Behind The Screens: Joe Hollier
THE SLOW TALKER
WHAT IS THE LIGHT PHONE?
The Light Phone is the only phone intentionally designed to be used as little as possible. Like how we have different shoes or jackets for different occasions, the Light Phone is your casual “second” phone that encourages you to leave behind the smartphone and all of its distractions.
WHAT GAP DOES THE LIGHT PHONE FILL?
Every company is fighting for our attention. We wanted to build not only the Light Phone but a radically different technology company that builds beautiful objects that empower us to be our best selves. There are, of course, other small or simple phones, but none of them have been positioned as "your phone away from phone.” Now we are starting to see some smartwatches that allow you to leave your phone, but what are those if not smaller smartphones ever more present on your wrists? No thanks.
WHAT SPURRED YOU TO CREATE THIS?
In September 2014, Google invited me to their inaugural design incubator. It was my first personal step into the technology world, having come from an art, design, and photography background. I was eager for my art to have a more tangible effect on the world at large, and this opportunity seemed like there was that potential.
We were encouraged to think of smartphone apps and taught how and why many other apps were being created. Quickly it became clear that these apps were not aligned with our quality of life, but were deeply rooted in supporting the business models around data collection and advertising. They were engineering these apps to use our vulnerabilities against us while pretending that they were "making the world a better place" through cheesy marketing.
If I were to make an app, it would be to get people off of these stupid phones! It was out of that thought the initial concept of "going light" and the Light Phone itself were born.
DO YOU THINK IT'S REALLY POSSIBLE TO DISCONNECT IN A WORLD THAT IS HYPER-CONNECTED?
I would say it is not only possible but essential! Many of the millions of excuses we might make for why we NEED to stay connected are often not true. We convince ourselves that we need these things – be it Instagram or the ability to check your email in line at a cafe – but when we disconnect it becomes clear that we don't need them, and in fact, our lives are often better without that noise. Multitasking is a myth. It is addictive and exhausting, and I think we are all becoming overwhelmed and craving that escape.
GIVE ME THE HIGH/LOW OF BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR.
The fact that my idea resonates with a global audience is very humbling, and it motivates me to keep pushing through the lows. The feeling of holding one of the first working Light Phones is one I will never forget.
I've always tended to be a do-it-all-myself kind of guy, but I have found myself over my head technically and relying on others many times, whether it’s our hardware and software teams or our lawyers. My day-to-day is a lot different than when I was just an artist, and oh boy email can be such a drag. There is a constant need to raise investment, and managing employees is new to me. We try our best to keep all of our customers happy, and when someone is disappointed, it hurts.
HOW CAN SOMEONE GET A LIGHT PHONE?
They are currently only available in very limited quantities on our website, lightphone.com.
A QUOTE THAT HELPED YOU BECOME WHO YOU ARE TODAY
A quote that immediately struck me, especially as it relates to why the Light Phone means so much to me is from Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” If we are spending our days always connected, staring at screens, craving more and more, that is how we will spend the rest of our lives. I think life can be so much more than a series of feeds and notifications.
Background, Context & Reference
Connect with Joe: Instagram
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