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January 3, 2012

Seven signs you have what it takes to be a Nokia designer

In 2011 alone, Nokia launched 25 mobile devices and more than 50 mobile device accessories. Every one of those products was the result of thousands of man-hours of design expertise. If, like us, you’ve often fancied yourself as a designer, you might have wondered what it takes to create amazing mobile tech like this. We spoke to Juha Kosonen, Principal Designer for Nokia’s Advanced Creation Team, to find out.

1. You trust your intuition

Unlike the Nokia Luna Bluetooth headset, which made it from concept to production line practically unchanged, most designs are rejected at the sketch stage. According to Juha, though, you should never shy away from provoking a strong reaction. “Don’t worry about having to justify or quantify your design. If you know in your heart you’ve created something unique, stick with it.”


2. You can empathize with users

Ever since the industrialization of consumer products at the start of the twentieth century, designers have had to study the connection between product, the user and the environment. According to Juha, “You have to put yourself in the shoes of the customer. I take all the devices I’m working on home with me and use them all the time, even from the very first build. You try to simulate real world use. For designers the form is important, but you need to be able to think of the complete experience.”

3. You know how to express your feelings

American Professor Edward Tufte once said, “Good design is a lot like clear thinking made visual.” It’s no surprise, then, that Juha thinks artistic skills are crucial. “I believe hand sketches are still the best way to communicate your ideas,” he says. “Before you go to the computer, you really need to know what you want to do. Computers are documentation tools, while the creativity happens in your head.”

4. You’re naturally curious  

These days everyone is talking about user experience. To really understand its importance when it comes to design requires incessant curiosity. “You need to understand people’s experience, and constantly ask yourself why they’re buying certain products,” Juha says.

5. You’re a good listener

From concept to final product can take anything from 12 to 18 months. During that time a designer has to take in a lot of information. For this reason, Juha says, “You have to be a good listener. You need to listen to the channels, to the business manager, the product manager and the customer before you make your concept. Then, if they want changes, you need to understand the rationale behind them.”

6. You want your designs to be loved

The Nokia 1100 is the world’s most popular phone, used by a staggering 250 million people worldwide. Even when it was launched in 2003, it wasn’t the most sophisticated design, but this makes it no less cherished. This, Juha believes, is what designers should aspire for. “It’s my dream, and probably every designers dream, to make products that people fall in love with. And not just now, but for generations to come.”


7. You’re honest

Industrial design is a marriage of different disciplines. It combines art and science and needs to take into account everything from aesthetics and ergonomics to marketing and brand development. Nonetheless, Juha believes you should always stay true to yourself. “There are lots of people with different goals involved in the design of devices. You have to make sure that if you make changes, you make them for reasons you believe in. Don’t compromise your vision.”

So, does this sound like you? If the answers yes, you might have just what it takes to create stylish yet functional mobile tech that’s adored by millions. And if not, don’t despair. We love to hear your opinions anyway!