Author: karenabney58

Semantic Lighting – An Illuminating New Concept

I recently attended the 10th annual LEDucation seminar in New York City to learn about new trends in lighting technology. I expected to hear a lot about connected homes and lighting controls, but there was one big new concept that caught my imagination.

Since the invention of the light bulb, the ability to light our surroundings has revolutionized how we live. Now, those on the leading edge of lighting innovation believe that illumination will take on a more personal role in our lives, predicting and connecting human needs with lighting systems. This new concept is called “semantic lighting.”

These new lighting systems, through the use of sensors, identify what is being lit and with the help of algorithms, why it is being lit. This “system intelligence” means that lighting needs can be predicted and adjusted automatically, making them more human-centric. And in this day of growing human-machine interactions, who wouldn’t appreciate an application made primarily for our individual comfort?

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At LEDucation, customization of lighting levels, color, hue and effect were presented.

 

Dr. Brene Brown Says to Dare Greatly

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I recently had the pleasure of seeing Dr. Brene Brown, an American scholar, author and public speaker, give a keynote speech at SXSW in Austin, Texas, last month. That morning she made the trip from her home in Houston, Texas, to Austin to promote her latest book “Daring Greatly” to a crowd of techies, designers and innovators. When Dr. Brown took the stage, she shared a story about her drive over that she swore was true. She had been pulled over for speeding and the officer asked to see her drivers license. When she presented it, he asked if she was aware that it had expired the previous November. Her frustration was further compounded when he asked for her registration and she was unable to produce it. Finally, he asked the purpose of her travel and she replied that it was to give a speech. “The topic?” he asked. “Failure.”

The officer was so amused by the irony that he didn’t give her a ticket. But the story drove home the point that all of us fail at something, at some time in our lives. Some spectacularly, some in more subtle ways, but it happens to all of us. And that’s a good thing, says Dr. Brown. Not that she was advocating speeding. Her point was that in order to succeed in a big way, we have to take risks, to “dare greatly.”

The foundation of her talk revolved around these three pieces of advice:

  1. Choose courage over comfort
  2. Don’t confuse vulnerability with weakness
  3. Be careful about the feedback you let in

For more information on these life lessons, look up Dr. Brown’s books, TED Talks, and this keynote speech on YouTube.

Lastly, she talked about the importance of owning your own story, telling it honestly, and not creating “conspiracy theories.” Only we have control of our story, and only we get to write the ending.

She tells a pretty good story herself.

Universal Design – A New Approach to Kitchen Design

Have you heard of Universal Design? If not, you will! It’s quickly gaining ground as a major design initiative. Universal Design refers to designing products and spaces that are simple and accessible for everyone regardless of their age, abilities or limitations. In the words of Steve Jobs – one of the early adopters of the discipline – “Design is not just what it looks like. Design is how it works.” And kitchen designers today should look at a number of human factors when specifying everything from countertops, flooring and paint color to storage, lighting and plumbing.

Appliance manufacturers are also supporting the goals of Universal Design by developing products like ovens that have built-in temperature probes with large visual displays and audible alerts to insure safer food preparation; dishwashers with customizable height adjustments and full extension racks to eliminate the need to bend down; and microwave drawer ovens for ease in food loading and unloading. Additionally, details such as large handles, easy-to-turn knobs, and bright interior lighting are being designed into products.

The new Monogram French door wall oven combines design and functionality, and features one-hand opening and closing of both doors at the same time for ease of use. New induction cooktops use magnetic energy to transfer heat making them safer to use and easier to clean. Surfaces cool rapidly and surrounding areas do not get hot. And although these features are particularly helpful to those with limited abilities, they are “universal” in their appeal and usefulness.

InductionCooktop

Induction technology allows instantaneous heat adjustment, assuring exceptional cooking results. In seconds, you can bring a delicate sauce to a boil and then quickly reduce heat to ensure a smooth and rich consistency.

FrenchDoorWallOven

Inspired by the finest restaurant kitchens, Monogram’s French-door wall oven offers professional styling and distinctive touches inside and out. Each oven is built with premium-grade stainless steel and meticulously crafted by hand to make a delicious statement in any kitchen.

What was trending at KBIS 2016

Every year in January, KBIS (the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show) takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada. The show always features the latest trends in appliances, materials and technology, and this year was full of exciting new offerings. Everything from black faucets with hot pink handles, to barnwood cabinets, to crystal filled knobs could be found.

Building on the growing trend of creating the “Smart Home,” manufacturers from lock makers to appliance companies were promoting devices to control home automation and monitoring. Smartphone apps are used to connect consumers with various tasks within the home, saving them time, money, and sometimes, peace of mind.

Aesthetics-wise there seemed to be an emergence of “rustic modern,” using natural earthy materials in new and exciting ways. Textured wallcoverings and tiles in amorphous shapes and angles created a contemporary look that bowed to mid-century modern roots.

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Cooktops featured heavy-duty metal grates in interesting patterns, and the introduction of brass burners created a great play between materials and finishes. Satin Nickel, Polished Nickel and Aged Bronze were a few of the highlighted materials. Also big this year were appliances that give users feedback – knobs that light up when in use and glow at various rates and intensities to show temperature ranges.

Overall, it showed that kitchen and bath technology is catching up with the latest in digital advances and designing them into beautiful environments.

 

How many designers does it take to design innovative appliances?

As an Industrial Designer focused on appliance design, I pay attention to a wide variety of consumer product design. I look at design trends in interior design, electronic products, architecture, car design and even fashion.

Trying to predict the future of appliance design, particularly of controls, is really challenging, especially as technology evolves at such a fast pace. Our goal is to be innovative but never to lose sight of the consumer’s needs as they relate to simple, intuitive interactions with machines.

To this end, I have spent the last four months with a variety of people working on a project to predict the future of refrigerator dispenser controls. So how many designers does it take to design an innovative appliance? More than you’d think! Internally, I have worked with our awesome team of designers, Consumer Insights researchers, Product Managers, Engineers, Marketing Specialists, and Technology Gurus. But we don’t stop with the internal teams. The true experts are the people that use our appliances everyday, those who spec them for their clients, and the salespeople who sell them.

To get this valuable input, we started listening. We held a design summit with top interior designers at our Monogram Design Center in Chicago. We traveled to the northeast to talk to key retailers about how they sell appliances and what their customers are looking for. And most importantly, we went into consumer’s homes to study how they interact with their appliances and ask what features they’d like to have. As we continue to move forward on this project, we will build prototypes and put them in front of consumers for testing and validation of our concepts.

In the end, it isn’t just designers who design great appliances, it takes a village!

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Design Summit discussion at the Chicago Monogram Design Center

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In home interview

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Industrial designers meeting