Field Trip to Harvey Norman

The trip to Harvey Norman exposed me to many different designs and made me aware of the current trends in product designs. In this post, I’d like to discuss and share about what I got from the field trip. 🙂

Two products with emotion factor:

The first product that caught my eye when we walked in was the bread toaster from SMEG. It was then that I realised that the different household products from SMEG had the same characteristics, although they were products of different function. For example, the toaster and the mixer came in colours that were pastel and lighthearted. There is a curvilinear flow to the form, and it makes the products look playful and fun. The knobs and buttons on the products make them similar to products from the 50s, and in other words, retro.

Compared to products that are more rectangular, with sharper edges, products from SMEG make working in the kitchen look ‘fun’ and ‘enjoyable’, which is clearly an emotion-dominant factor.

Two products with similar trends:

If you compare the Tefal handheld vacuum cleaner (left) and the Novita SleekLite Handstick vacuum cleaner (right), you would have realised that both vacuum cleaner have moved away from the old trend and they are now being kept and used vertically upright. This makes cleaning much easier as the user no longer need to bend down when cleaning. This also saves space for storage as the form of these vacuum cleaners are slim and are no longer bulky.

However there are a few differences between the two. The Tefal handheld vacuum cleaner has a triangular base, with makes cleaning the corners and areas that are hard to clean, much easier. A new technology of separating air and dust makes the vacuum cleaner long lasting. The form and aesthetics of the vacuum cleaner is focused on the parts and technology that are inside the vacuum, which means that the form follows the shape of the parts in the vacuum cleaner.

However, the Novita SleekLite Handstick vacuum cleaner focuses more on its aesthetics as it looks more ‘sleek’ and ‘friendly’, similar to products from SMEG. It also comes in colours that are bright and casual, as compared to the Tefal handheld vacuum cleaner which comes in darker shades of blue and purple, and black. The form of the Novita vacuum cleaner is also more simplified as it only consists of a long handle, cylindrical shaped body and a rectangular base. Although the nozzle is able to rotate 180 degrees, it does not allow the user to reach hard to assess areas as well as the Tefal handheld vacuum which has a triangular base.

Even though both the Tefal handheld vacuum cleaner and the Novita SleekLite Handstick vacuum cleaner have jumped on the bandwagon of vertical vacuum cleaners, they clearly are made with different aesthetics and form factors in mind. The Tefal handheld vacuum cleaner is function dominant, whereas the Novita SleekLite Handstick vacuum cleaner is emotion-dominant.

Giving ‘Form’ to a Product

In Lecture 2 we learned that there are 3 nodes that influence the aesthetics or forms of product designs- function, human factors and emotion.

To help illustrate this, I have found 3 product designs that have a dominance of each of the factors.

The Sweeper & Dustpan by Jan Kochanski is an example of a function-dominant product. It is a simple and easy to use product, as it is more convenient for users to empty the dustpan by using the dustpan handle as a funnel. The handle of the sweeper also fits perfectly into the handle of the dustpan, which allows the product to be kept neatly and at the same time minimise the space used to keep it.

A ‘smart’ spoon has been designed by LiftLabs, a San Francisco based company and this is one example of a human factor-dominant product. It was made solely for patients with Parkinson’s disease, and it has a function in the spoon to counter the vibrating motion of the patient’s hands when they are eating.

Lastly, Cacti Coasters by Clive Roddy is an example of an emotion-dominant product. Although one creative way to store the coasters is by interlocking and stacking them up, its purpose is only for cups to rest on it, and prevent your tables from getting dirty. However this fun and interactive way of keeping them brings out curiosity in the user, therefore it is an emotion-dominant product.

Naoto Fukasawa: An Industrial Designer

Naoto Fukasawa

A Japanese industrial designer, his designs are simple, easy to use and minimalistic, much like how I believe that good products should be. Some of his many notable designs include kitchen appliances (specifically toaster, kettle, rice cooker and CD player) for Muji, a Japanese retail company.

One of his Muji designs that I like is the kettle.

The shape of his kettle is simple and rounded, and it is both easy to use and convenient. It is designed to be able to coil and keep the electrical wire under the base of the kettle and you’re able to use the plug by just simply pulling the wire without the trouble of uncoiling the wire.