Connection
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Sound Designs

Connection caught up with Group Director of Design, Simon Matthews, to talk about his background with Naim Audio and his approach to industrial design.

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Q What is your background working with Naim Audio? And when were you first introduced to the brand?
A First and foremost I have been a music lover since I was a child and a hi-fi nut since the late eighties. My first ever experience of Naim Audio was being blown away by an in-store demonstration and spending a long summer break during my degree working all hours to buy a NAIT for my system. I never looked back!

After graduating in Mechanical Engineering and also in Product Design, my first experience of Naim Audio in a working sense was during the late nineties when I was fortunate to meet and briefly work with Julian Vereker. Since that time I have been responsible for supplying the bulk of Naim Audio’s product design output whilst working at two of the UK’s finest industrial design studios. The journey is complete since I took on the role of Group Director of Design in 2012.

"The goal is always to create designs that delight and excite our customers old and new."

Q What does your current position as Group Director of Design entail?
A Fundamentally I have to drive forward and deliver a vision for the visual and physical appearance of all product output for the group. My job is to try to capture the heart and soul of each brand and represent that in the physical domain. The goal is always to create designs that delight and excite our customers old and new, and also aim to do justice to the technologies and electronics that lie within these magical boxes.

Q How closely do you work with Naim Audio engineers when designing products?
A I work to align with the engineering, management, marketing and purchasing teams when creating conceptual design output on all new development programs. I then remain working very closely with all the teams to help ensure that the end results are manufactured with as much integrity and inherent performance as possible. This methodology and approach applies as much to our entry level products as it does to flagship equipment.

Q What has been your favourite Naim Audio product to design so far and why?
A I have to say that as a music head I don’t find it at all hard to get motivated by the idea that my designs are contributing to the overall satisfaction our products provide. As much as I love working on our flagship equipment like Statement and the NAP 500 amplifiers, I get equal pleasure developing our entry-level products as the challenge is always to deliver a true Naim Audio experience across our entire portfolio, with no exceptions.

Q What kind of work inspires and influences your design?
A I like to look at the creative output of designers and artists in many fields. I love the functional purpose of an Eames chair, the tailoring in a classic suit and also great architecture. Obviously Dieter Rams is a pivotal figure in hi-fi design and is also very inspiring to me. And please don’t get me started on vintage guitars and watches because I could be here all day!

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Group Design Director Simon Matthews explains in a Q&A session