Frank Nuovo

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Frank Nuovo (born 1961), an Italian American, has been a leading mobile phone industrial designer, and a former Vice President and Chief of Design at Nokia.[1]


Nuovo started his professional industrial design career in 1986 working with Charles Pelly's Designworks. Early projects ranged from furniture to medical instruments and from consumer electronics and transportation interiors to complex air traffic and automated control systems workstation designs. Nuovo's work with Nokia began as a consultant in 1989 while continuing work at Designworks/USA in Agoura. After many successful projects for Nokia, in 1995 he began working for Nokia full-time, setting up Nokia's first dedicated industrial design and styling group and center in Los Angeles, California. Over the next decade (1995 to 2006) Nuovo led the creation of Nokia's first global design team, which, during his administration, included additional design centers in Finland and England, and also included remote design teams in Denmark, China, Japan, Germany and other locations in the USA.

During his time at Nokia, Nuovo was responsible for leading design strategy for what can be considered one of the most successful stories of growth and success in modern history. Innovations there combine technology, usability and style with user centered design. Examples include the Nokia 101 (1992), Nokia 8110 (1996), Nokia 3210 (1999) and Nokia 3310 (2000). Nuovo and his team helped Nokia capture market share that maintained global leadership at levels more than twice that of the nearest competitor's global market share. While at Nokia, Nuovo was very active in brand development and renewal resulting in Nokia’s position as the worlds 6th most valuable brand (Interbrand).

Inspired by trend research experiences gained while at Designworks/USA, Nuovo led the creation of a colors and materials and graphics research group within Nokia Design. In 2005, with Nuovo's vision of a new type of color and trend design research lab, and with substantial funding and support from Nokia, a crucial collaboration was formed with Art Center College of Design's Karen Hoffman and Martin Smith. This collaboration finally resulted in creation of The Art Center College of Design's Color Materials and Trends Lab (CMTEL).

Significantly during this period, in late 1997, Nuovo first formally proposed the creation of a luxury mobile phone brand, which eventually became known as Vertu. Working alongside his associate of many years, Dr. Peter Ashall, a full business case and go to market proposal was prepared, and then, in 1998 was accepted with funding and core technology supplied by Nokia. While maintaining duties as Nokia Design's Vice President and Chief Designer, Nuovo also led the creative development of the Vertu brand identity and product portfolio as Creative Director and Principal Designer.[2] Vertu launched to the public in Paris in January 2002.

In late 2005, as Vertu was gaining momentum and profitability in the new luxury mobile phone market the company had pioneered, Nuovo began planning to leave his position at Nokia in order to focus on Vertu's success. Upon his departure from Nokia in April 2006, he maintained a role as Principal Designer at Vertu with concentration on the development of the Vertu brand and product portfolio - until his departure from Vertu in 2012. Additionally, Nuovo opened his own design studio in Southern California called Design Studio Nuovo, which he operates with his designer wife and business partner, Trina Nuovo. Design Studio Nuovo is where Nuovo is developing new ventures with technology and manufacturing partners from around the world including state of the art augmented reality ID, UI and UX solutions.

Nuovo left Nokia while on a continuing upward corporate performance trend. With financials as reported by Nokia, during Nuovo’s last quarter, Nokia reported a 21% rise in first-quarter net profit due to strong performances at its mobile-phone and multimedia divisions. The world's largest cell phone maker stated sales rose 29% and its market share rose by three percentage points, from a year earlier, to 35%. At that point, the products designed by his team were manufactured at a rate of over four hundred million units per year. After departure from Nokia, Nuovo's portfolio legacy contributed positively to what was a continuing upward trend with Nokia gaining to a 38% market share with net sales rising 28% through to the second quarter of 2007.

Nuovo graduated with a bachelor of science in industrial design from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in 1986. In December 2008, The Art Center College of Design honored Nuovo with the prestigious Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award. Additionally, The Art Center presented Nuovo with a doctorate of science degree in recognition of his life's work in the field of Industrial Design.

Nuovo’s design and innovation leadership has resulted in dozens of major awards and accolades around the world for him, and for his associates at Nokia and Vertu. These awards include several of Germany’s highly sought-after Red Dot and IF awards and American IDEA awards among many others. Nuovo’s work and that of his design teams have been featured in museums around the world including the Museum of Modern Art “Workspheres” (New York), and the Neues Museum Nürnberg Sammlung Design, The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum permanent collection and as part of the design triennial and also the Essen Design Museum, Essen, Germany.

Nuovo is an active lecturer at many international technical, marketing and design conferences, and academic venues around the world. Nuovo's life’s work and story has been featured in many regional and international publications and television shows globally.