Adventures in Industrial Design

“It’s easy designing one product well. It’s quite another matter to design a portfolio of products all with the same identity and intuitive usability.”
When Cisco acquired Tandberg in 2010, we knew we were getting a video conferencing leader with products that nicely complemented our existing collaboration portfolio. But some of the good things that Cisco received by acquiring Tandberg may have gone more unnoticed at the time, including a small, unassuming team of designers in Norway that quietly joined the Cisco family. It didn't take long before we realized what we had. Shortly after joining the company, the team in Oslo was asked to join forces with other designers to redesign and streamline the entire Cisco collaboration portfolio. The resulting designs are an unqualified success, garnering eight Red Dot Awards—like Oscars for product design—in 2014 and 2015. Hallgrim Sagen led the industrial design of the award-winning products. He was Tandberg's first industrial designer, and is now a director of User Experience and Industrial Design for Collaboration Solutions at Cisco. Hallgrim with some of the Red Dot Award-winning designs. "It's easy designing one product well. It's quite another matter to design a portfolio of products all with the same identity and intuitive usability," says Hallgrim, who lives and works in Oslo. Hallgrim's team was clearly up to the challenge. The products were recognized for their light aesthetics, arresting audio and video impact, all grounded in a consistent, easy-to-use and compelling experience—referred to as "humanizing technology"—according to Cisco Vice President and Hallgrim's manager Snorre Kjesbu. "[The Red Dot] recognition is a rewarding validation for the no-compromise, design-led approach we undertook when developing our newest video solutions," wrote Kjesbu in a blog post last year. Hallgrim continues to refine and improve Cisco products, leading a global team of about 40 designers in Cisco's Collaboration Endpoints Technology Group. Hallgrim believes in the power of cross-functional teams, guided by a strong design culture, to create user experiences that set Cisco collaboration solutions apart.