Pentagon Design is one of the leading Nordic design agencies, creating holistic concepts for user-driven products, packaging, spaces, services and brand experiences from their Helsinki home. They attribute part of their success to ‘rational passion’, so we asked Pentagon’s CEO, Arni Aromaa, to tell us more about it…
Hi Arni and welcome to Creativepool. We’re intrigued about this 'rational passion' approach you guys follow, can you tell us more about it?
‘Rational passion’ refers to our design thinking approach. In the process empathy and creativity shake hands with analytic approach and structured evaluation. We rely on a systematic design process but always make sure there is room for creativity within the framework. We truly work with our heart and soul, but we always aim to create measurable value for our direct customer.
Between your talents in spatial, branding, product and experience areas, what project would you say really shows off the kind of things you can create?
The most interesting projects are the ones where all of these aspects meet. Regardless of the project’s outcome, the strategic concept has to be created first. That is where our core competence lies and its what we are best at. A recent example where several of these areas meet was the ‘reinventing’ of Finnish Liquorice for Fazer, a project where we developed the whole concept around users before creating a visual identity and designing packages accordingly.
Product design being my own background, these projects will always have a special place in my heart. The Nest range for Turkish Vitra is a good example of that.
What project have you particularly enjoyed working on this year?
One very special project was the Fiskars Pavilion. The brief was very open - we were asked to create an uplifting spatial experience in the Fiskars headquarter that offered a memorable experience and showed visitors the different Fiskars business areas: home, garden outdoor. The new Pavilion is a space where you can experience brands and iconic products with special installations which allow visitors to experiment and observe products in a new and exciting way.
And which has posed the biggest challenge?
Projects with a fussy focus are the most challenging and yet also the most rewarding at the same time. Identifying the relevant focus and framing the design task is often very tough. Getting it right is very satisfying and forms a good platform for the later phases of the design work.
Since starting out in 1996 how has the kind of work you produce changed?
We work with a more strategic approach than in the beginning. We still try to keep up the same hands on approach with lots of enthusiasm and an ability to question the norms as we did in the early days, but now we combine it with our experience and strategic vision.
What new technology has you and your team excited?
We work with various new technologies in our different projects: 3D–printing, augmented and virtual reality, the whole concept of IOT. They all offer exciting new possibilities. As we speak, we are discussing a project with distance touching technology, which seems very interesting.
What's your favourite kind of brief?
A well structured brief with logic, links to the clients’ brand and business strategies, as well as criteria for successful outcomes. Our favorite brief is a strategic design brief which identifies new opportunities and allows us to form novel concepts accordingly.
If you had to work in one medium for the rest of your career, what would you choose?
I hope I never have to make that choice! The whole fun with design is getting to work with a multiple of mediums from concrete materials to digital!