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April 3, 2014

Metal guru: how aluminium is key to the Lumia 930 design

Jonne Harju, from Nokia Design, talks to us about the past, present and future of Lumia design following the launch of the Lumia 930.


Lumia 930 is said to feel very comfortable in the hand and well balanced. Would you agree?

When it comes to designing Lumia devices, everything we do is about making it simple, reducing what you have and being minimal.

For the Lumia 930, similar to the Nokia Lumia Icon, we put maximum effort to create the most purest and honest aluminium frame body that fits seamlessly together with the vibrant back cover shape.

The pillow-like back surface shape comes from the fact that we don’t have a ‘camera bump’, while the feelof the device is very soft in the hand. The lack of camera bump also makes way for the wireless charging component on the back. However, despite it being such a technical device, it’s very human.

Do you think it’s unique within the Lumia range?

The Lumia 930 unquestionably has DNA from other devices – specifically the Lumia Icon and Lumia 925 – but still has its own character. It takes the idea of simplicity a lot further; not just aesthetically but from a manufacturing process aspect, too. A single aluminum frame body means less manufacturing time. Everything about the Lumia 930 is streamlined.


Apart from the Lumia 925 and Icon, did you take inspiration from anywhere else?

There was couple of things that did inspire us – honesty and reduction on its highest level. With our design approach we are always giving the customer what they expect. If we say we’re using aluminium, then we use real aluminium. If we say we’re using high-grade plastic – that’s what they get, approach is always honest. As we are pushing the simplicity to the level as what Lumia 930 is, it allows us to combine those honest materials in perfect partnership.  Especially the new bright orange and bright green – evolved from our established Nokia Lumia CMYK strategy – are more vibrant and intense than ever.


How important is it for you to blend the industrial design with the user interface?

By coincidence, the Windows Phone UI and our hardware design share the same principles and design philosophy – minimalistic and simplistic. The square icons match the angular phones while the curved glass makes the user experience a lot more natural. There’s a human quality throughout to remind people it’s not just a technical device.


You’ve been a Nokia designer for almost a decade. Do you think there’s been a design consistency, which has culminated with Lumia?

It’s been quite a ride! How we designed phones in 2005 was completely different compared to now. Back then it was more about the yearly range of designs and inventing new looks. But then we started to think and work from the inside out, which brought with it a whole new way of working; judging the best combination of components and the right steps to improve, understand and learn.

And with this mindset in our mind we created a broader portfolio level approach to our Lumia family. It helped us to create a unique and distinct character for our whole brand, making design one of the key differentiators for our whole portfolio


What’s your favourite piece of design ever?

From a Nokia point of view, I loved the first N9 device because it changed the company in terms of the way we look at mobile phone design. Outside of that, it’s amazing to think how bold Citroën was when it brought out the DS. It looked so futuristic back then and still looks great fifty years later.



What does the future of smartphone design look like to you?

Not too far from now, we’ll have a much greater understanding of what purpose the smartphone should serve and what the concept of a smartphone actually is. What is the right size? What should the price point be? What are people willing to carry? Do they want to get bothered by constant notifications? Will people counteract the idea of being always on and always connected? Should smartphones know when you’re getting stressed and switch off your emails? There’s an incredible amount of industry research being done around questions like this.

We are the testing generation for what’s next.