Meet Adam Harrigan, Senior Industrial Designer at Koala.

Learn how Koala design beautiful furniture that is strong, simple to assemble, and made for the digital age.

Explore why getting your hands dirty is so important, how good mentors can shape your design process, and why research is crucial to Koala's success.

Some questions I ask

  • When did you realise you wanted to be a designer? (01:00)
  • How did you discover your passion for furniture design? (06:34)
  • What was the first thing you designed and made yourself? (07:33)
  • How did you get your start in furniture design? (08:58)
  • What are some of the ways you might build and test your designs? (13:17)
  • How did you approach working with more senior designers? (15:00)
  • What is your favourite failure from the early part of your career? (17:06)
  • What was it about Koala's story that most appealed to you? (27:53)
  • How did you approach the Koala bed base design given the constraints? (30:15)
  • When did you realise you had something that was Koala's aesthetic? (37:26)
  • What was the biggest challenge of designing the Koala bed base? (45:13)
  • How does sustainability factor into design decisions at Koala? (46:55)
  • What is the detail of the Koala bed base that you're most proud of? (49:38)
  • If you were to design the Koala bed base again, what might you change? (53:12)
  • What have you learned that you're applying to new Koala designs? (55:40)
  • What qualities are important for furniture designers to have? (1:02:30)
  • What advice would you give to anyone just starting out in furniture design? (1:04:57)

In this episode, you'll learn

  • What Adam's grandfather helped him realise (04:08)
  • Adam's biggest inspiration as a designer (10:39)
  • The key lessons Adam learned by shadowing his mentor (12:04)
  • What prototyping looks like in the early stages of furniture design (13:27)
  • The importance of communication in design (14:00)
  • Why visual communication works best (16:10)
  • Why the unwillingness to pivot can take you in the wrong direction (17:29)
  • The unconscious practice we've both had instilled in us (20:29)
  • How creating a minimum viable product removes perfection from your process (27:16)
  • The problem Koala's bed base design was made to solve (29:06)
  • How Adam prototyped the design for the Koala bed base (34:46)
  • Why keeping the Koala bed base honest was so important (35:16)
  • What showed up in the early test assemblies (37:50)
  • What fear Adam had about his design for the Koala bed base (38:26)
  • Why women were a key part of the brief for the Koala bed base (39:20)
  • How customer insights and research improved the assembly experience (40:55)
  • How throwing pillows on the floor led to one of Koala's best received features (43:50)
  • Why looking at your designs in retrospect makes such a difference (54:57)
  • How Koala's "canvas" philosophy contributed to the new tv unit design (59:30)
  • How good mentors contribute value to you over a lifetime (1:06:25)

Also mentioned in this episode



Mitch Taylor

Vikram Viswanath

Koala bed base

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