Sami Paihonen – Ixonos

Sami Paihonen is the Vice President of User Experience Design at Ixonos. Ixonos is a creative technology company. They dream, design and deliver powerful user experiences and sustainable solutions based on Internet, cloud and mobile technologies.

What does Design mean to you?

Design for me is means to an end, meaning approaching problem or opportunity through meticulous thinking of all parameters, visible and invisible, and finding a solution which will delight or help people. Sometimes the most important part in creating a product or service is how you have reached the solution rather than what the outcome is.

What inspires you?

Everyday ingenious ideas and solutions. I find it tremendously fascinating to find ingenious solutions in everyday life, no matter what they are. How I approach these is that I try to keep my eyes and ears open, and when seeing something that I find interesting, I try to dig deeper, how it is done, read potential background information from creators or users and this way tear it to pieces to make me a design blueprint. Especially interesting is to find the most important decisions needed to make and what was the first question that was thrown when the journey to create the product, service or solution. This can be anything, from architecture to everyday objects. I don’t like that we sometimes take things in our lives for granted and given; as designers we need to be able to see beyond surface.

What would be your ideal collaboration?

It would be inspiring to include some other design areas, architecture, fashion, interior in order to create something that blends digital and non-digital worlds together. I also still haven’t seen a collaboration where advertisement and marketing truly engage with design to all the way into development seamlessly bringing the core thoughts and aspirations of designers in their purest forms. It feels that advertisement especially in digital wants to keep its distance with creation of digital designs. I would also welcome opportunity for deep collaboration between industrial and digital design – uncharted territory still in many ways.

How do you think digital technology and social media affect the creative industries?

I think they are a blessing and a curse at the same time. Never before you are able to have so much data, inspiration and different viewpoints in your disposal so easily. On the other hand, all these create a noise, which can block your thinking due to its overwhelming amount and media making claims on trends and hypes which may start take as givens.

Digital technology has given us a tool to iterate design many times before reaching the final solutions, and social media paves the way to create a dialogue with peers and users alike. One part of this holistic design as I see it, is this dialogue which of different parties to form a basis where design and its details are spawn from. It is amazing how active users can be if you give them opportunity to share their views and in some ways, to share their lives and contexts of use.

What has been your biggest learning whilst working within creative industries?

Never take anything as given. We are exposed to hypes and trends in technologies and design all the time, and this may cause you to think that innovation and opportunities are very limited. This can happen especially in big organizations where design needs to show its value as the company culture may favour engineering or business higher. At the same time, while it is good to question givens and norms, it is equally important to propose answers yourself and not to stay on questioning side.

I am tempted to give a second one, which is that there isn’t a perfect creative agency as many like to show themselves either as ultra-creative or jack-of-all-trades in design and creative side. The bigger the promises, the bigger suspicion I have on true deeper understanding what creative agency is really capable of.

What are the different challenges you face working with corporate or private partners (designers/sponsors) or clients?

Biggest among all is to understand the value of invisible part of design compared to visible. With invisible I mean the background work, in-depth understanding, choices for features, process that is taken to come up with final solutions – there are so many things that need to be in order before even the most simple product is created. Design is sometimes a burden, as its reach is understood in so many ways; some see it as a niche, some see it as a saviour.

As for designers, the biggest challenge is the importance of presenting your design or concept in a way that client understands 100% what do you mean and choices you have made to reach the final result. It is sometimes very hard, I know, to present everything in such detail that others can see your creative thinking process, but the best design is as good as you can explain and present it – especially when there is a client who needs to decide or make a selection.

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