Good design pays off

Weinheim, July 4, 2016. What do Vileda household products, the iPhone 6 and the LaFerrari sports car have in common? Winning the prestigious Red Dot Award for especially successful product design. The ViRobi robotic duster, the Windomatic window vacuum cleaner and the Steam Cleaner all managed to convince the 41-member jury, composed of freelance designers, design professors and trade journalists. The award ceremony takes place in Essen on July 4.

“The design needs to emphasize functionality”, explained Dr. Norbert Weis, head of development in the consumer sector of Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions. Weis is one of around 70 people employed in research and development and the Freudenberg Business Group brings around 20 new products to market each year, worldwide. To win customer approval, household appliances not only need to look chic; they also need to be simple and intuitive to use. “This is something that the design can support”, said Weis. For example, the swiveling part of the Windomatic window vacuum’s head has been given a contrasting color, making it immediately evident which part of the device can be moved.

Good design pays off. Vileda has already won Red Dot Awards in 2008, 2012 and 2014. All the award-winning products went on to enjoy market success. "Good design is an expression of how carefully the product was developed", Weis explained. The jury evaluates the level of innovation, quality, functionality and the ecological compatibility of the products. This approach has won the Red Dot Awards a worldwide reputation – this year, around 5,200 products from 57 countries entered the competition.

When it comes to technically complex devices, Freudenberg frequently collaborates with "Indeed", a Hamburg-based company specializing in innovation development and industrial design. Indeed's CEO Karel J. Golta considers that these aspects are just as decisive for household appliances: "The design needs to contribute to the product, but also has to be emotionally appealing – ultimately, that aspect has a major influence on the customer's purchase decision."

The development team consists of innovation experts, designers and engineers. Following a detailed briefing, the team begins putting together design proposals, which they then discuss with the Freudenberg developers before taking forward the preferred options. The goal is to create a visually appealing product with a design that supports both functionality and operation. This is what will convince the consumer – as it clearly did the experts on the Red Dot jury.