Pictured Left to Right: Martin Svalander with Janina Hihnala and Daniel Virgona

Designed for Better Living

Designers Janina Hihnala and Daniel Virgona both worked on the launch of the new line of built-in refrigerators from our Electrolux and AEG brands. They talk to us about their design process — from seamless technology experiences in the home, to conscious design — and why it’s been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them.

Designing the new built-in cooling range for Electrolux and AEG has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as we were able to redesign every aspect of the product experience. Home is the most important place for many of us, and that’s why we place an emphasis on understanding how to design products that integrate seamlessly into our lives and support our day-to-day demands.

Domesticity of technology

We live in an age of domesticity of technology. Instead of attention-seeking appliances, product design has moved towards bringing calmness to the busy lives of people. Consumers expect friction-free experiences and technology that is so simple that it almost disappears into the home life.

Our human centric design philosophy guides us to always design with the context of use in mind. For example, we approached the range development looking at a refrigerator as an interior object that is a part of the everyday rituals of cooking, rather than a piece of technology. You can see this approach come to life in the simple design language that aims to declutter the interiors and emphasize sense of calm space and easy adaptability. We have hidden unnecessary engineering details and made technology into something that simply works quietly in the background. Materials and surface finishes used are authentic and chosen to extend the lifespan of the product.

Conscious design

We also live an age of conscious design. Consumers are becoming more educated and aware of sustainability. The products we create must match their expectations and consumers hold us accountable to deliver solutions that are truly more sustainable. This is a mindset shift that will have a huge impact on the future of design.

We have taken tremendous efforts to make this our most sustainable refrigeration range to date. The hero of the new range is the science-based solutions that help us fight against food waste. Food waste is our primary focus as it is one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world. In the new range, we also introduce a user interface featuring the ECOMETER function that gently nudges consumers to adopt the most energy-efficient ECO program.

We recently premiered our Maxispace model with the introduction of more sustainable materials. The inner walls of the product are made from 70% recycled plastic from discarded refrigerators creating a new aesthetic to our products. Sustainable materials are a crucial step in Electrolux Group efforts to reduce CO₂ emissions from products and we have several initiatives to bring recycled materials to wider parts of our new product range.

We’re excited to introduce this new range of built-in refrigerators that are optimized to make healthy eating easy and sustainable, so that people can protect what matters – your food, your health and the planet. Because the biggest impact we can make is through what we eat. For ourselves. And the planet.

In-depth with Janina and Daniel

1) What do you love most about being a designer?

JH: Design is often associated with appearance, as a way for making a product functional or aesthetically appealing. But before anything tangible is created, there is curiosity and empathy. Without understanding why we design, there is no good design.

In my work I’m driven by insights. I really enjoy discovering the particularities of how people’s values, expectations and behaviors are shifting, understanding what is driving that change and how to articulate those shifts into strategic design opportunities that influence both business decisions as well as product creation. Insight, and foresight, are key to design products that really makes the everyday better.

DV: Being a designer is about being a problem-solver, and for me this is what I enjoy spending my time on. I love to dive into a topic to understand the core issue, and using our creativity to evoke emotion, push boundaries and develop a tangible outcome — in this case, our new refrigeration range. We have a unique opportunity to turn ideas into reality and have an impact on our daily lives.

2) What does it mean personally to you to design more sustainable solutions for the home?

JH: At Electrolux Group it is in our core to design responsibly, with science-driven understanding to minimize the impact our products and their usage leave on the environment.

It’s important for me to be working with a company whose values are so closely aligned to my personal beliefs. It’s a great responsibility and opportunity to be a part of driving change towards more sustainable living – and make that change really an effortless one!

DV: I see it as a necessity. We need to be developing smarter and more sustainable solutions that allow our consumers in turn to make more informed choices.  We need to be constantly pushing and innovating to develop the best solutions to not only our products but also all products in the home.

We can all make a difference, and there is no better place than our homes to reevaluate what we put inside them. It’s where we spend the vast majority of our time, and there is a big opportunity for impact.