Back Interview with industrial designer Jo Barnard, Founder of Morrama
Jo Barnard, industrial designer and Founder of Morrama, gives us some insight into projects from her award-winning design and innovation studio.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and Morrama
Morrama is an award-winning design and innovation studio founded in 2015. Our unique lean industrial design process is tailored to startups and established companies who want to work like startups to create beautiful products and experiences.
Working out of our Shoreditch office, our core team of 6 designers come from a range of backgrounds with expertise in design thinking, industrial design and design for manufacture.
We also utilise a network of experts from different sectors on each project as necessary to validate and inspire the design process.
We take our clients on the entire journey from defining a product’s reason to exist all the way through to production. Our ability to handle this process end to end ensures consistently thoughtful results.
What's the story behind the launch of Morrama?
I launched Morrama back in 2015 having been working as a freelance designer on projects for brands including John Lewis, TomTom and charity GravityLight. Seeing a need for an agency that focused on design and innovation for start-up companies looking to push boundaries and challenge market assumptions, Morrama was conceived.
The company was initially set up alongside a fellow Brunel graduate, Rob Bye, who later parted ways in 2016 – when we were then just a team of three. With Morrama, I wanted to create a business that is very much about the why as well as the what and the how.
We start every project by questioning the rationale behind a client's vision and helping them write the story they wish to tell through their brand and product.
Which recent project are you particularly proud of?
The latest project we are super proud of is the refillable deodorant packaging for Wild ( wearewild.com ).
Developing 100% plastic free compostable refills that could fit in a Large Letter was a big challenge which relied on a close collaboration with both the manufacturing partner in China and the UK cosmetic supplier.
The aluminium and recycled plastic case is beautiful and minimal. The details are what makes the premium experience.
Deodorant packaging for Wild
Are there any particular brands or projects that you would like to work on?
We want to take on more sustainable projects and focus on understanding ourselves and what we stand for as a business, educating other people on what exactly sustainability means in order to deter from putting price before impact, and favouring cheap over sustainable. I also want Morrama to enter more markets that we as a company have not previously worked within.
I want to see us creating more for solutions for those whose need innovative design to help their lives, markets such as the elderly. And I want to challenge new companies to be more innovative in their thinking and take more responsibility for the product they put out into the world.
How did you get into creative product design? Has that always been your background?
I did art, maths and physics at school and always wanted to work within this industry. I went on to study product design at Brunel and went straight into an industrial design role after graduating, so I have always known where I wanted to go.
Angle Razor, for which Morrama worked on all design, branding, packaging, art direction and design for manufacture
What do you enjoy most about working in design?
I love the collaborative process. Some of the team are stronger at the early stage creative and others, like me, are problem solvers and love the later design-for-manufacture phase. Working together you learn so much and it makes the process so enjoyable.
As a founder I take a lot of energy from witnessing my team find the same pleasure and excitement and pride in the work they are doing on a daily basis. There is nothing greater in my role than watching as my team impact great change and grow as design professionals.
What are some of the biggest challenges in your line of work?
We take risks in every project we take on and there is always a chance it won’t work out and you hit a dead end. But that’s the creative process. Fortunately we are never short of ideas.
Toothbrush design for Ordo
Who or what inspires you the most?
There are people who make me feel like I can always do more; people like Greta Thunberg, and there are those who remind me not to over think things and to be more at peace with the present moment; people like Alan Watts or Ekhart Tolle. I’m also currently very much into the ideals of Wabi Sabi, but more from curiosity than anything else.
There isn’t one person or thing that has inspired me most, more a culmination of writers, designers, storytellers and passionate people that fill my head with ideas and inspiration.
Day-to-day this comes mostly from the people around me; clients chasing their startup dreams; my team with their endless source of creative enthusiasm.
What advice would you give to young designers?
The most important thing as a creative is to always stay true to yourself. No matter your age, background or gender, you are bringing great value to the team you are working with, so never feel as though you are inferior.
To you, what is the power of design?
Good design tells a story. It transports a user away from the noise of everyday life and brings joy in that moment.
Product without design has no emotion. And life without emotion is not living.
Find out more about Morrama at www.morrama.com
Rol Model, a city bike that comes 99% assembled out of the box