The Israeli design on America’s high-tech industry

Gadi Amit, founder of NewDealDesign: “Consumer electronics requires high quality design more than ever.” A little industrial design can make a product go a long way. Take the design of Apple computers, iPhones and accessories. Discriminating consumers often purchase these …

Gadi Amit, founder of NewDealDesign: “Consumer electronics requires high quality design more than ever.” A little industrial design can make a product go a long way. Take the design of Apple computers, iPhones and accessories. Discriminating consumers often purchase these products for the “look and feel” and not necessarily the technology that makes them tick.

With experience working for Apple through the US-based frogdesign firm, and now major clients from the computer industry, such as Dell, HP, and Samsung, the Israeli industrial designer Gadi Amit, 46, is running a tight and successful ship at the American design firm he founded: NewDealDesign, based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Fast Company and BusinessWeek consider Amit’s industrial design firm to be a top 10 in America, and in consumer electronics, he’s an easy top five.

Recently partnered with Shai Agassi, the founder of the electric car company Better Place, Amit took on the role of designing Better Place’s electric car charging ports. San Francisco and Hawaii have already committed to test-driving the project, and in Israel says Amit, who is an old friend of Agassi, the NewDealDesign recharge stations are already on the streets.

The first ones were inaugurated last December. “We’re moving forward – moving very fast and the project is very tangible. It’s real and it’s happening,” Amit tells ISRAEL21c. “My contribution is to make sure the product is cost-effective, user-friendly and has a significant signature, one that’s playing well with the urban setting.”

Interesting, not innocuous

As the first international electric car project to hit the world so boldly, the design, says Amit, had to be “interesting, not innocuous, with sophisticated design. This is important to Shai and Better Place.” The charge spots should not be “another lamppost stuck in the street,” adds the married father of two.

A frequent jurist on design panels, wracking up more than 65 design awards of his own, Amit, who’s originally from Tel Aviv, is consistently written about in American and international design magazines.

And he’s green too. The Dell Studio Hybrid, a new PC with a version in bamboo, which NewDealDesign had a hand in designing, has taken in some serious design awards. Other product designs like an interactive wall-floor mat, or Cocoon, a mass-produced, easy to assemble disaster relief shelter, turn heads.

“We do primarily technology and consumer products: Palm, Dell, Microsoft. Basically all the big guys, even in Japan,” says Amit.

But the secret to success is not just about industrial design, Amit who leads a 15-person design team, says. It’s a whole package of services: strategic industrial design, physical interaction design and branding services.

Founded in 2000, Amit’s client base includes a very long list of smaller and Fortune 500 names. Among them are Fujitsu, Verizon, Logitech, Palm, Rio, Nokia and many more. “Our hands-on flexible approach created market-leading, award-winning products from $100k digital equipment to a sub-$100 gizmo, and from innovative kitchen appliances to the latest wearable technology,” says the company.

As the principal designer and founder of NewDealDesign, Amit looks after project strategy and goals, as well as the finest details. “I am Israeli born and bred,” he says proudly. He also trained at Israel’s Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, making him the only designer of his calibre from Israel who was trained at an Israeli design school. Other Israeli designers with prominence internationally, such as Ron Arad, learned abroad before embarking on a successful furniture design career.

Frog leaping to the MOMA

“I came to the US at 31,” says Amit, who’d been working at Sci-Tech, a high tech company in Israel. “I was designing nearly all of the products. I then took a career downshift move and went to frog and climbed the food chain.”

Today in America, you don’t have to buy a new bamboo PC, or wait for the Better Place electric car to come to a city near you to see Amit’s designs. Instead you can visit the Chicago Athenaeum, the Cooper Hewitt-National Design Museum, and San Francisco’s MOMA.

Amit believes NewDealDesign is a cut above competing design companies. “I stayed away from building a giant operation like the big multi disciplinary agencies of the ’90s,” says Amit. “We are doing really well despite the economy. We’ve seen year over year, a 30-40 percent increase in business. It’s been a phenomenal run in the last four years. Knock on wood that nothing will happen.

“Besides,” he adds. “Consumer electronics has a rhythm of its own. It requires high quality design more than ever.”

About Karin Kloosterman

Karin Kloosterman is an award-winning environment news publisher who founded Green Prophet (www.greenprophet.com) to connect North Americans to issues that matter in the Middle East. She is the CEO of the Internet of Things startup flux, a company that is making social grow tools for urban farmers everywhere (www.fluxiot.com). Karin can be reached at karin (at) fluxiot.com.