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[Indian Express] The Future of Nokia: Interview with Miika Mahonen - Part 1

Hello Fans, Miika Mahonen, Principal Designer, HMD Global, recently visited India to meet with a very special group of Fans for our very first Let's Talk event - on Design.

[Indian Express] The Future of Nokia: Interview with Miika Mahonen - Part 1

dipankar paul dipankar paul
Staff member  /  edited February 12

Hello Fans,

Miika Mahonen, Principal Designer, HMD Global, recently visited India to meet with a very special group of Fans for our very first Let's Talk event - on Design.

On the back of that event, The Indian Express has now published a long, detailed interview with Miika.

Spread over three parts, this interview sees Miika talk about Nokia of today, how his experiences inspired some of the new Nokia devices, the latest design trends in the smartphone market, and the future of smartphones.

Here's the Indian Express interview in full:

The future of Nokia: Exclusive interview with HMD Global’s industrial designer Miika Mahonen

Miika Mahonen has big shoes to fill – after all, he is the principal designer at HMD Global. The Finnish company, which makes Nokia-branded smartphones and features phones, has to live up the expectations of a brand that gave people their first mobile phones.

Born and raised in Finland, Mahonen knew he wanted to be a designer at an early age. Following his studies at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, he worked with a number of brands, including Samsung. Based in Shenzhen, China, Mahonen is behind a number of Nokia devices.

Excerpts from an interview where he spoke about Nokia of today, how his experiences inspired some of the new Nokia devices, the latest design trends in the smartphone market, and the future of smartphones.

Nokia phones have always been known for their practical designs. What story are you telling through the current-generation Nokia phones?

We are very much following what Nokia was doing before. So we focus on good user experience. And when I talk about user experience, I just don’t mean software… I mean, the whole package; it is like when picking up the device, how does it feel, how does it work, and how does the software work?

The Nokia quality and durability is still very much our essential driver. And those values go really well together with minimal Nordic design. And this is what we are developing now. So anything that’s not needed is not there. That’s why we use pure Android. Everything is simplified and the purpose is to have a really comfortable experience.

Image: Miika Mahonen, Prinicpal Designer, HMD Global, speaks at the Let's Talk Design event in New Delhi.

What goes into creating Nokia phones? Describe your design process.

The industrial process is very similar in many different fields of design. The first step is research and ideation. So in the research, we find a lot of consumer insights and then we start ideation and generate ideas around the new device and then we use the research to validate those ideas. After we have this design direction, we go to the second step. That’s called concept design and this is where we really start to do design products.

At this point, we have already got the engineering team involved so that we can validate these ideas that can actually be made into a real product. And after we have a concept design ready, we do a lot of prototyping and we do model making. After we get a go-ahead to make interval products, we start the concept development, followed by all the engineering and all the internal stacking.

The final step is execution, where the concept product will be prepared for production. All through the execution phase, the design and the designers are heavily involved.

Just to give you an example, I recently worked on the Nokia 2.3. The project started about a year ago and we have a target for a product in a certain price range. After taking a lot of insights, I started doing concept design, how this product could look like, how could it feel like, and what could be the finish? I tried to build life models, a lot of mock-ups and we did a lot of material testing, and then eventually as a team, we felt that this was a good product, and then the real development started.

As a designer, I also work with suppliers because we are developing new materials and new kinds of finishes. This [Nokia 2.3] was a very challenging project. So I was on and off the factory for about four months even doing the final colour, tuning the final material and doing things so that the production can start.

Read Part 2 - Form factors, innovation and the megapixel wars

Read Part 3 - Recreating classic phones, 5G, and what inspires Miika

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