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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hannu Pirskanen - One of the world's great UI designers dies suddenly

One of the greatest UI designers Hannu Pirskanen died suddenly last week-end in his hometown Oulu in Finland. Hannu was the chief designer in the early phase of Series 60 and in many ways the Chief UI designer of the 6110 UI.

Hannu was not known to the outside world, but his designs have touched more than 1/6 of the human population so if you ever used a Nokia it had a small part of Hannu in it. At Nokia he was respected for his ability to simplify incredible complexity.

Hannu was a brilliant mix of bulldozer and team player. He managed to get the best out of people by showing incredible dedication to perfecting things. I learned many things about UI from him and we iterated, debated, created and argued allways in good spirit, always thinking of the user. He loved the Nokia users.

I just wanted to thank you. You will live in my memories and your work in the pockets of the human population.



05:18 PM | Permalink

Comments

Hear hear! I think he was the guy behind the UI of 8110 "banana", the first pixel rather than segment based LCD UI for phones ever. With warm memories...

Posted by: Panu at Sep 22, 2009 11:40:49 PM

It was nice to read this. I am Hannu`s brother. He has never talked anything about his jobs for me other relatives.

Pasi

Posted by: Pasi Pirskanen at Sep 23, 2009 2:36:54 PM

I was a junior designer who worked with Hannu in the 1990s in Jack and Averell. He was living and breathing UI design as true creative problem solving.

My six-year old daughter is today using a Jack phone, and sometimes when you pick up a taxi you can still see a 6310, the epitome of a well-designed mobile user interface.

Thanks Hannu for everything, on behalf of us all. You showed us the way.

Posted by: Harri at Sep 23, 2009 9:54:04 PM

I've had pleasure to work with Hannu in some projects a few years ago. I loved the way how Hannu handled both user tests and his colleagues with good sense of humor. Thank you.

"If you like a man's laugh before you know anything of him, you may say with confidence that he is a good man."
Dostoevsky

Posted by: Saija at Sep 24, 2009 12:02:13 AM

I had the privilege to work closely together with Hannu during my first 4 Nokia years in 1994-1997.
During that time UI for both Nokia 8110 (“banana phone”) and 6110 was created.

It was pleasure to work with Hannu. He took UI very seriously and was real expert on that.
At same time he was always easy to approach, open, calm and there was good part of humor included in discussions.
Doing something in “panic mode” was never the case with Hannu - and that was so great in the middle of the tough deadlines.

Hannu was the one who changed my mindset from “just writing sw” to “creating great ui via writing sw”. Having this mindset has helped me a lot during my work career.

Thank you Hannu!

Posted by: Mikko at Sep 24, 2009 9:22:28 AM

I admired his work on creating not only useful and intuitive interface but simple yet very beautiful UI designs that made Nokia popular. I remember the 84x48 lcd first used in nokia 6110 and i was very admired at how such a low resolution display was made very useful by him.

Posted by: John User at Sep 24, 2009 9:33:40 AM

Hannu was one of the early dudes who built the whole concept of phone into what it now is. Remember in 1990's they were hardly consumer products nor particularly fun or easy to use.

But it was not just the series 40s or 60s or communicators of the world that Hannu impacted on. There is a whole generation of us younger generation Nokians who got their lessons through coaching and hands-on education into the world of mobility, usability, human-technology interaction from this man.

Missing you Hannu!

As you Christian say, a sizeable proportion of population in this planet have used or are using something designed by this man. It is not often that you can say something like that about one person - of whom most did not ever hear from.

Posted by: topi at Sep 24, 2009 1:24:43 PM

Pasi, I am not surprised that family and relatives were not aware of Hannu's role in Nokias design, I do not think he himself was very aware of that. He just did his work, but did it passionately. Like the other colleagues have pointed here, this had impact on all of us that worked with him. He was also humble in front of users- and that impressed me, when I joined Nokia. We have lost a good colleague, but you, the family members have lost even more.

Posted by: Anne K. at Sep 24, 2009 2:33:12 PM

I am writing this on behalf of 100+ Hannu's old colleagues around the world. I have had the sad privilege to pass the sad news to people who worked closely with Hannu. We are all equally devastated. For the past week I have been crying on the phone.

We all miss Hannu's wits and Savonian attitude which always was visible in everything he did. I had the opportunity to witness it for almost 20 years, not only at work but during numerous floorball matches and tournaments. No matter how difficult a situation, there always was a seemingly effortless surprising solution available.

Hannu was one of the few persons who mastered the art of speaking "between the lines". I am sure it may have puzzled some, but the ones who cared to listen and think, made them realize what is important and made them both better designers and better people.

It was a sunny summer day when I saw Hannu the last time and he was planning to enjoy the day at the lake. Sunny and peaceful will also be our memories of Hannu forever.

Posted by: TTT at Sep 24, 2009 10:04:42 PM

Hannu recruited me to Nokia and I remember him as a person who always had time for a chat when I needed his support. If he wanted to give me negative feedback, he always did that gently with his sense of humor.

Posted by: Jani at Sep 25, 2009 11:32:27 PM

Kummityttäresi iltarukouksesta:

"Päivän touhut taakse jää,
minua jo väsyttää.
Kiitos,että nukkumaan
peiton alle mennä saan.
Hyvää yötä Jumala!
Siunaa meitä kaikkia.
-Sohvi-

Voimia kaikille Hannun läheisille!

Posted by: ullamaija pyykkönen at Sep 27, 2009 9:45:39 AM

I am sorry about his loss... I never had the pleasure of working with him but I admire his work as I have dealt with his UI's for a long time and know very well who he was. I had no idea that he died until I read this post. Thanks for sharing this sad news, descanse en paz.

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We all miss Hannu's wits and Savonian attitude which always was visible in everything he did. I had the opportunity to witness it for almost 20 years, not only at work but during numerous floorball matches and tournaments. No matter how difficult a situation, there always was a seemingly effortless surprising solution available.

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It was pleasure to work with Hannu. He took UI very seriously and was real expert on that.
At same time he was always easy to approach, open, calm and there was good part of humor included in discussions.
Doing something in “panic mode” was never the case with Hannu - and that was so great in the middle of the tough deadlines.

Hannu was the one who changed my mindset from “just writing sw” to “creating great ui via writing sw”. Having this mindset has helped me a lot during my work career. buy kamagra online

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