Nicol Boyd

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 December, 2008, 12:00am

Who is he? A product designer from Britain who came to Hong Kong last year to establish the Office for Product Design with a friend from college. A graduate of the prestigious Glasgow School of Art, Boyd landed his first job at Alessi, where he worked with some of the biggest names in Italian design. But it wasn't until he left the homeware brand that he became a fully fledged designer.

How did he get into product design? Boyd almost studied graphic design but plumped at the last minute for product design. 'It seemed really cool. There's much more opportunity to express yourself. I like the three-dimensionality of it and the tangibility of a product, which rarely exists in graphic design.' Boyd had just completed the product design course in Glasgow when Alessi came looking for aspiring designers.

What then? As a product developer in a small town north of Milan, Boyd worked with the likes of Achille Castiglioni and Ettore Sottsass. 'These are some of the guys who founded the concept of Italian design,' he says. 'Alessi is a very particular company that works in a very particular way. It's one of the few companies where designers are pretty much king.' After two years, Boyd left and began a journey that saw him free-lance in Milan, complete a degree at the Royal College of Art in London (where he met his work partner Tomas Rosen) and work at design consultancy IDEO in California and then Nokia in London.

What brought him to Hong Kong? 'It made sense to come here rather than travel all the time,' says Boyd, who built a network of freelance clients in Hong Kong after leaving Nokia. 'Obviously, Hong Kong is a hugely developed city but it has an underdeveloped creative economy. That is an attraction. There's more opportunity here to have a bit more say.'

What has he been up to lately? The partners recently completed a project called Cultural Connections and Everyday Objects, which features items inspired by Chinese culture. After studying artefacts in Taipei and Beijing, the pair created a range of products, including Ding, a cast-iron casserole dish inspired by an ancient bronze ding (three-legged cooking vessel), which is available at Jia Inc. 'The ancient ding is embellished with a lot of elements that aren't functional,' Boyd says. 'What we did was to strip them down to their essence and build them back up in a modern context.'