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An Interview with Einar Hareide – the Person behind the AutoSock Design

AutoSock Interview Series “5 Questions”

After idea generation and prototyping, designing is the next step in the process of product development. In a systematic approach designing combines function, science, technology and art to create a product, people can use. How was the process of brainstorming and designing AutoSock? For the new part of our interview series "5 questions", we interviewed Einar Hareide, the main responsible person for the characteristic AutoSock design.

1. Who are you and how did you get in contact with AutoSock?
My name is Einar Hareide and I’m an industrial designer. I studied industrial design in Gothenburg, Sweden and studied automotive design in Detroit, USA. I worked for many years in the car business e.g., 12 years at Saab in Sweden, two years for Mercedes Benz in Germany and I’ve been involved in the car business in Detroit frequently. After many years in the car business, I started my own company Hareide Design in Moss, Norway in 1999. With the experience and knowledge from the car business, I thought this might be of value for companies in Norway that need support with industrial design. One day in 2001, Bård Løtveit called me and told me that he has an idea about a textile product as alternative to metallic snow chains. With the help of an early prototype, he explained me the principal function of the product and its used fabric.

2. How did you get the idea for the unique AutoSock design?
After getting a feeling for a product, we wanted to make it look premium and to give the product a strong identity. The product should be recognisable when it’s mounted on a car wheel, even from the distance. We were working with the colour schemes and decided for the orange cross in the middle of the product that makes AutoSock unique. At the same time that orange is the brand colour for AutoSock until today.

Einar Hareide Portrait


3. Can you describe the process of designing AutoSock after finding the idea?
First you need to understand the hard facts e.g., the product, the thinking behind, the potential customer and the market, so to speak the background knowledge for designing a new product. The next step is to make a function analysis to gain consensus about functional needs e.g., main function, back-up function and functions, we wish for and we don’t really need. We developed a design pyramid with functional values, design values and emotional values and started to make the product even more physical and good looking. It was very important that I worked closely together with Bård and AutoSock as part of design thinking. Then we worked roughly with the product prototypes and different materials. One starts with pen and paper and develops more and more details. At the same time, we worked closely together with the company responsible for branding and marketing of AutoSock back then. We tested how the product looks like for the customer in different situations and places.

4. What does it mean to you seeing your product design in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA)?
It’s fantastic that our design has been chosen for MoMA. It’s not my only product design presented in MoMA, but it was the first one and it is the only one still being part of the permanent collection. For a designer being presented in MoMA is great and kind of a “pop” moment.

AutoSock in Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New YorkCopyright: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York



5. What are you working on now and in future?
I’m working in my own company Hareide Design but with reduced working hours. After twenty years of running my own company with full-time product designing, I decided to do something different. Presently I’m working full-time at SINTEF in the manufacturing department where we work on topics like sustainability and production, here I help companies developing sustainable products. SINTEF is an independent research organization with more than 2000 employees that conducts contract research and development projects. I still take tasks and design work in my own company when the idea catches me and is interesting.

Spectrum of work Einar Hareide industrial designer


Read also our interview with Bård Løtveit, the inventor of snow socks.