Nokia looks to emerging markets to expand design

Nokia is in discussions to open another design base, possibly in the Far East, in a bid to tap into the growth potential of the mobile communications market in emerging nations.

Nokia chief designer Alastair Curtis says he is looking to bolster the company’s main design centres in London, Helsinki, Los Angeles and Beijing.

‘We are already looking elsewhere, though I don’t want to say where at the moment,’ he says. ‘I think we will see growth in the Far East and growth in the West Coast of the US,’ he continues.

As well as its four main design studios, Nokia has design teams in Copenhagen, Denmark, and at three other sites in Finland (Salo, Oulu and Tampere). Over the past nine months it has also opened what it calls ‘creative spaces’ inside design schools in Bangalore, India and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Speaking at the Nokia Design open house press event last week, Curtis said he was pleased with the results of the new Soho design centre in London, which is at almost the required size.

‘In London we are looking for user interface and user experience competencies, though I don’t want to grow the design operation that much bigger here. We are pretty close to capacity. But we are looking to grow outside London, particularly in Beijing and the Far East,’ says Curtis.

‘London has performed better than we could have possibly expected since [the office] opened six months ago. The attraction of new talent has been amazing and the spirit in the studio is terrific. I think that where we are as a design organisation is better than where we have ever been in the past,’ he says.

Curtis says he sees an important future role for design inside Nokia, shaping products and services for the future that will transform the core of the business.

‘I think design can be more influential from a business growth perspective than it has been given credit for in the past,’ Curtis explains. ‘Nokia has always been open to change. We want to use design to push the development of the business and help transform Nokia again for the future.’

‘The game is changing. The days of purely designing product are gone. Now, it’s as much about designing the ecosystem and services around the product as it is about the product itself,’ he adds.

‘The reality is we are moving away from the product-centric approach. The big challenge is designing the experience,’ he says.

Nokia Design launched the 6600 Fold (pictured above), the 5000 and the 8800 last week. It also unveiled its Remade concept phone, made entirely from sustainable materials.

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