Meet the Panelists: Four Design Leads Talking About the Future of Smart Home Products


In the second of our two-part event series, we are bringing together four design leads for a conversation about how we will interact with future smart home products.

Topics we will cover include: the way in which at-home products are designed to balance and address consumer needs and the user experience, where the genuine value lies when making design decisions, and how, through design solutions, we can rethink the experience of the home of today – especially as our needs and priorities adapt to a post-COVID-19 world.

Meet the speakers joining us:

Benjamin Beck, Co-founder of PONG Design

A passionate industrial designer with a strong entrepreneurial background, Benjamin is the co-founder of industrial design studio PONG where applies a strategic, responsible, human-centered approach to impactful tech developments.

“Due to the pandemic, there’s a perceived threat outside, which makes our home become our personal safe space. We spend more time in it, we make it more cosy, and consequently value it more. And in order to increase our autarky we tend to acquire products that offer us the experiences we used to enjoy outside.”
What’s your approach when creating products that improve everyday home life? What’s important to bear in mind?

“In my opinion, products are there to support humans and make their lives easier and more enjoyable. So before we start with the actual design it’s important to immerse yourself into the user scenario to see how we can create the biggest value with the new product.

When it comes to the implementation of innovative technologies into a new product, inventors tend to fall in love with the technology and forget about the people the product is made for.”

Boris Jitsukata, Managing Director of Goodpatch

As Managing Director of the German entity of global design company Goodpatch, Boris is responsible for the global business of the studios in Berlin and Munich.

“In the future, our homes will become cleaner, cozier and safer: iRobots, Air humidifiers, ambient lights, and connected alarm systems. And I also think that multi-user configurations will be more important because every family member wants their own account with their own preferences. Which means that everyone can use the few shared devices like TVs and tablets in their own way.

Things will also be easier to carry around the home, as you have to be flexible to work or entertain one day from the kitchen, and the other day from the living room.”
We seem to be flooded with more and more digital interactions via our home products. How can we ensure our digital products add value to our lives?

“Think how a product makes you feel? Design is how something feels, not just how it looks. Is it something that is supposed to make you feel better or is it actually just making you feel more anxious? 

What I for example know from my parents and how they sometimes use digital products: The default configurations often come with annoying alarms and notifications which need some initial effort to turn it all off. When I am in their place it vibrates or rings every few minutes somewhere and I need to tell them to turn them silent. 

Also the best user experience is often only visible in its non-existence – when something is not working well.”

Johanna Fabrin, Design Strategy Lead at SPACE10

Johanna is the Strategy Design Lead at SPACE10, a research and design lab proudly dedicated exclusively to IKEA, located in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is responsible for the Home Essentials Research & Design program, which explores how many more of the many people can get the essentials for a better everyday life.

“The pandemic has exposed how much of a node the home has become. It is this intersection for all parts of the economy and that will change how we think about what a home is or who should contribute to a better everyday life at home. “
How can product design help us to create better future homes?

“If we design products that create value over time – whether that’s smart products that get to know our particular behaviors with more use, or products that are so well made and well thought-out that they become an integral part of our home – that is how we create better future homes.

In our culture of overconsumption, the products that people love are the ones that solve a problem, that make their everyday life better – not the ones that take up space. Product design that provides people with products that add value instead of adding mess is what creates better future homes. The challenge then becomes to understand what people value. Taking a design approach that considers people and the planet can help us identify what value means.”

James Tattersall, Head of UX & Design at Mitte

As Head of UX & Design, James embodies a users-first design approach at Mitte, ensuring Mitte products are not just aesthetically pleasing but also extremely user friendly and durable, creating a delightful product experience.

“The post pandemic home most certainly has to adapt. A single room cannot serve as a bedroom, office, gym and school for a sustained amount of time. We need to rethink the home’s design and the products within it from the plan up, evaluate how a home can transform its functions based on context. How a multifunctional home can adapt to, and enhance, all the experiences it needs to fulfil.But if we are not careful, a core idea of home, a place where we can actively choose to be private, an escape from the stresses of daily life, will in itself be badly degraded.”
The smart products we use at home have the potential to affect and even completely change our everyday habits. What’s your approach when designing a product that taps into such a core habit: drinking water? 

“Designing Mitte Water products is about transforming that drinking water user journey from end to end and using smartness to create a delightful product experience. Smart features are used with great care and thought, it’s all about making sure the user can access the water they enjoy when required. As an example, this can manifest itself in demand-driven automatic ordering of cartridges and cylinders, with sustainable circularity embedded within the process. We always aim to build a holistic product, what valuable improvements in such a core habit like drinking water can be achieved in the physical product’s design.

Ultimately, it all comes down to the motives of the smartness and whether it provides genuine value in the user’s life. Obviously, some products position themselves as time optimisers, freeing space in our daily task-filled days to focus on the things that really matter. We as designers need to act responsibly in this area of work. We really need to deep dive into the user’s needs and expectations, do we optimise an existing habit, remove them or attempt to create new positive habits.”

If you haven’t already, register here to join the event. See you there!

By James — May 10, 2021
The information contained in this article is provided for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as health or nutritional advice.

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