competition. So take some time and look around to see products that you really like and figure out what it is that you like about those products. And then ask yourself that same thing about the product your company is making. Then bring that realization to the next meeting and start being innovative, creative and effective on getting Qualitative Design into production. is an Industrial Design Firm serving companies looking to bring new ideas to their product development process. Contact David Duncan This is the second contribution of his monthly blog for Design Product News. More of his blogs are available at

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