i4 Product Design’s Managing Director, Ryan Fenton, has spent his career designing products – the majority of this in the provision of expert product design consultancy services. He’s an experienced leader of multi-disciplinary design teams that reliably deliver on product concept visions.
A PhD qualified engineer, Ryan spent the first 10 years of his career at a London based design consultancy where he worked as a design engineer, and then project manager, before becoming a director of that company.
In later years, Ryan was the Design Director for a medical device company, before returning to client work and founding a Belfast based consultancy in 2019.
After joining i4 Product Design as Managing Director in 2023, Ryan brought fresh ideas and new tools to help to deliver client projects faster and more effectively.
What is your approach to design?
“I think you need to have a clear understanding of any problem before you can solve it. To design great products, that understanding of the problem is essential. It’s often about asking the right questions and then you can start to prioritise the challenges. Tackling the biggest ones first helps to strip out project risk early.”
“I always enjoy the tricky ones, where genuine innovation is needed to solve the problem. This doesn’t have to mean entirely new designs, but instead it’s the new ideas and approaches that are the innovative step. It doesn’t matter if it’s performance improvements, new manufacturing techniques or improvements to user experience… whatever the focus, it’s about taking things to a new level for clients… giving them something they can’t get elsewhere. That’s the beauty of consultancy teams – they have all this experience from different projects, different industries, different user groups… and they can leverage that to deliver better solutions for client. It’s great to be surrounded by all this experience and knowledge.”
What are your three favourite designed products?
“My favourite products are the ones that solve my perennial problems. I’ve got a Tile fob on my keys (it’s a lower cost equivalent of Apple Air Tag) and it’s a favourite in that respect. It helps me find my keys, wallet or phone by playing a ring tone on the device –great when you’re in a rush.
Number two would be Lego. They just got it right first time with that brick moulding and continue to be a construction toy favourite for kids (and some adults) 60 years later. I’d like to see less Lego being manufactured each year though; never throw your old bricks in the bin folks.
Number three; I’m hesitant to say it, because I know it’s one that evokes some strong opinions, but Apple really are very good at product design. If we can put aside for a moment all the valid reasons that I shouldn’t be an Apple advocate, and just talk about their level of attention to detail, it’s magnificent really… in my opinion.”
What interests you?
“I get interested by new things all the time – I’m a curious person.
Things that have remained constant interested over the years? I like watching the BBC snooker coverage (laughs). I play snooker too sometimes but I’m rubbish. Think my high break is in the mid-thirties.
I love animals, love walking my dog, love being outside. Going to gigs… though that doesn’t happen much these days. Love meeting new people and having interesting conversations.
Solving problems is an everyday interest for me… and if I can’t help directly, then it’s all about connecting the right people.”
"I have a ‘can do’ attitude and strongly believes that anything should be possible."