Product design strategy and industrial design
At the start of the 2000s, Huawei, the largest telecommunications equipment maker in the world, invited us to help them improve their market penetration in Europe. They wanted us to understand their company, their products and what made them special so that we could help them develop products with the right design language and user experience for European consumers.
The challenge was to design successful products for Western tastes that were true to the principles and values of the giant Chinese business. It would be a two-way process: just as we needed to understand the culture of Huawei, so Huawei needed to understand the ways of the Western consumer.
- Product Design
- Design Engineering
- Colour, material & finish
- User Experience & UI
- Trend Forecasting & Vision Setting
In the days before smart phones the market was saturated with competing handsets. For us, it was clear that the design process at Huawei needed an urgent overhaul. Designers were being given only a few weeks to design a cell-phone, sometimes without even time to think and sketch. We worked with Huawei’s executives to define a structured and strategic approach to design that respected the philosophy of the company and that could work in both east and west.
We initiated a quiet revolution within the design team, helping them to understand how their products should look and feel. The Chinese desire for elaborate technology was balanced with the European demand for simple aesthetic design. The result was a distinctive design language that at the time became central to Huawei’s international strategy.
One tangible product of this new design thinking was the development of the C7100 mobile phone. Aimed at the Chinese market, more than a third of a million were sold in the three months after its launch in 2008. At the time the company went on to develop one of the largest in-house design teams in the world with design centers in the UK, Japan and the United States.
Other projects included looking at the future of the growing mobile tablet market, finding new formats and user experience concepts for how consumers might like to use Huawei devices.
Huawei remains one of the world’s leading telecommunications manufacturers today.
We learned so much from tangerine. From the first project, they were quite smart. They built a design language, and it was a balanced not an extreme solution.
Xie Bin, former Design Director at Huawei London Design Centre
2008's best selling mid-tier handset in China