Hidden: When the Product Speaks for Itself

Vitor Santa Maria and John Van Den Nieuwenhuizen are the exponents of an intuitive design that brings innovation with simplicity in people's lives

How many of us have often thought that design rhymes with beauty and high costs rather than functionality? And how often happens that the name of a brand on the label directs the choice of the consumer towards a product over another, bypassing the competition simply in the name of fame that revolves around it?

In this respect, that of Vitor Santa Maria and John Van Den Nieuwenhuizen is the story of two designers, who met in Milan 12 years ago, while working for Motorola, who have decided together to implement a personal revolution not only in their career - no longer working for a company and starting their own start-up - but also in the same way of thinking about the design and how creativity can be put to its service.

“Having a winning idea is great and definitely helps, but the idea alone can take you only so far because you need to learn how to master many other disciplines and love learning new things”

Both of them with many years of experience as consultants/designers for global companies, where opportunities for learning and experimentation are certainly more than in a design consultancy firm, at some point they gained the will to launch their own brand, knowing that the great advantages of the creative freedom, control and decision-making autonomy would have joined the risks and responsibilities that a full cycle of production entails. Having in mind many ideas is not enough to achieve an entrepreneurial success: careful planning, knowledge of the rules of the market and the different sectors is essential (marketing, logistics, accounting, distribution) just like both confirm:

“Having a winning idea is great and definitely helps, but the idea alone can take you only so far because you need to learn how to master many other disciplines and love learning new things”.

Then, over a year ago, their brand - called Hidden – was born: the headquarters is in San Francisco but it counts on a network of engineers and developers all over the world. In fact, the two co-founders work remotely in the sense that Vitor Santa Maria is in Europe, having moved many years ago in Milan, while Van Den Nieuwenhuizen is based in the US.

This aspect, however, does not affect in any way the organization of work: they collaborate on the core design aspects and work very closely on these meanwhile, with other parts of the business, they divided those up based on their own strengths and experiences. Being constantly in contact and maintaining tight communication they show that a flexible way of working can cancel totally the problem of geographical distance. The choice of the name Hidden, which is supported by the slogan “where the product is the brand and the brand is the product” was linked to the precise awareness to provide a new perspective of design, characterized by anonymity, quality and functionality:

“Our company name, HIDDEN, stands for something we firmly believe in: some of the best products are anonymous. The design and the story our products have to tell are so unique and compelling that the brand recognition comes from looking at the product alone; it does not need a label to tell our customers this is our product”.

In confirmation of this, the product certainly more representative of designer duo: is the HiddenRadio: an AM /FM radio, Bluetooth speaker compatible with iPhone/ iPad and, doubtless, a magnificent piece of design.

“We wanted something that could give a big sound while being compact and protected at the same time. We wanted this speaker to have a compelling story and also be portable. So really it was heavily designed around our own needs and something we really wanted to own”.

An object, the HiddenRadio, that seems to respond comprehensively to the golden rule of functional design according to which a product has to solve a problem in the smallest possible space, in addition to what the two designers define the first fundamental question that all those of their sector should ask themselves and that is "What is the value I am bringing to the world with this product?"

"A great design is wonderful but you need to have a good strategy that allows it to get in front of the right consumers"

The more interesting moment is the way this product was launched: Kickstarter, participatory platform for the collection of funds. Put the object in preorder, it has been a great consensus that has allowed them to start production, confirming the existence of a new entrepreneurship that, thanks to innovative online tools, may give the opportunity to test an idea, a product on the market rather than sell it to the individual investor, limiting so the classic risks of a start-up.

Among the next objectives of Hidden is making the existing product even better and working hard on the distribution in order to ensure a permanent presence on the market, rather than be a meteor.

“Challenge has been learning and managing distribution channels. A great design is wonderful but you need to have a good strategy that allows it to get in front of the right consumers. You then need to train, educate and control each of these channels to ensure they are helping your business in the long term and not just providing a quick sale avenue”.

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24 Jul, 2013 KOs
really cool
23 Jul, 2013 Jeremy
IT's so beautiful I just showed it to my wife and she is amazed looking to buy to red one. WE are not sure what is the loudness. Can someone tell us how loud is it?