The role of designer is changing
How would you describe your work at Omuus?
Today at Omuus I hold a role as a Creative director and country manager from London.
I have a background from the corporate world, so working for a small agency is very different. One needs to be hands on in every level of design process with a blue-sky innovation strategy and foresight thinking. One has to apply design principles and knowledge in very different industries at the same time.
At Omuus we work in a small teams between three countries. Since we all know each other very well due our Nokia background we work very seamlessly together even if we are not in the same office on a regular basis. We work with a multidisciplinary mindset and try to find the right partners to collaborate with outside Omuus.
Nowadays many companies are drowning in information yet starved for the meaningful knowledge. I feel my role here is to help curate this knowledge and support companies and consumers to navigate through the noise to find clarity and solutions. Since I’m qualified in applied colour psychology I work a lot with brand creation to help develop design stories for a deeper understanding of mood management and the strategic use of colour.
Can you tell us about your journey to Omuus?
My background is from fashion and jewelry design for H&M. In 2001 I was offered a position as a CMF product designer in Nokia, that had the vision of connecting people in the world of mobile phones. At Nokia I was able to apply my knowledge of fashion product collections and develop phone categories that fit personal styles as an accessory. My career at Nokia brought me and my family to many places in the world, Finland, China and UK working with amazing people on a global scale. When Microsoft purchased Nokia it opened up new roles in design within strategy and design innovation.
Three years ago, I left Microsoft and allowed myself to take some time to reflect and update my education. I love the idea of lifelong learning and was able to do courses in subjects such as applied colour psychology, service design, UX and human computer interaction. I was contacted by an old Nokia college in China who was working for a fast growing start up Tic Watch. She was about to do a marketing project fusing fashion/art with AI technology for the launch of their latest smart watch. The theme required Nordic design and she was looking for Nordic designers. I contacted Omuus for this project, it felt obvious since everyone in Omuus had been my colleagues and friends for 10-15 years. The project became very successful and after that more projects came in from other (Former Nokia) colleagues around the globe.
Please describe some highlight of your career?
Thinking back on my days working for Nokia there are many things to be proud of:
The 2006 Industrial design excellent awards IDSA silver for consumer product collection L’Amour Nokia. That was one of the fashion collections we did that really pushed the boundaries between fashion and technology – introducing materials that had never been seen in this industry before together with a really strong brand story.
The 2013 Industrial design excellent awards IDSA Gold for Colour and material design strategy, was really a celebration of how CMF can unite a brand and create something truly unique.
During my time with Omuus I also want to mention our project for ONITOR. In this project we worked with the brand and design team of a startup to help them discover and agree on the right personality type for the brand. Using ready-made step by step tools to understand the brand character and the relationship between color combinations, form and materials to create harmony and a clear message to the consumer. It was a strategic way of using applied colour psychology throughout all of the brands touch points successfully, managing the multi sensorial experience applied to the whole brand and all the artefacts, space design and services.
Read here more about projects like ONITOR.
Which are customers most frequently asked questions and how do you answer?
Can you give us a new material?
So much is happening in this area of material technology and it is important to define the experience you like to create and why. There can be lack of awareness of what materials are actually available already and introducing new materials may not be the right solution. Many times, it is about working with what the industry already has – using those materials to their full potential and find ways to make them smarter. New is not always the way forward. There are so many interesting materials that can be worked on and reformed into different contexts.
Can you make this product more fashion?
Today there are so many new innovations and technologies but the challenge is that they have mostly been created with technology first in mind, not considering humans, human life and the importance of experience. It is crucial to understand the underlying dynamics of peoples needs and behavior. We use different metrologies to identify and explore these areas better and to help build a solid product and brand strategy, that will attract and engage with your consumers.
What excites you about the future of your field?
The role of the designer overall is changing – we have a responsibility to be part of solving problems the world is facing. Designers need to think a lot about the relationship between technology and people’s needs. This challenges us to explore new areas of knowledge such as artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning and deeper understanding of people’s needs and behaviors through cognitive and neuroscience.
This is a very exciting time for us designers, but it requires that one has a curious mind to solve the actual problems and work for the good of generations to come. I see my role more like a curator helping companies to navigate in a very complex world.
I believe that my background as a material designer has given me the knowledge and experience to look design process in multiple aspects – from concept to completion. Today material technology is leading innovation design in many different areas and bringing substantial value to contribute into a sustainable society