Interview: Jessica Nebel, Founder at JN Design Studio, Germany

Jessica Nebel is an entrepreneur / designer heading her own eponymous firm in Germany, Jessica Nebel Design Studio. Her firm provides design and consulting services to start-ups, corporations and leading international design agencies, some of them include Huawei Technologies, Designaffairs, icon incar and Pilotfish.

Before founding her own studio, she had worked for international and renowned clients like BMW, BMW MINI, Schwarzkopf, Sennheiser, Bayer MaterialScience, Dell, TomTom, B/S/H, British Telecom and Asus at various design consultancies in UK and Germany such as Frog Design and Pilotfish.

She earned an MA degree at the Royal College of Art in London under Ron Arad in 2007 after graduating as Industrial Designer in Germany.

List of her awards include German Design Award Nominee 2015, iF product design award 2014, Red Dot Award 2014 (Honourable Mention), Index Award Nominee 2011, iF concept award 2009, Bright LED Competition Finalist 2007 by Designboom, red dot award 2005, iF concept award 2005, Mia Seeger Prize 2004 (3rd prize), iF award Lebens(t)räume 2004 (2nd prize).

The listing does not stop here, the very talented designer has been featured in number of international magazines like Vogue, Financial Times, Elle Decor, Vanity Fair, Design Report and Form Magazine. Not to mention, this list is just the beginning of her career, there’s more to come from this multi-talented and immeasurably creative designer. Lately we got the privilege to interview her, and we were able to dig out gems from the mind of one of the most creative genius, please scroll down and see yourself;

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TechieTonics: How did your career in designing begin? Where did you grow up and how far is the environment responsible for shaping up of your profession?

Jessica Nebel: It all began with a visit to a Dieter Rams exhibition when I was at the age of eleven and the monthly catalogues featuring office products on my parent’s kitchen table. Since then I knew I wanted to become a designer. The Braunschweig University of Art taught me how to do functional Industrial Design, the Royal College of Art formed my understanding of conceptual design.

TechieTonics: What’s the specialty of your venture, the Jessica Nebel Design Studio?

Jessica Nebel: My studio’s field of play is a vibrant mix of technology and consumer products, lifestyle, furniture, interiors and environments. Juggling with these different areas and different types of clients gives a fresh perspective to apply on any type of product and helps to refrain from conventions within its particular field. I always strive to combine plain design with a new and unexpected twist. With my designs I intend to make people think about the way they interact with their everyday surroundings.

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TechieTonics: What are your thoughts on the visual elements of a design that make one product more recognizable or interesting over another?

Jessica Nebel: In my opinion design is not only about the looks. Looks and visual elements can be one approach to make a product more recognizable but it should always go hand in hand with usability. Looking at a product or system from a new perspective and trying to apply an unusual but intuitive way of handling it can make it stand out from the crowd. Applying new or unconventional materials that improve the usability or that support sustainability can be another approach.

TechieTonics: From your experience, which sectors do you think currently benefit most from ID (Industrial Design) and why?

Jessica Nebel: Start-ups and crowd funded projects (e.g. on Kickstarter) benefit a lot from ID as they are based on innovation and as they have not established themselves yet. Good Industrial Design gives them an opportunity to set foot on the ground and make them look believable and feasible. Moreover the usability aspect can be double-checked during the design process.

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TechieTonics: Do you agree with the notion, design will be the key feature in the next wave of sustainability?

Jessica Nebel: Yes, I agree. As long as the client allows for changes the industrial designer should always try to push the sustainability aspect, either by designing products that become better or more interesting by time and through usage or by applying reusable and recyclable materials.

TechieTonics: Is there any crazy client story with the big lesson you learnt from the experience?

Jessica Nebel: This is not a client story but rather a PR related story. I was once approached by a journalist who wanted to publish a product of mine in a magazine. I asked him to send me the pdf of the article and the cover of the magazine once the article was published. He answered me via email that he has to first double-check with the chief editor – which I found slightly confusing. A few weeks later he sent me the pdf. My product was shown both in the article and on the cover of the magazine!

This made me learn one thing: If you wish for something to happen do not hesitate to ask. Next time I might ask directly to publish my design on the cover of the magazine 😉

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TechieTonics: What’s the startup scene like in Germany? In your eyes, what are the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs in the country?

Jessica Nebel: Germany is well known for quality products and high standard production. Unfortunately, I do sometimes feel that Germany is not open enough for innovation yet.

TechieTonics: What are your future plans with respect to your designs? And presently, what are the interesting things that have hooked your attention?

Jessica Nebel: One thing I have learned is not to plan too far ahead and to keep yourself open to new things that might come along the way.

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TechieTonics: Which future technologies are you excited about?

Jessica Nebel: For sure rapid prototyping is still a new technology with a lot of potential especially for entrepreneurs. It will allow everyone to experiment more and to make a first idea tangible. I am curious to where it will lead in the future. Another trend I am excited but at the same time slightly worried about is the internet of things and how everything becomes more connected. It opens up a lot of opportunities for new products and user interfaces but at the same time people might get more and more disconnected from the “real” world.

TechieTonics: Any piece of advice you’d like to give to our readers before signing off?

Jessica Nebel: Do not wait too long to start doing what you like to do. If you do not like something stop doing it – and stop thinking too much as this might refrain you from getting started.

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Rapid fire round:

TT: What is your latest obsession?

JN: Interior Design and Food

TT: What inspires you in your city?

JN: Discovering new small shops, cafés and bars.

TT: Your favorite pieces of music?

JN: I like a mix of Funk, Easy Listening and Jazz

TT: If you could choose to make a dream come true, it would be?

JN: This might sound a bit off-topic but I wish that medical research will not be blocked by commercial interests anymore.

TT: If given a week’s holidays, how would you spend them?

JN: At the beach.

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This was indeed an amazing interview, thank you Jessica for taking out time in helping us go about a virtual meet up. Your work is truly an inspiration, am sure like me readers too have enjoyed it thoroughly. Please know that you are welcome back any time and we look forward to visiting with you again and seeing much more of your work in the future. Wish you all the very best for all your future endeavors.

About Pooja Kashyap

A CPD certified Fitness Trainer, Pooja also likes to spend time reading and blogging the latest research and discoveries in science and how technology is shaping the world. Besides writing, she enjoys reviewing books and taking interviews of creative/innovative people. Currently, she is located in Noida, India, where she actively participates in marathons as well. She is also on Quora l Twitter and LinkedIn.