If there’s one thing that practically everyone agrees on when it comes to Nokia phones, it’s that they’re beautifully designed and as hard as nails.
In fact, there’s an entire genre of memes dedicated to their amazingly indestructible nature. While these are loads of fun, what they show is how the principals of industrial design underpin everything Nokia does. But what exactly is industrial design and why has it been so central to Nokia’s evolution, and reputation?
What is industrial design?
Industrial design has its roots in early 20th century Germany. Eager to catch up with the industrial dominance of Great Britain and the USA, the state began to sponsor efforts to integrate traditional craftsmanship with industrial mass production. This eventually led to the creation of the Bauhaus, a school which was a to have a huge effect on not just industrial design, but everything from typography to architecture. Rather a group of like-minded creatives, than an explicit design philosophy, Bauhaus inspired designers embraced the new era of mass production as an opportunity to create art for living. You don’t have to look far to see their influence.
The World Capital of Industrial Design
In fact, if you happen to be anywhere near Helsinki, this year’s World Design Capital, you can just jump on a tram to the Cable Factory. Here you’ll find Hi Design 2012, an exhibition dedicated, to showcasing Finland’s amazing wealth of industrially designed products. Finland, as well as the other Nordic countries, industrialized a lot later than most of Western Europe. As a result, the Nordic countries were better able to preserve their traditions of craftsmanship and integrate them into commercial production. Today, the Finns produce a huge selection of carefully constructed mechanical masterpieces, everything from stunning lifts by Kone to kick ass snowmobiles from BRP Finland. Then, of course, there’s Nokia.
Nokia helped put Finnish Industrial design craftsmanship on the map, so it’s no surprise an entire floor is dedicated to mobile tech. The exhibition, People Made, which first kicked off at the London Design Museum, looks back over 20 illustrious years. From classics like the first mass-market digital handset, the Nokia 1011, right up to the Nokia Lumia 800 and 900, you get a real sense of Nokia’s design heritage. The beauty of these devices, as well as accessories like the Nokia Play 360 and Nokia Luna, are great examples of how industrial design has evolved over the decades. We’re sure that those early German design pioneers, from almost a century ago, would have approved.
But what about you? Are you a fan of the sleek minimalist beauty of industrial design or do you enjoy something more decorative? As ever, we’d love to hear your thoughts here or at @Nokia_Connects.