‘Neil Foley Designs’ (NFD) is a multi-disciplinary design consultancy firm based in Bangalore, India, known for its highest quality of design excellence. The firm has won over 39 national and international design competitions. They believe in transforming the lives of people through their product designing. In an exclusive e-interview with The J Mag, Neil Foley, founder of Neil Foley Designs talks about his design approach, his innovating curiosity, and his journey towards achieving success as one of the top product designers.
Understanding gaps and cultural references is a fantastic tool for innovation
An Active Designer Spirit from an Early Age
As a child, I was always curious to find out how things worked. I always then questioned – “Is this the only way it can be made or done? What if?”. I used to put down my ideas in the form of rough drawings. I think this curiosity and blending it with communicating them through drawings led me to take up design as a profession.
I learnt the skill of drawing and painting from my father, who is a retired Lt. General from the army, an avid painter, and a lover of wildlife.
After my 12th grade, I joined the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and specialized in Product Design. On graduating from design school, I worked with Titan and designed many successful collections of watches, sunglasses and retail solutions. Post which I started my design firm and have worked on a variety of design projects with various companies and designed numerous successful products in the field of consumer durables to retail solutions, automobiles to urban space solutions, branding to packaging ideas which have helped clients elevate their business.
Design is the voice through which we hope to make the world we live in better, for each one who comes in touch with the final product and the chain of production.
The Unique Approach Tool
Our approach to design thinking is collaborative and we use design as a tactical tool to approach today’s evolving consumer needs in the context of evolving cultures.
We believe, the design is the way forward for an improved lifestyle, and through it, we hope to bring a progressive and positive change in the lives of people emotionally and physically. We aim that the consumer’s experience with our product is always driven towards usefulness and wellbeing.
As most of our clients put it, ‘Neil Foley Designs brings breath-taking ideas to reality’, because of their strong knowledge of manufacturing, consumer understanding, and a superlative sense of style.
Our list of successful and popular products is in the field of consumer durables to retail solutions, automobiles to urban space solutions, branding to packaging ideas which have helped clients elevate their business.
An Advocate of Good Designs
I always start with thoroughly understanding the challenge at hand. Asking as many questions as possible to clarify the intent. I believe the more one deep dives into understanding the product, its customer, and the environment it is going to be used in, the closer I get to solve the challenge through design.
Product design to me is about the perfect blend between functionality and aesthetics which brings about the perfect customer experience, physical and cognitive.
Behavioural and Reflective Design Principle
The overall design approach remains the same. But every new project we work on comes with its own set of challenges. What changes is the product itself, its usage, the environment it is going to be used in and the target consumer. I believe the design process needs to be fluid and over the years we have been evolving our design process to make it behavioural and reflective.
Spanning Different Disciplines with “Challenge Accepted” mode
Everything around us is designed. It has always been designed whether one interacts with it through touch and feel or visually or by all. The design was always a necessity, today there are no questions.
Every project we work on comes with its own set of challenges. I am deeply connected with all the products I have designed since each one of them solved a unique consumer or technology challenge. Among the many the kitchen appliances especially the mixer grinders posed several design intents that needed to be incorporated into a single product. These mixer grinders helped companies create a whole new kitchen experience and thus have generated huge revenues and have substantially impacted the image and valuation of companies.
As a designer, I push the envelope of creativity, design sensibility and manufacturing levels and continuously up my design thinking and visualization levels by participating in platforms like International design competitions. The toughest award was one of my earlier awards- ‘The Braun Prize’. My sewing machine design has highly innovative and broke technical and aesthetic barriers. The product sill appears in trend magazines and the innovation still is shown in design schools. I feel happy to be a future thinker.
From Product’s Viewpoint
Everything around us is sensitive to design and therefore impacts everyone. A subtle change of colour and form can alter one’s mood. Colour, form, textures, usability, ergonomics, semantics etc. are elements of design that alter perceptions. Like these elements, price is an integral part of a product design. Just because a product is designed it does not mean that a product is going to be expensive. It is all about where the product is going to be positioned and designing for that need. In our design process, we build in design thinking where we design to cost, i.e. we design around a product price fit and where design and price go hand in hand.
We have our strengths as a country, and it is up to us to take our crafts and skillsets to the next level. Design plays a large role in the same. Understanding gaps and cultural references are a fantastic tool for innovation.
Walk the Talk with Nature for Inspiration
Inquisitiveness, passion to learn and my want to change the future for the better plays an especially important role in my creative process.
Nature is one of my greatest sources of inspiration, I cannot work without understanding the science behind the art. I find the design solutions in nature, we have what we need, we only
need to find it.
I am also an aviation enthusiast and everything about it inspires me. I try and bring that love for a subject into my work. The Squadron watch collection was one such product line
inspired by my passion.
NFD and Beyond
We are in the process of taking our design studio to more countries. We have been undertaking design projects from across the globe and see the increasing need for design in most businesses. From Hollywood to Bollywood, from software companies to hospitals, from consumer durables to automobiles, we continue to do design projects and are lucky to be able to enhance the lives of people through our designs.
Neil’s designs speak for itself and he has been described as one of the most influential designers known for his uniquely innovative and yet practical designs. of his generation. Working across a wide range of disciplines and with some of the best-known and most prestigious brands technology to transportation, fashion, jewellery and the luxury goods sector, Neil is certainly a creative source of inspiration.