Ultra Design & Strategy is a Finnish agency where clear strategic thinking meets solid design execution. The team at Ultra is not afraid to challenge conventions, and they are all about the bigger picture and providing clarity to all projects, from a systems level to the tiniest details.

The Helsinki-based firm has a combined experience of over 40 years in the automotive industry and strategy. Having worked with companies such as Tesla, Lexus, Toyota and SpaceX, the team have been able to utilise and apply their knowledge at Ultra. “All three of us Ultra founders are from relatively small towns. We have a lot of common sense, as well as limitless levels of ambition,” says Jarno Lehtinen, partner and CEO at Ultra.

Ultra Design & Strategy: Connecting the dots through design

Polestar KOJA treehouse from
inside. Photo: Polestar

Since its beginning in 2017, Ultra’s team has grown into a team of 11 people. Some of their clients include one of Finland’s oldest companies Fiskars, modern office-environment pioneer Framery, a US-based autonomous drone maker Skydio, and Running Tide. “We do not shy away from challenges, and we feel that is where our skills are best put to use,” says Joonas Vartola, partner and head of design.

Recently, Ultra started working with Maine-based ocean health company Running Tide. They rebalance the carbon cycle and move fast carbon back to the slow cycle in the oceans by data-based multi-pathway systems. “We work with them to create a novel design language and concepts that help create trust with stakeholders. It’s a new industry and the design language does not exist yet,” Vartola explains.

Ultra Design & Strategy: Connecting the dots through design

Framery One.

Helping companies achieve global ambitions

Ultra Design & Strategy have experience in working for large global companies, as well as smaller local ones. The common denominator with all their clients is the highest level of ambition. “We believe that even small companies’ ambition level can be world-class, and we want to help them achieve that,” he adds.

Recently, Ultra has worked with Framery, which began as a small-scale company that developed the world’s first connected soundproof pod. Initially, the pods were not made for mass production. They were very time-consuming and heavy to assemble, and the ergonomics of the product, as well as the materials, needed an overhaul. Ultra’s main role was coming up with a concept, followed by the entire research and development process right up to the final product.

Ultra Design & Strategy: Connecting the dots through design

Yacht concept – Electric yacht.

Turning novel ideas into reality

At times, solutions can come from surprising places. This was also the case with Polestar KOJA, a treehouse designed by Ultra team member Kristian Talvitie for the 2021 Polestar Design Contest. KOJA encourages people to think about sustainable local tourism, while bringing them closer to nature.

“The virtual concept design was so good that Polestar wanted to turn it into a real-life design and a full-scale treehouse. We are extremely proud of the fact that we are not just creating concepts – but turning them into reality,” says Olli Laaksonen, partner and head of business development.

Ultra Design & Strategy: Connecting the dots through design

Vehicle concept

According to Laaksonen, the world can sometimes feel fuzzy and muddled, and he believes that design is all about understanding the bigger picture, and finding a way to connect numerous small dots into something meaningful. “The world is changing faster than ever, and Ultra’s aim is to help clients to adjust and adapt to the new times and stay relevant and competitive,” he explains.

With each project, Ultra begins by establishing a thorough understanding of what their client is doing and why. Then, they define and design how they’ll achieve their goals in the best way possible. “We believe in the power of collaboration. We work alongside our clients’ business, design and engineering teams and uplift them and the services they provide, while maintaining a continuous dialogue with the team. A good concept is key, and it’s all about creating long-term future-proof solutions,” says Lehtinen.

Ultra Design & Strategy: Connecting the dots through design

Framery One prototyping.

A recent collaboration project was the Skydio 2 drone, which is the world’s most advanced consumer flying robot. Its six 4K navigation cameras can see everything in every direction with unprecedented clarity. Ultra continues to work closely with Skydio’s engineering teams and helps them with concepts and industrial design. “Skydio sets a new benchmark in autonomous aviation, and it exemplifies a true paradigm shift in drone flight,” he states.

“Technology has a huge role in our lives and in business. We believe it’s important to ensure that tech doesn’t lead our lives – but we make it work for us through seamless technology integration. We also often say that technological advances are only meaningful when we clearly define their purpose. And this is where we come in: we help brands to identify the point where high-quality product design and high demand meet,” Lehtinen concludes.

Ultra Design & Strategy: Connecting the dots through design

Skydio 2 drone.

Web: www.ultra.fi
Instagram: @ultra.fi
LinkedIn: Ultra Design & Strategy

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