I have been an industrial designer for more than 25 years and hold BS in Industrial Design and hold an MBA from Rensselaer Poly Tech. I have led global teams of designers and engineers and I an expert in materials and processes. Finally, I have developed products across numerous industries and hold more than 35 utility and design patents.
The title Industrial Design is confusing and often misunderstood. It is improper and offensive to describe Industrial Designers as the ones that "pretty things up".
For me, Industrial Design is the synthesis of engineering, design and business perspectives in the development of successful products. Success is measured in dollars but also in brand strengthening and consumer satisfaction. by these measures, I have been immensely successful.
If we were to turn the table (as devils advocate) an Industrial designer would say that a design engineer will refine the design (provided by ID) to ensure the most efficient use of material and details related to mold gating etc. Further, they must get permission to alter the design intent.
Please note that unlike engineering, Industrial Design is not "standerdized" and that different schools have vastly different programs that range from pure "art" to others that are founded in mechanical engineering. when evaluating a new hire for a project or a position, it is wise to gauge what skill set you need (perhaps based on our current capabilities) and evaluate the candidates body of work.
I suggest that there are many paths to new product development and that on requires a broad range of skills to not only cross the finish line, but to do so with grace. This may be the result of one or two highly (cross functionally) skilled people or by teams that collectively have these skills.
Finally, regarding draft.
Often, the first pass at a new design requires freedom to explore new structures, shapes, materials, mechanisms, etc.. Many Industrial Designers will provide "unencumbered" concepts (where draft and even assembly methodology is undetermined) to measure interest by the client or end user with an expectation of future refinement. This is NOT my approach or the approach of my staff. I hold that opportunities for creative solutions are revealed when one understands relevant molding/ forming and manufacturing constrains. It also saves time and money in the long run.
Thank you for the article, I agree that we need to clarify what these titles mean, but we must also avoid minimizing the importance of each other's expertise.