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A day in the life: Simon Browning, Industrial Design Director

Mira Inspired
Friday 5th August 2016

Part of our Mira Community section sees us sit down with different members of Mira Showers and in this post we bring you all the insights from our Industrial Design Director, Simon Browning.

Simon joined Mira Showers in 2009 having spent 15 years working for a variety of agencies spanning across all sorts of consumer and commercial sectors from around the world. Simon is responsible for the executive leadership of Industrial Design and has overseen the evolution of design thinking, process and practice since joining the business.

When did you join Mira Showers?
I got the job having spent 15 years of my career working for a number of agencies in and around London. I was very fortunate to work on projects that spanned all sorts of consumer and commercial sectors around the world. I even ran my own agency for a couple of years which opened my eyes up to the harsh reality of time equating to money! To be honest, I reached the point before joining Kohler Mira where I was in and out of other businesses trying to help them find solutions to problems that I knew I couldn’t fully relate to, having never worked in that environment myself. My position at Mira Showers was my first role within a manufacturing business.

How long have you been with Mira Showers?
I have worked at Mira Showers for 6 ½ years, which have absolutely flown by. There have been all sorts of highs and lows in that time but I’ve really enjoyed the journey to this point and I’m still learning, which is important to me. There’s so much opportunity for design here and my passion for improvement is stronger than ever. That said, the years are definitely going by faster!

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Describe your working day?
My typical day is not always that predictable to be honest. You’ll find me in the design studio in Cheltenham most days or at our satellite office in London depending on what is rising to the top of my priority list that week. As we continue to bind design stories into our brand communications I am also enjoying being part of the creative process in our media campaigns – doing voiceovers for our brand films has been a new kind of challenge that has also been a lot of fun! The challenges for me are always about balancing near term business considerations with big picture design direction which means lots of talking, thinking and doing with different teams to ensure we are building towards a meaningful future. Because design tends to touch so many areas of the business, there is a lot of variety in what I need to get involved with.

Work challenges?
The most challenging aspect are the senior responsibilities that my role includes, which means I am sometimes pulled away from most of the hands on stuff. The nature of a designer is to conceive, shape and refine ideas – which I now do in the form of post-it note scribbles, doodles and notes that end up all over the studios. I am passionate about design and being paid to do something you are passionate about is a real privilege, I think. One of the most important things a design studio can do for its business is to provide a flow of ideas and thoughts that challenge convention and help to develop the longer term vision. Finding the time and the focus to do this while delivering all of the near term projects is difficult, but essential.

Your favourite part of the job?
My favourite part of the job has to be the great group of people working with me and the days that I spend working with them to figure out problems, build design directions and sweat the details, are the days I go home with more energy than I arrived with.

Proudest moment at work?
My proudest moment must be the creation of the Mira Aspects tap collection as it contains a lot of good design thinking and was executed to a high level of quality. I wouldn’t call any of the designs produced in this role ‘mine’ – each is the result of collaborative effort across the design teams. Also we won a global award for design excellence that I can’t help but be proud of too, as it is as high an external endorsement as we are ever going to get!

Why did you want to work for Mira Showers?
I joined Mira Showers when I saw an opportunity to work for a great brand that hadn’t yet realised its full potential in terms of a delivering market-leading design and user experience. I have always admired the work of Dieter Rams (who built the design legacy at Braun over 30 years) and Kenneth Grange (who did a similar job for Kenwood and others) and was really excited by the opportunity to do something similar here. It isn’t an objective that can be achieved overnight and it is something we are still building towards – but I love the idea of being in a position where our brand is admired for design and being able to look back at the how the story unfolded.

A product you couldn't live without?
The product I couldn’t live without must be my Apple gear, particularly my iPhone. It’s amazing how much we now take these things for granted – the technology and behaviours have become so embedded in our lives now. In my case, I’ve discovered that my iPhone is a pretty invaluable sidekick when managing a baby. I couldn’t be without the Sound Sleeper app or round the clock access to the ‘Baby Jake’ back catalogue – it’s nothing short of miraculous.

Which department would you like to hear A Day in the Life of next?
Get in touch via our Facebook page or tweet us @mirashowers and we will get back to you.