Design Vision at HTC

by Luke Wroblewski September 23, 2009

A few years ago, I wrote about the unique design relationship Bang & Olufsen has with their long term design agency:

'Personally, I have no influence on design.' says B&O CEO Torben Sorensen. Sorensen runs the company's operations, but he hands over control of product development and design to one super-dominant personality -a freelance designer, no less. The truly amazing thing is, David Lewis doesn't even work for Sorensen. The native Londoner heads his own studio in Copenhagen, yet he has controlled design for nearly every B&O product made since the 1980s. -The Case for Fanaticism

So it was with interest that I read about Taiwanese handset maker, HTC's unique design relationship with the San Francisco-based firm One & Co:

"The relationship is an unusual one. After hiring One & Co for a consulting project in 2006, HTC acquired the firm in December 2008. Though now a wholly owned subsidiary, One & Co continues to operate as an independent consultancy.

To keep their ideas fresh, One & Co designers rotate between HTC projects and jobs for other companies, including Microsoft, Kodak, Nike, and European furniture makers. "Phones are about capturing what's coming tomorrow, while furniture is about longevity," says Zellweger. "It's good to have that balance in your head." Some materials migrate between projects, such as a plastic mesh that found use as a lamp cover, a bracelet and the speaker cover in the Hero.

One & Co's sphere extends to marketing, which will ramp later this year with HTC's first national consumer campaign. One & Co won't design the actual ads, but it did mock up samples to convey the desired tone." -HTC's Design Future