Fred Bould

The most popular design firm you've never heard of

October 30, 2013: 1:12 PM ET

He may not have the celebrity of Jony Ive, but when it comes to design, the tech world knows to seek out Fred Bould.

FORTUNE -- Fred Bould is far from a household name, but his small industrial design firm is behind some of the hottest gadgets currently on the market. You'd never guess it by visiting Bould Design's offices -- the small team works out of a nondescript building right off of Highway 101 in Mountain View, Calif., nestled among auto body shops and burrito joints. But over the past few years, the firm has helped craft popular devices like the Roku 2 streaming player and GoPro's most recent wearable video camera, used to shoot extreme sports. Bould won't confirm, but his firm is also rumored to have helped develop the design for the Nest thermostat and smoke alarm (the thermostat is featured prominently on the company's website).

Bould Design has won a number of industry-specific awards in recent years but is still relatively unknown in more mainstream circles. That clearly hasn't stopped the soft-spoken designer from attracting some of the Valley's sexiest hardware makers. "They hear about us by word of mouth," he says. Here's a sample of some of Bould's most recent designs:

Lively:  This new, simplistic device is targeted at seniors (the system includes wireless sensors that attach to pillboxes and automatically notify relatives when grandma or grandpa forget to take their medication).

Lively:
This new, simplistic device is targeted at seniors (the system includes wireless sensors that attach to pillboxes and automatically notify relatives when grandma or grandpa forget to take their medication).

 Roku 2:  Bould designed this sleek set top box and accompanying remote control, used for streaming movies and shows straight to television sets.


Roku 2:
Bould designed this sleek set top box and accompanying remote control, used for streaming movies and shows straight to television sets.

Nest Protect: Nest's new smoke alarm has transformed the lowly home device. (Bould declined to confirm his involvement with its design, but the smart smoke detector is featured on his firm's Facebook page).

Nest Protect:
Nest's new smoke alarm has transformed the lowly home device. (Bould declined to confirm his involvement with its design, but the smart smoke detector is featured on his firm's Facebook page).

GoPro Hero3: The rectangular, waterproof video camera features a wide-angle lens and can be mounted on a helmet or bike handlebars.

GoPro Hero3:
The rectangular, waterproof video camera features a wide-angle lens and can be mounted on a helmet or bike handlebars.

Logitech Squeezebox Radio:  While it failed to make a significant dent in the digital music world, this Wi-Fi radio earned rave reviews for its external design.

Logitech Squeezebox Radio:
While it failed to make a significant dent in the digital music world, this Wi-Fi radio earned rave reviews for its external design.

Nambé Twist Cocktail Shaker:  Bould dabbles in the non-techie world too. This helix-shaped martini shaker, designed for metal housewares maker Nambe, was once used as a prop on the television show Entourage.

Nambé Twist Cocktail Shaker:
Bould dabbles in the non-techie world too. This helix-shaped martini shaker, designed for metal housewares maker Nambe, was once used as a prop on the television show Entourage.

(Photos courtesy of Bould Design; Nest photo is courtesy of Nest)

Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by WordPress.com VIP.