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What I’ve Learnt: Nathan Partington, Design Director, npd Studio

Nathan Partington

Nathan Partington has worked in the product design world for over a decade.

He launched product design consultancy npd Studio in 2014, which now works with a range of brands across two offices in Manchester and London.

The agency claims to be “different to most design agencies” by aiming to “only work on projects that will do good”. npd Studio recently teamed up with lone worker app Safepoint to create Callie, a personal safety bracelet that can ping out an exact GPS location to emergency services if the user is in danger.

Whether it’s his best failures, lucky breaks or the advice he’d offer his 21-year-old-self, Partington shares all the lessons he’s learnt below.

Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

I take the dogs out each morning, we’re fortunate to live close to a beach and the fresh air and sometimes rain really helps to clear my head and get ready for the day.

What’s been your luckiest break?

We got to collaborate with AstraZeneca throughout the pandemic that really helped us through what was a difficult trading period for a lot of companies. It was a chance to work on something that really made a difference too given the context of the project.

What’s your best failure?

Over the years we’ve done a lot of work for free. There are some products that just need to exist so that they can go on to do good in the world. Thinair.life is one of those and is now helping hundreds of people around the world with chronic pain and illnesses. Whilst we essentially made a loss on the project, it was worth it and the product has since aided in my sister have two successful rounds of IVF.

What is the best investment you’ve ever made, either financial or time?

I’ve never regretted investing in myself and have collaborated with a few mentors and coaches over the last few years. From a business point of view we invested into one of our client’s businesses last year that is now growing fast and making a positive impact on the welfare and health and safety of UK construction sites. That business is Site Pod and we continue to develop new products for them to contribute to it’s success.

Which podcast or book would you recommend others to read and why?

I love the honesty on the guests of the High Performance Podcast with Jake Humfries. It’s sometimes easy to think that successful people have it easy but quite often their sucess is a result of years of struggle and setbacks.

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Invest in assets to pay for your liabilities and you’ll never have to worry about money.

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

I work alongside my wife at both businesses we operate, we compliment each other well and it works for us to juggle our time with our children and dogs. It’s not easy to run multiple business whilst also raising a young family and as a result of working together we better appreciate each others workload and how to better support the other.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I come from a large family and have 36 cousins!

If there was one thing you could change about your career, what would it be and why?

I had the chance to go and work in South Korea as part of a scheme with Samsung but I turned it down to continue working in the UK. I don’t truly regret it though as if I had gone I wouldn’t now be happily married with two amazing children.

What does success look like to you?

Knowing that the team are happy generally means we’re doing things right from a workload and business point of view. We have a big focus on happiness over profit as we’ve all worked in places where the balance wasn’t right.

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