Electrolux has long been the leading manufacturer of high end kitchen appliances in Europe and this spring, a new collection of Electrolux appliances is about to change America’s kitchens with a strong influx of European style and performance. Appliancist discussed this new line and company philosophy with Mr. Bob Martin, Director of Design from Electrolux Major Appliances, who kindly shared several interesting insights.
What makes Electrolux different from other appliance manufacturers?
Speaking as an Industrial Designer, I see Electrolux being different from other appliance manufacturers in that we have a truly global design organization. The interaction we have between our design centers in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Latin America give new global perspectives to all of the products we design. We approach the design of our products from the perspective of the consumer and create a consistency across products for a unique consumer experience.
Electrolux has created an image of being one of the most innovative appliance manufacturers out there. How did you do it?
Electrolux has centers of excellence for each product category around the globe. At these centers, designers and engineers work on innovative, new ideas that eventually go into our new products. As an example, the Electrolux Cooking Technology Center in Rothenburg Germany, developed the Luxury-Glide Racks™ for our new Electrolux wall ovens, built-in ranges and free-standing ranges.
We design products based on consumer insight. We observe consumers interacting with our appliances on a daily basis in order to truly understand how they use each appliance. Consumers can highlight challenges and new possibilities with existing products, which is invaluable information. We try and turn these insights into the next series of innovative features for Electrolux products.
Are all of your products actually going to mass production or some are experimental only?
Electrolux is launching more than fifty new, high performance, stylish products (more than 100 products) including free standing and built-in dual fuel, gas and electric ranges, electric wall ovens, gas and electric cooktops, induction hybrid cooktops, microwaves, counter depth and standard depth refrigerators and freezers, refrigeration drawers, wine coolers and towers, beverage centers, dishwashers, ice makers, and ventilation systems. All of these products are going into mass production – none of them are experimental.
Electrolux has been designing so many interesting products lately, some even unusual. Where your design team draws the inspirations?
Our design teams draw inspiration from several areas including the automotive industry, consumer electronics products, housewares, architecture and kitchen design trends. Designers pull inspiration from the well-designed products in the world around us and our designers attend industry shows like the Detroit Auto Show, the Consumer Electronics Show, the International Builders Show, the Housewares Show and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show for inspiration. Our other global Industrial Design Centers send their designers to their regional shows and then we share trend reports on all of these industries with each other.
Consumers also provide inspiration to the Electrolux Industrial Design Team in the feedback they give us on the products we produce and test.
How Electrolux appliances are ‘green’ or eco-friendly? What Electrolux design team does to make their products conserve energy?
All of the new Electrolux products are Energy Star qualified, where applicable. They are at least 20% more energy efficient that non-Energy Star qualified products. Other new Electrolux products that are eco-friendly specific is the 24″ Fully Integrated Dishwasher that uses less than 4.4 gallons of water in the normal wash cycle. Our Induction Hybrid Cooktop boils water in 90 seconds, which is faster than conventional electric and gas cook tops which saves time and energy. All of our refrigerators have variable speed compressors that use less energy when there is less demand.
We are always looking for new ideas that are eco-friendly. Last year, Electrolux Design Lab specifically challenged student designers to come up with designs for eco-friendly and sustainable household appliances and solutions for the year 2020. Three years ago, Electrolux Global Design Lab finalists included a team of student designers from Australia who designed a waterless washing machine that used ultraviolet-c light for cleaning laundry.
What are the latest innovative products that you are most proud of and why?
It is hard to choose one or a few of the products because I am proud of the entire offering. If I had to choose, probably the Electrolux built-in range is the one piece I am the most proud of. Our approach was to create a product that looked more like a cooktop/wall oven combination rather than a slide-in range. The one-piece cooktop eliminates the crevice between the controls and the cooktop in traditional slide-in range products making it easier to clean.
The fully integrated dishwasher is another product I am extremely proud of. By observing customers using their existing dishwashers we were able to design the interior to better hold the items they commonly use. We even added tall stemware holders unique to this product.
What innovative technologies has Electrolux introduced lately if any?
Wave-Touch™ Controls that activate the control panel with one touch. What makes this truly innovative is that it guides the consumer through the process of using the control. Once it is awakened, only the next available option appears. For instance, the first step is to choose which oven to use – upper or lower. Once the oven is selected, modes appear such as bake, convection bake, broil, etc., and additional choices will appear based on your selections. If you were to choose the baking mode, the other modes disappear and the keypad appears, prompting you to enter the desired temperature. Now you can choose options such as multi-stage cooking or go directly to start. Only the next available option appears making this a truly intuitive control.
Would you shed some light on what are the new and exciting products should we see soon from Electrolux?
The launch of the new Electrolux collection of appliances is the biggest and most exciting launch in the company’s 70 year history. We continue to work on new and innovative products that meet consumer demands.
What makes the Electrolux appliances high-end or even luxury?
I think the stylish good looks and the Electrolux signature feature set makes this a luxury line of appliances. The Electrolux dishwasher is the quietest in its class and has the largest usable capacity as measured by adjustable rack space. Luxury-Glide™ Racks and Shelves afford the consumer a system so smooth that it effortlessly extends at the touch of a finger.
And the consistency from product to product down to the control type and LED colors to the touch point colors to the input tones, make the statement that this is truly a premium suite of products.
Our selection of materials and finishes such as the die cast endcaps and metal handles, metallic knobs and heavy duty cast grates are all luxury details. The attention to detail in color matching across product categories, the level of fit, feel and finish specifications create best-in-class products in this new Electrolux line of appliances.
Why should consumers buy Electrolux appliances? What are the benefits?
The Electrolux products were designed with the consumer in mind. We want the consumer to have a new and unique experience when using these products.
Once you have used one product, the logic of how it works is duplicated through the rest of the products. Features such as the Perfect Turkey Button™ and My Favorite™ settings eliminate the stress for cooking for guests, especially during the holidays.
Electrolux appliances give a level of matching, product to product, unseen in the appliance industry until now. From the initial launch, entire appliance suites will be available.
Where can one buy Electrolux appliances in the US?
The entire Electrolux appliance collection will be available nationwide at Best Buy, Lowe’s, Sears and select independent appliance dealers beginning in Spring 2008.