According to Industrial Design Report Afam News, During london design festival 2017, benjamin hubert debuts the lifestyle-led tech brand nolii and its first family of contemporary products. this collection sources influence from the fast-paced, nomadic working and lifestyle activities of people in modern cities like london, UK. most importantly, it aims to solve everyday consumer technology challenges, whilst disrupting the market through delivering beautifully appearing and functional gadgets. Afam News spoke with benjamin hubert, creative director of layer design agency, at the launch of nolii for design frontiers. Debuting at design frontiers during london design festival 2017, nolii aims to keep people connected, no matter where there are or what task needs to be completed. co-founded by technology and design entrepreneur asad hamir and benjamin hubert of LAYER, the inaugural collection is composed of five products: ‘bundle’, ‘couple’, ‘keep’, ‘set’ and ‘stack’, which all can work alone or together in a versatile system. from charging your laptop on-the-go to minimizing clutter and cords, the technology improves user lifestyle, rather than complicating it. each object displays a minimal design language, where consumers can choose between finishes of soft pastels and contrasting or complementary colors.
Afam News: what was the reason for creating nolii and how it all come about?
benjamin hubert (BH): the project started quite conventionally so nolii as a client – not called that at the time – came and asked us to develop a collection of useful technology accessories and then it kind of evolved into us becoming creative directors. along that journey, we were obviously considering the products, art direction, branding, and tone-of-voice, as well as our own invested interest in it. that is how it came about, but the reason for nolii is down to our common experiences of tech troubles and the deficiencies around the devices we rely on. We saw an opportunity within all this research and insight gathering to make small incremental improvements to the things that actually make your experience much better, and we brought it all together in a cohesive brand. we didn’t want to not do something that is super techy in its appearance, so we went with something that is softer, related to fashion, and in that sense disrupt the market. we didn’t want it to be all about technology features, instead it is much more about values.
Afam News: the range delivers high performance as well as good design, but how accessible is nolii?
BH: good design isn’t for the few, it should be for the many. if you go on the nolii website, you will see that it is really competitive. I am interested in getting design into as many people’s hands as possible and make hopefully big, but at least little improvements on the experience they have on a daily basis. that was the true focus on the nolii project.
Afam News: which product showcases how the range best solves normal technology problems and an improved experience?
BH: there is so many user cases so each of them has their value set, core user group and user scenario. my personal favorites, so the ones that I am really excited about using, are three of them: ‘bundle’, ‘set’ and ‘stack’. I am super annoyed with all my cables, they always break, they always get dirty, they always fall off my tables, so ‘bundle’ seems really obvious to me, and its fun as well. I like that kind of cute form factor. I also travel a lot so the travel ‘set’ really appeals to me. as well, I use my laptop a lot in places where I can’t get power or I don’t want to because its too annoying or embarrassing to find a plug socket. in this case, ‘stack’ really appeals to me and it just has that very nomadic working approach.
Afam News: importantly, the collection’s launch highlights how different color combinations can be used. how significant was customization as a factor for your designs?
BH: the whole thing will be mix and match really, so all the products are at least made from two components – ‘kept’ being the only exception. we will introduce more colors in november 2017, and when this happens, we are going to have a very ID-style approach where consumers can combine the color options for themself. this brings more flexibility as well, so if you don’t need the base, then don’t buy it and just get the cable. it will offer freedom and flexibility for people that need it.
Afam News: what were your key focuses when designing the appearance of the products?
BH: I think this explores a couple of things really. it is all about experience first and foremost, so the experience of plugging something in, taking something out, turning it on. this is crucial in how you perceive the quality of these kind of products. I am really interested in these very visceral, kinetic interactions, and it formed the way and why behind how we were connecting parts together, be it through magnets or dips via positive and negative shapes. I think that every touch point becomes a quality code so that you understand what the performance of the product will deliver. this was a big part of the project. this also continued with the material selection as well. we have super matte, really flat, quite tactile, speckled surfaces; all the things that elevate plastic and therefore elevate the experience.
Afam News: how were you and layer design able to deliver on the technology side to this collection?
BH: we work with some of the biggest technology companies in the world, and so we have a good base knowledge and access to technologies that a lot of people don’t. this project isn’t based so much on high technology, it is more about value. as we go forward and we start exploring wireless abilities and we start looking at designing for different parts of the world and different user cases, then it will become really forward thinking technology.
Afam News: after its launch at design frontiers during london design festival 2017, what will see from nolii in the future?
BH: later this year, we will be focusing on color and availability to retailers. next year, we are working with a charity in east africa to work on sustainable power sources for people who need connectivity to run their business but are in places where they don’t necessarily have that opportunity. then their will also be new products later on, so it will be a constantly evolving collection.
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