Gadi Amit is president and principal designer of NewDealDesign - the 2013 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award Winner - and one of Fast Company magazine’s 1000 most creative people. Gadi has been responsible for projects including the Fitbit line of wearable devices, the Ara Modular Phone, the Lytro Light Field Camera, TYLT Devices, Whistle and Sproutling wearables. He was also named a ‘Master of Design’ in 2010 and alongside his team has received over 100 design awards.
You’re speaking at PD+I 2016, what made you decide to get involved?
I was involved with the 2014 conference and I am always very interested to see what’s happening all around the world in terms of innovation. The UK has a tremendous innovative community which always attracted me. Conferences are all about ideas and being exposed to new trends, and London always provides new inspirations and ideas, as well as the chance to meet interesting people.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a variety of projects, probably the most comprehensive ever. We’re currently dealing with products at the cutting edge of medicine, as well as autonomous objects – which are not limited to cars. We are also working on a variety of smart home devices and applications, nearly all of which are a combination of strategy, physical, digital and engineering. Most projects arrive as 360 degree engagement, so as well as design, brand strategy is important, and as well as the object, so too is the digital experience.
Why did you become a designer?
I don’t know that I had any other choice. I come from a family of two architects and discovered industrial design in my twenties. It’s my calling and I have never tried anything else.
Is there a designer or company you particularly admire and why?
It’s a complicated question. I am inspired by a few designers and find people like Naoto Fukasawa and Antonio Citterio to be very influential. There are a lot of very good designers out there, it’s hard to pick only a few when there are so many. I admire companies which take big chances and try to push boundaries, for example Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors. BMW is also picking up the green challenge with its i division, which is an impressive approach.
Should you meet your heroes?
I have met Naoto once or twice and Benoit Jacob from BMW I (at PD + I, by the way). I think there is a difference between the persona of a designer and a design itself. We shouldn’t personify design work. I have a slight reservation about design heroes and personification of designs. Some people have large, impressive personalities and some are much quieter, but that doesn’t impact the stature of work that they do.
What product or design do you wish you’d worked on and why?
I would wish for the chance to work on an autonomous vehicle or a house robot which everyone can use. The intelligence of moving things is a topic I am intrigued by.
What is the greatest challenge you face as a designer?
Advanced technology and the challenge to bridge the gap between humanity and technology which is typically non-human. We need to take culture and humanity seriously in design for tech. It is our greatest challenge, especially in terms of intelligent ‘things’. We need to make their assimilation into our culture much more smooth, so that they bring inspiration and happiness to humanity rather than mistrust.
Can you describe NewDealDesign in 10 words or less?
A technology design studio working to humanize technology for people.