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Eero Miettinen
Eero Miettinen
Eero Miettinen

Eero Miettinen is Group Design Director of Nokia Design. Prior to joining Nokia in 1998, he worked as a designer with the Sisu and Saab automobile companies. He is a recipient of the Kaj Franck Design Award and is on the Board of Directors of Design Forum Finland. At the beginning of 2006, Design Forum Finland initiated a strategic plan to improve international marketing of Finnish design and to reinforce its position internationally. While presenting the integral role design plays at Nokia, Eero discusses how Finland intends to position design as an essential part of Finland?s national image by 2010.

Miettinen has worked as a designer for the Finnish automobile and truck industry and in companies focusing on high technology. He also has wide professional experience of the internationalization of companies and the resulting requirements placed on designers. Eero Miettinen has taught design at the University of Art and Design Helsinki and the Helsinki University of Technology.

Upon graduating from the University of Art and Design Helsinki in 1980, Eero Miettinen began his career at Sisu-Auto Ltd. where he designed heavy-duty vehicles, industrial tractors and trucks. As head of design at Saab-Valmet Ltd., Miettinen concentrated on automobiles. Together with his team, Miettinen was responsible for the conceptual and year-model design of convertibles, among other products. Since 1988 Miettinen has been in the service of Nokia as the head of a large team of designers. He underlines the importance of not only collegial cooperation among designers but also the collaboration of various professional groups in creating products.

Eero Miettinen has been a teacher and instructor for over 20 years at the Department of Industrial Design of the University of Art and Design Helsinki and also at the Helsinki University of Technology. The prize-winning designer says that he likes teaching, as it gives him an opportunity to approach design in a meditative and experimental manner. Dialogue with students of design and the passing on of information gained through experience to young people is important for the development of the field in general, says Miettinen.


How do you define yourself as a designer?
I´m an industrial designer, product designer, however during the past five years in my professional career  I´ve moved towards application-, service- and content design, at the same time my personal interests are more towards arts and traditional design.

What was your first professional design?
My first professional design was the Sisu S- series trucks  1978-1983.

What are the influences of your lifestyle to your designs?
I love sculpting so complicated 3 dimensional forms and combinations of those are still the driven influence.

What does design mean for you? A profession or a lifestyle?
A passion and a profession, not a lifestyle.

Do you have any specific method, or planned work chart when you are designing?
I´m not good in practicing what I preache: An organised and consistent workflow is essential to any industrial designer, however now a days there seems to be enough of administrative forces to take care of schedules and budgets so I´m more refering to the creative part of the work which always requires  a fine balance of freedom and constraints.

Do you think that Computer is just a tool for the designers or is it a medium for enhancing the creative process?
It´s not any more a tool only. As sketching for some, 3-D modelling is for more and more designers also a tool for exploration, not only for execution.
However one should never evaluate a 3-D form without a tangible model, so milling machines or rapid prototyping tools are always required as well.

How do you feed your designer core?
If I understand the question correctly, my advice is, don´t ever stay and sit on your designs and innovations, somehow share them. If you sit on them it creates a plug of creativity, new ones don't emerge as you only think and keep guard of the old ones. However also take in consideration the IPR issues, it´s the main part of your professional capital.

In a global view, how do you assess the design of today and when you have started your professional life?
Design has finally broken through globally, like the advertising business in the 1950´s. Add the word design to any subject and it immediately gets more valuable with or without any substance.

The context of design has grown immensely. We are talking about expierience design, service design, application design, interaction design, user interface design etc.. These were areas of design that were naturally included into the education and profession of industrial designers, now they´ve grown in to specialist areas of there own.

There is a belief as Italy is the center of design? Do you think that there is a design geography like this on the world?
Italy is the origin of modern western civilisation and thus has the longest tradition of designed objects produced in high volumes. It´s a history and presence we still can learn a lot from. However similar things as ever precious we can find all over the world and we should understand and learn from as many sources as possible.

Form follows function?
If form starts to harm function then the design has definitely gone wrong, so yes, form follows function.

According to you, where the joy of design starts?
It starts in the inexplicable feeling of pleasure certain objects give to a child when seeing and feeling them. Very much later some of the children learn to understand that the feeling is called design.

On which side should designers stand? Manufacturers? or users??
Users, people firstly and always.

Nokia is one of the foremost global companies in the world and you are designing countless products everyday for all over the world. What is the challenge of Nokia design?
The challenge of Nokia Design is to renew itself constantly.

How do you define Nokia design?
User centric, friendly, representing personal values.

Finland is aiming to develop a national image by positioning design as an essential part of it. Where does the Nokia design stand in Finland?s design policy?
Nokia is a global company operating on all continents and most of the countries in the world. It is essential to understand people and there needs in all corners of the world. Being Finnish in it´s origin helps the company to stay humble in it´s operations because we always have our origins as a reference of scale and quality.

Nokia is unique in  the in the history of industry and design in Finland. We also have the responsibility to share our knowledge and expieriences with the trade.

What depicts the successful design? Is it connected with the selling rates?
A designer can earn the respect of the public, collegues, superiors in many ways. Success is usually connected with financial values.

As a designer, do you have an assertion of shaping the future or do you seek the shapes of the future?
Definitely shaping the future.

Global environmental problems and the ecological effects of materials and technology are being discussed.  How much of the resposibility should be the undertaken by designers in those issues?
A designer is always responsible for his creations. Environmental and ecological approach should be taken care of in everything we do.

What should the priorities of design education be?
We should be able to incorporate commercial and technical dimensions into our work, however our core competences are in understanding people needs and fullfilling those through our designs.

What are your advices for novice designers?
It´s always been a profession and conviction for the future, and now still is. See, listen, feel, learn, understand and interpret in your own individual way.

What do you know about design in Turkey? Do you know any Turkish designer?
As a former car designer I naturally very much admire the career of Murat Gunak.


...culture that you appreciate...
I ´ve been fortunate enough to travel around the world and learn to know wonderful people and cultures. After travelling for 25 years without a break it´s better and better to come home.

...country that you want to live?

...cuisine that you like most?
It´s on of the biggest excitements to expierience new placed new cuisines. I´ve also learned to cook myself and it´s  one of my dearest hobbies.

...drink that you prefer?
A cold beer after sauna.

...painter that had influence on you most?

...writer that you like most?

...kind of book that you prefer?

...movie you like most?
Modern Times, Chaplin

...director you like most?
David Lynch

...style of music you listen to?
Classical, opera, most music.

...your own design you like most?
Saab 9-3 convertible 1994-2002

...design you like most?
Citroen DS

...designer that you respect most?


This interview was made in May 2007. Designophy ©