Exhibitor interview with product designer: Simon Bradford, vice-president design, Europe from AEG
Q: Where do you mainly get your inspiration for new products?
A: What normally kick-starts our design process is when we identify an upcoming trend, either within our industry or from another industry.
Developing appliances with a finish that’s in line with the materials being used by kitchen manufacturers allows for seamless integration – the overall design that consumers are looking for today.
A great example of how the design process works – from concept to the launch of a final product – is the new matt black range that we will be showcasing at the kbb show next month.
We’d identified a lot of matt finishes coming through and that’s where the inspiration for this collection came from in order to offer designers appliances that would blend in with matt finishes throughout the kitchen. Also, dark, moody hues are back and this range meets that demand, too.
Q: It obviously has to look good, but essentially the main requirement of an appliance is functionality. Where does this factor into the design process?
A: Understanding consumer needs in relation to the functionality of an appliance is obviously a huge part of our role as appliance designers and it’s an aspect of the design process that we focus on from the very beginning. What you’re talking about here is basic consumer experience.
The start of any design process for us begins with under-standing the main points that a consumer goes through when preparing a meal, in order for us to come up with a solution to their journey. We get to the heart of that by visiting people’s homes and finding out how they shop, how they preserve that food, how they cook, etc.
Q: Is technology changing the way you work?
A: The developments in technology have changed how designers work immensely. Connectivity is probably the most identifiable development that’s had a huge impact on design. This technology is changing people’s behaviours and, therefore, what they’re looking for from their appliances. The challenge we have in this area is trying to identify what elements of this new technology is of benefit to consumers. That takes us right back to the beginning of our design process – where everything we do starts with the consumer.
Q: Where are we at in terms of creativity in the appliance sector do you think? Have we already reached the peak or are you just getting started?
A: In the appliance world, we’re really just scratching the surface of creativity, which makes it a really exciting area of design to be in at the moment.
I believe technology and sustainability will play a big role in designs of the future – these things are going to radically change this category. The idea of changing people’s behaviours through design is really powerful.