Mark Delaney’s move to Nokia notches up another triumph for in-house design as it reaches increasing respectability.
The ascendancy of in-house design – once the poor relation of consultancy – is due in large part to the outstanding success of Apple star Jonathan Ive who added yet another accolade to his trophy cabinet this week in the form of an honorary doctorate from the University of the Arts. But others have followed in his wake.
Delaney himself has worked in-house before – as design head of the London-based Samsung Design Europe, until he was made redundant some three years ago. He spent much of his time designing mobile phones for the Korean manufacturer so is well equipped to take on the job in hand – design director of broad appeal at Nokia. But he also brings with him consultancy expertise through Plan, the strategic group he set up with Kevin McCullagh in 2005.
This bodes well for other consultancies hoping to work with Nokia, for though Delaney’s is not necessarily a commissioning role like that of, say, Alyson Jakes at Tesco, internal understanding about how consultancies work and what they can offer is always a good thing.
But Delaney’s appointment gives an extra boost to the mobile telecoms sector, which is using some of the best brains in the business to put design at its heart. His move, for example, follows that of Manchester-born Alastair Curtis who took over as global head of design from the legendary Frank Nuovo in March.
Meanwhile, things are changing at Orange, with Neil Churcher, once at BT, but more recently a professor at Italy’s interactive design college Ivrea, now bedded into the London team, and in-house design champion Clive Grinyer, newly returned from a long stint with its France Telecom parent in Paris.
The shifts won’t stop there and as Nokia’s plans for a design centre in London’s Soho are gaining momentum, there are more senior design appointments in the offing. Watch this space.