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Home Appliance Design

The key to home appliance design

Six experts on the future of kitchens.

The designers of BSH brands have given some thought to the principles of their work, refrigerators and stoves in bright colors, perfect control knobs and the future of home appliance design. They have come up with smart answers to some rather tricky questions.

EB333 ©BSH Hausgeräte GmbH (Gaggenau)
In the eyes of our customers, a good design needs to immediately exceed their expectations and clearly convey what the appliance can do for them.
(Niko von Saurma, Regional, Tactical and OEM Brands)

The appliances should fit perfectly into their environment and be the ideal match for their kitchen. The design has to convey reliability, robustness, longevity and a unique aesthetic.
(Ralf Grobleben, Neff)

Real, perceptible and extraordinary materiality, a design that is clear, understated and reduced to the essentials, intuitive, simple but surprising to operate – and in spite of all the modern technology, the design has to give the product soul.
(Sven Baacke, Gaggenau)

Mixer ©BSH Hausgeräte GmbH (Consumer Products)
No – these days, we prefer to say “form follows human needs”. (Helmut Kaiser, Consumer Products)

For Siemens home appliances, this claim still applies without reservation. However, this principle has long since ceased to exist as a stand-alone criterion. Now more than ever, it is important to give the brand its own identity. The distinctive design of Siemens home appliances is clear and minimalist, and creates a superior look. We create new trends that set new standards in the industry. It is no coincidence that the Siemens design is often copied. (Gerhard Nüssler, Siemens)

These days, I would rather call it a symbiosis of form and function. And with the Gaggenau design in particular, I would express it as a symbiosis of tradition and avant-garde. It is ahead of its time while at the same time remaining faithful to its essence. (Sven Baacke, Gaggenau)

The principle is partly correct, because many decisions are not only dependent on functions, but also on factors such as emotions, brand loyalty and compatibility with the aesthetic environment. We need to offer a comprehensible, consistent, target-group-specific design language that represents a perceptible customer benefit: “form follows perceivable value”. (Niko von Saurma, Regional, Tactical and OEM Brands)

TwistPad ©BSH Hausgeräte GmbH (Neff)
In addition to their actual function, control elements are also key elements of our design language. With the iconic control ring of the new generation of appliances, we proverbially reinvented the wheel. It is a symbol of simplicity and thereby conveys trust. (Robert Sachon, Bosch)

The consumer must find it “self-evident” and easy to use. The size and design of the perfect control knob depends on where it is situated on the appliance. If we can also find a way to give it a playful component, such as with the Neff TwistPad, then we have satisfied our demands. (Ralf Grobleben, Neff)

Calling it a “knob” was premature. Product interaction has changed dramatically in recent years, especially with the arrival of smartphones. Dynamic content makes it much easier to interpret functions and adapt them to the situation. It is important to be able to operate each appliance spontaneously, intuitively and without having to consult a manual. My three-year-old daughter can find the photo folder on an iPhone easily and browse through photos. I believe that in this regard, we are only just entering a new world of home appliances. (Niko von Saurma, Regional, Tactical and OEM Brands)

Gaggenau ©BSH Hausgeräte GmbH (Gaggenau)
White in all its tonal gradations still plays a decisive role in the choice of kitchen fronts. This makes it hard to add white home appliances into the mix. We cannot reproduce this color diversity. With home appliances, you see more and more black incorporated instead of stainless steel, such as in glass fronts. In addition to stone and concrete, we will in future see entirely new materials in the world of home appliances. Ceramics and black steel are just the beginning. (Gerhard Nüssler, Siemens)

Colors come and go and reflect current lifestyle trends. White is still the evergreen choice, albeit often in a somewhat tinted variant. Since the kitchen is fusing more and more with the living space, warmer colors and real materials are playing an increasingly important role. (Sven Baacke, Gaggenau)

With space constraints a common fact of life, kitchens are becoming part of our living space. As a result, their design and coloring are gaining prominence. The choice of materials also plays an important role. Authentic and high-quality materials such as wood, metal and glass are currently on trend. (Helmut Kaiser, Consumer Products)

Ikon RIng ©BSH Hausgeräte GmbH (Bosch)
Society is constantly changing. In line with this, home appliances and their application are subjected to different and new requirements. Changing habitats and preparing food from all over the world have a significant impact on home appliances and their design. (Helmut Kaiser, Consumer Products)

Our appliances outlive short-term fashions and trends. The trick is thus to not only distinguish between short and long-term trends, but to consciously set trends. (Robert Sachon, Bosch)

This definitely varies from brand to brand. The design of Siemens home appliances is influenced by long-lasting trends. Our claim and our approach do not allow us to emulate short-lived, fashionable trends. Our design has (always?) been oriented toward long-term developments and sustainable innovations. We want our customers to own a product that is visually modern even after ten years. (Gerhard Nüssler, Siemens)

Washing machine ©BSH Hausgeräte GmbH (Constructa)
Brand loyalty seems to be less pronounced in home appliances than in other consumer products. The most important thing is that the consumer can perceive and experience a holistic, coherent and credible brand concept. What our consumers are willing to pay also depends strongly on whether they consider our brands to offer meaningful added value beyond mere technical comparability. And this is where design plays a vital role in also packaging this added value appropriately. (Niko von Saurma, Regional, Tactical and OEM Brands)

As a multi-brand company, differentiation is the guarantee for the sustained success of our brands. (Robert Sachon, Bosch)

The design is the part of the brand that is experienced on a daily basis. It is elementary and decisive in giving the brand an identity. Brand-specific design is not just restricted to the shell, it extends to our interaction with the appliances. We look at the entire kitchen and develop a coherent narrative for our target group. (Ralf Grobleben, Neff)

Siemens ©BSH Hausgeräte GmbH (Siemens)
Design plays a decisive role when it comes to finding a balance between technical feasibility and meaningfulness. Connectivity does not mean offering more and more, it means providing the essentials at the right moment. (Robert Sachon, Bosch)

Appliances are becoming more intelligent with more complex functional content. In order to make these processes transparent, communication between the user and the appliance is becoming increasingly important. Developing intuitive and intelligent operating concepts for this purpose is an elementary component of product design. (Helmut Kaiser, Consumer Products)

Future kitchen ©BSH Hausgeräte GmbH (Siemens)
I believe the basic structure of the kitchen and the archetypal home appliances will not have changed significantly. What will be different is the design of the appliances, our interaction with them, the technologies and the materials. However, you will still be able to clearly identify a Siemens home appliance as a Siemens. (Gerhard Nüssler, Siemens)

Could the kitchen perhaps be completely integrated into the living room by then, with appliances and technology completely invisible? Will fresh food be a real luxury and need some kind of special storage? Will apartments, and thus kitchens and kitchen appliances, be even smaller and more optimized in large conurbations? I do believe that in twenty years the kitchen will still be the heart of the house and we will continue to gather around the proverbial fire – even though it may be a digital one... (Sven Baacke, Gaggenau)

The kitchen will remain the heart, the center, the meeting place in the house where we love to spend time. Old and new things will naturally coexist – the app, the personal assistant in the cloud and Granny’s pot in which she always conjured up these wonderful dishes. (Ralf Grobleben, Neff)

Top photo: ©iStock

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