Helen Hamlyn Foundation
Despite the implicit promise of digital technology to make our lives simpler and easier, there is a crisis afoot for the growing, older population. Although many household appliances are easily acquired, these same products are inherently difficult to manage and maintain over time; what was once purchased as a convenience has potential to become a burden in later life. As we age, we become less likely to navigate the conditions that shops and manufacturers require of youthful consumers. This puts the ageing population in an unfortunate position – abandoned at the exact moment when they need better products, increased assistance and servicing. Alienated by the speed of change in trade, manufacturing and technology, older consumers would benefit from a revolutionary domestic independence: the Amazin Apartment.
Amazin Apartment, designed by Future Facility, creates the experience of heightened domestic simplicity, where appliances are reduced to their most essential interface and all anxiety about their operation and maintenance is removed. In the installation, three segments of a typical Amazin wall have been created to demonstrate the visual and functional differences between the apartment and service sides. For example the washer/dryer has a single button with one setting, not endless interfaces. It is positioned at standing height, with a shelf below, to avoid the need for bending down. The back side of the walls house the Amazin Service corridor, organised like an advanced warehouse, so that goods and services can be passed through, historically analysed and replaced as needed with minimal impact on the Apartment, allowing staff to repair or replace an appliance should it break – all without staff entering the apartment.
2010 (not in production)
When it comes to hair styling, the styling of the hairdryer itself is usually an afterthought, its design having remained curiously static over the years. To redress this, Wallpaper asked Industrial Facility to rethink the ubiquitous blow-drying tool and to examine all its familiar workings. Looking at how the object fits into a room or cupboard, the studio focused on added functionality and the storage of the cable. The Dryerhair incorporated a translucent cavity into which the cable neatly coiled when not in use, with the plug doubling as a lid. The switch, meanwhile, was tucked out of sight in the base of the handle.
2008 (not in production)
Cantilever was an electronic piano that used the qualities of synthetic material and minimal presence to counter any perception of inferiority in digital sound output, compared with the classical string piano. It represented a new typology that brought the electronic piano into modernity. Cantilever's two simple volumes could only be achieved with electronic components, and created a new type of form that started to give pride back to this type of product. Functionally, the top surface could be gently pushed back to reveal the piano keys, with the 89th key serving as a remote control for playback and navigation.
The challenge in Industrial Facility's eyes was to strip away all metaphor and iconography that had previously plagued this type of product, and to create a digital piano on its own merits. The image of a faux grand piano was removed. What you were left with is the space to create something monumental on a digital level. Piano-ness was achieved not with image, but with feeling. Shortly after its public release Yamaha retreated from its development due to economic conditions.
Salone Internationale del Mobile, Milan, 2008
An opportunity arose at Muji, to investigate an affordable small capacity coffee maker that would involve a stainless steel insulated pot, made possible by a new relationship with Toshiba. With the help of Kazushige Miyake who had a sound knowledge of the principles of coffee machine manufacture, we proposed a cylindrical tower, purposefully ignoring existing componentry, and instead being informed by the landscape of use, namely the kitchen. A cylinder meant that it could rightly sit in a corner or on a central counter, resembling the types of items already found in a kitchen.
The design was presented as a simple cardboard tube to explain its concept. It was accepted on the spot. This was followed with proposals for all of the mechanics, water filtration, and in particular, a concept for ‘wrapping’ the water resorvoir around the coffee filter. The design went on to become one of Muji’s most popular products with its customers, and continues to be in production with minor improvements made in 2010.
IF Hannover Gold Award, 2007
Love & Money, Ozone Gallery, Tokyo, 2006
Some Recent Projects, Design Museum London, 2009
Design East, Osaka, 2010
2006 — 2010
Cooling fans are one of those objects that often find themselves in the middle of a room – where all sides are seen. And it is clearly apparent that with most of these types of products, as soon as they are introduced into a room, the feeling or atmosphere becomes sad and unfortunate. To stem this problem as much attention was paid to the back of the product, as to the front. Under significant component constraints, much of the design work was a process of careful negotiation with engineers, to ensure that the principles of simplicity important to Muji were maintained – for instance the fan motor and gear system had to be re-configured so as to obtain a perfectly smooth cylinder, expressing the force of a motor, reminiscent to a jet engine.
The remote control rested in the base when not in use, similar to a puzzle piece. Adjustable heights from 84cm to 104cm, with control settings for speed, direction and rhythm – a function that modulated air flow similar to a breeze.
The design proved to be a best seller for Muji and it allowed them to invest in a smaller version, that was added to the range in 2008.
IF Hannover Award, 2007
Some Recent Projects, Design Museum London, 2008