neil poulton industrial design is 30
30 years of signature design.
established in paris in 1992, neil poulton has designed highly successful products and lighting for over 30 years.
poulton has a distinctive, signature approach that results in “deceptively simple looking”, mass produced objects “characterised by a poetic, individualised aesthetic”.
neil poulton is known for his many best-selling and award winning designs, notably for italian lighting brand leader, artemide – and for tech designs like the iconic orange rubber lacie “rugged” hard drive – a product which journalist adam wray described in 2021 as belonging to “the special category of consumer electronics that double as fashion objects”.
since it’s introduction in 2005, “rugged” has become a pop icon that has sold over 6 million units.
neil poulton’s designs are included in the permanent contemporary collection of centre georges pompidou in paris – he has been listed in time magazine’s “the design 100 : the people and ideas behind today’s most influential design”.
portrait by nicolas foucher ©2022
neil poulton’s deceptively simple looking objects belie their technical innovation
— jennifer hudson, “process : 50 product designs from concept to manufacture”.
neil poulton gained a bsc degree in industrial design (technology) at napier university in edinburgh in 1985 and was awarded the siad chartered society of designers medal for the best british student product designer of the year. in 1988, he gained a master’s degree in design at the domus academy in milan, italy, under italian architect andrea branzi and designer alberto meda. poulton’s tutors included italian architect ettore sottsass, german industrial designer richard sapper, isao hosoe and anna castelli ferrieri.
neil poulton first came to public view in 1989 as the creator of the ’ageing pens’. also known as the ’penna mutante’ (the mutant pen), these pens were made from a living, wearing plastic, which ’ages as layers of colour wear away through use’. the ageing pens were exhibited in london’s victoria and albert museum, centre georges pompidou in paris and the axis gallery in tokyo.
poulton worked briefly for french designer philippe starck in paris from 1991 through 1992.
poulton has been a guest speaker, visiting professor and judge of degree projects at schools across the world including central saint martins college of art and design in london, the domus academy in milan, the university of western australia in perth, australia, the eesab in rennes, the ensci (les ateliers) in paris and the école de design nantes atlantique, france.
poulton has won numerous international design awards
including the chicago athenaeum “good design” award for 2022, seven french “etoile de l’observeur du design” prizes, twelve german red dot design awards, five “if” international forum design prizes, three french “janus de l’industrie” awards, two “recommendation premio compasso d’oro” and two “best of the best” red dot design awards.
wikipedia the full list.
poulton’s first major solo exhibition “design by neil poulton” was held in the glyptotheque museum in zagreb, croatia in 2013 – his “scopas” lamp for artemide was inaugurated into the 1st permanent collection of v & a dundee, scotland in 2018.
poulton has also been a judge of international design competitions including the ’if’ design award, the apci observeur de design, the hong kong design award (hkda) and the muse design awards.
in 2019 poulton was inducted into the napier university alumni hall of fame in edinburgh, scotland, and in parallel, was named to “le fd100” – the 100 designers who are sharing french design all over the world.
poulton was inducted into the french “who’s who in france” in 2020.
neil poulton is a scottish designer who has lived and worked in paris, france since 1991.
lead photo by roman thomas for if forum.
black & white portrait by nicolas foucher.