Punkt. is arguably leading the charge towards a more decluttered technological world. The company offers high end electronics with a unique design simplicity to help us unplug. Punkt. has recently become more well known for its mobile phone, the MP 01, that eschews any "smart phone" features and is an essence a pure mobile phone. We had the chance to interview Punkt.'s Founder and CEO Petter Neby and learn more about Punkt. and how the MP 01 came to be.
Q: What is your background, and when/how did you decide to start Punkt.? What does the name mean?
A: I was born and raised in Norway but I have been living in Italy for years now, I am an entrepreneur and my main line of business - apart from Punkt. - has always been software. Punkt. is the realisation of a lifelong dream. A consumer electronic company that puts people (rather than technology) first. I like to think that what we do at Punkt. makes a positive difference in people's lives by putting them back in control so they can focus on the things that matter in the real world. Full stop. The name Punkt. is taken from the Germanic word for ‘point’ or ‘full stop/period’, and was chosen to symbolise the way the company’s products are built around simplicity, clarity and focus.
Q: How would you describe Punkt.? As a technology company? A product company? A fashion company?
That's a good question! At Punkt. our aim is to rebalance people's relationship with technology, by taming technology. Technology tends to distract us so much in our everyday lives with constant connectivity and state of the art technologies at our fingertips 24/7 with simpler, focused products we strive to improve the quality of people’s lives by putting them back in control. I think this qualifies us as a lifestyle brand because it’s a mindset, but we are a design-led technology company.
Q: Switzerland has a very rich history with design, what does being based in Switzerland contribute to Punkt's aesthetic?
A: To be honest the choice of Switzerland is less for design aesthetic than it is for its reputation in product design excellence. Of course, Punkt. and the International Style that originated in Switzerland have simplicity and purpose in common: the belief that form follows function. The importance of being based in Switzerland is more about the seriousness in their attitude towards product design: socially useful, universal, precise and clean.
Q: We're big fans of the Punkt aesthetic - what drives it?
A: Well Jasper Morrison is art director at Punkt. and that says a lot. Our products have understated elegance and stand out for their clean lines, as consumer electronic products they have an unusual combination of simplicity and sophistication. The philosophy of the brand drives its aesthetic too: down to earth products that are built to last.
Q: What was the genesis for the MP 01?
I think we are too distracted by constant connection in our day to day lives, I created the MP 01, a simple mobile phone, to offer a viable alternative for those who want to take a break from it now and then, whether it's on the weekends or in the evenings, or just once and a while. Some people use it as their only phone, together with a laptop or tablet, but more often it’s used alongside a smartphone – operating as an elegant physical firewall against technological overload. The MP 01 is designed and built to be a pleasure to own.
Q: How did you choose to collaborate with Jasper Morrison for the MP 01 and your other products?
A: Jasper Morrison is renowned for his ability to enhance normality through design, I knew from the start that that was the design language we needed at Punkt., so I called him up and since then he has been on board as art director and product designer.
Q: In choosing the ringtones, how did you decide to collaborate with Kjetil Rosa Nilsen?
A: When we launched the DP 01 landline in 2011 we worked with the British sound artist Scanner for the ring tones. It gave the product a lot of personality and people liked the sounds. The MP 01 is a personal device and bespoke ringtones seemed the right thing to do again, this time we chose a Norwegian sound artist and we are very satisfied with the result.
Q: The MP01 has acquired almost a cult like status amongst design nerds, and those seeking to unplug. What do you think you did right in the product's marketing?
A: We launched the MP 01 with a very honest message about distraction and the importance of focus, that is what the product is about and the message of rebalancing our relationship with technology was warmly welcomed by general public, it was almost felt as if the conversation was overdue. The MP 01 received rave reviews from the press praising it as a groundbreaking tale on what a modern phone could do. We worked with our creative partner Rosie Lee who created, with the illustrator Anna Kovecses, a poster campaign to capture the human aspects of technology and the role it plays in modern life, the posters won the prestigious design award 2016.
Q: Where do you find the greatest demand for the MP01 coming from? US? Europe?
A: UK, Switzerland, US and Germany in that order.
Q: Why does the MP 01 only work on 2G? And when can we expect a 3G/4G compatible phone?
A: The 2G network became the default global standard for mobile communications in 2014, holding over 90% of the market share and operating in more than 200 countries. 2G technology is voice-centric like the MP 01. 2G supports long-lasting battery life, which is also an important feature of the MP 01. When we started developing the MP 01 it was certainly the network that accounted for the largest portion of the world's mobile connections. Technology evolves very rapidly and that is now changing, we are currently working of a 4G version due to demand especially from the US and Australia.
Q:What's next for Punkt in terms of products?
A: MP 02
Q: What other designers, brands or products do you admire?
A: There are many and I would rather not list them here, let's say I am inspired by Braun!