Back in 2006 when Foley Designs was founded, the potential of industrial design was relatively little known. Hence Michael Foley dedicated his efforts towards propagating the idea that industrial design bestows long-term value on any company. His 13-year stint at Titan — and his degree from NID, Ahmedabad — ensured that he was on solid ground as far as his aspiration for creating a world-class design consulting firm in India was concerned. “India has great talent and design is now coming of age. Ten years back, risk taking was lower, thus translating into less challenging projects, pushing the studio to widen its width of expertise,” recalls Foley.
While their strength lies in industrial and environment design, and packaging identity, the studio’s design specialisations are not constrained, but driven by a problem-solving mindset. “I have been pushing the idea of collaborative thinking, cross-functional problem solving and building a greater depth of expertise in fields that are closely allied to industrial design. As a consequence, companies are today seeing a greater opportunity in approaching us with ideas at the germination stage that we handhold till the pilot launch. This is a promising ‘perspective change’ and hopefully will transform the way we work in the future,” shares Foley.
For this Bengaluru-based designer, simplicity of thought and “not being afraid of doing something I haven’t done before” has been a constant. It has helped the studio take on new challenges and learn new domains in a shorter time frame. With each new project, the need to innovate (“and not imitate”) has made the process more challenging, he admits.
Reflecting over his decade-long practice, Foley believes he has only touched the surface when it comes to problem-solving through design — “given that India is a vast country with enormous opportunity for design intervention”. He sees the past as nurturing expectations and establishing credibility. “I do believe (in) making systemic change through design. We look forward to projects that influence such fundamental change. Areas such as public design, solving the problem of waste, simple solutions for environmental challenges, making cities better, are a few that we are attempting as opportunities and solutions within the studio.”
As for mistakes, while they are part of the process, Foley advises that one should try and avoid them at the cost of a client or a project. He suggests, “A simple rule to follow —believe in the iterative process and the pre-emptive nature of creative problem solving, which allows you to take risks and gauge them early on, without impacting a customer.”

Looking Back

The Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton brought the studio closer to ‘executing’ innovation. Foley explains, “It was the first large-scale collaborative effort (that unravelled an) opportunity in product innovation, melding craftsmanship, material and process innovation, and technology customisation.”

Looking forward

Currently, Foley Designs is building brands within the studio that create an impact on people’s lives. “We have incubated ‘Tilt’, a brand that combines sensible craftsmanship with intelligent design and are looking to roll out more such initiatives from the studio in the near future,” shares the designer.

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