Where do you start when you are designing a completely new generation of appliances? In the future. Household appliances last a long time, so the design department looks many years ahead and develops ideas for timeless aesthetics. “Iconic design brings durability into focus,” says Martin von Freeden, Head of the Design team. “Our appliances are very high-end, understated and puristic. At the same time, they have a character of their own and a simplicity you can visualize in your mind’s eye. This simplicity is the fine art of iconic design.” Iconic creations are something intrinsically Swiss and this is echoed in the premium appliances V‑ZUG produces in Switzerland. “Beauty is a central function,” says the 47-year-old industrial designer. The centrepiece of the new Excellence Line is the redesigned dial, the CircleSlider: it is no longer three dimensional, but is integrated into the display – essentially a digital dial that is milled into the glass. “The milling is a really complex process. We spent a long time making adjustments until the dial was smooth and pleasant to touch,” says Martin von Freeden. “To achieve top quality and aesthetics we debate every millimetre and every pixel.”Another key component that is recessed into the appliances as a high-quality tactile design element is the handle – a slender, ergonomic bar crafted from a single piece of anodized aluminium. This concave element appears softer and gives the outside of the appliance emotional appeal.
The outside of the appliances has been the focus of industrial designers Andreas Arabiano, 29, and Kilian Hürlimann, 33, who have been working on the shapes, colours and materials. The Excellence Line is available in classic black mirror glass, as well as two new finishes, Platinum and Pearl. “We optimized the Platinum finish to suit light environments. It’s less of a stark contrast in white kitchens, for example,” explains Andreas Arabiano. “It’s a warm tone. We want to create warmth rather than utilitarian distance.” The Pearl finish, a shimmering champagne colour, is also exclusive and goes with both light and dark kitchens. Unique to this line is the fact that all the fronts are made of understated mirror glass, which integrates seamlessly into any kitchen as it continuously reflects the colour and lighting conditions of its surroundings. This is also something typically Swiss: not pushing oneself forward, but making an impression in the long term thanks to high quality.Finding the right colours to ensure that the tones of the handle, glass and display come together as a harmonious blend was a long process. “We experimented both indoors and outdoors, in various places at different times of day, armed with a stopwatch, colour contraster and true colour film,” laugh the designers.
The appliances should not only fit seamlessly into the kitchen, but also into the entire cooking experience. The concept of “seamless integration” applies both to industrial design and user experience. “We focus very clearly on the user. And we ask ourselves, how can we make operating the appliance completely intuitive?” says Gloria Cutura. A good example of how this has been achieved is the CircleSlider milled into the operating panel. The touchscreen shines through the CircleSlider. The quality of the display and user experience are immediately apparent to the touch, and its operation is instinctive.When you’re using an appliance daily, it should also be fun and enjoyable. “Designing a product doesn’t just involve the technical aspects, but also takes into account emotional, tactile and interactive appeal as well as user enjoyment,” says User Experience Designer Gloria Cutura. Operating the appliances should become second nature, so that V-ZUG products become a completely integral part of home life.