Tag: industrial design

A Golden (Anniversary) Weekend in LA: Celebrating the Past. Shaping the Future.

Written by Lou Lenzi, Director of Industrial Design for GE Appliances

As part of a growing relationship between our Industrial Design team and UCLA’s Architecture and Urban Design department (see my December 3, 2015 post ), Monogram was a sponsor of the department’s 50th anniversary gala on March 19th.

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After-school assignment: celebrating 50 years of design excellence

Among those joining us at the celebration was our good friend and noted Los Angeles kitchen and bath designer Laurie Haefele and Professor Craig Hodgetts, an AIA- award winning architect and teacher.

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Professor Craig Hodgetts; Laurie Haefele, Associate A.I.A, ASID, NKBA; and Lou Lenzi

The evening included remarks by Dean Block, UCLA’s Chancellor, and Hitoshi Abe, Chair of the School of Architecture, along with thoughtful tributes to Denise Scott Brown (co-author of Learning from Las Vegas), architectural preservationists The Palm Springs Modern Advocates, and industrial designer Yves Behar (designer of the GE WattStation, the Movado Edge and the Sodastream Source, among others). It was a terrific evening, and as they say, “here’s to the next 50 years!”

While in LA, my wife and I took the opportunity to play tourists and checked-in on two must-see’s for any designer.

After a Friday morning review of the graduate architecture student’s Cybervillage projects, it was off to the newly renovated Petersen Automotive Museum on Wiltshire Boulevard. Whether you’re a car enthusiast or not, the mark the automobile has made on Southern California is undeniable. The museum recognizes this history in an upbeat and vibrant fashion and is worth a visit.

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The Silver Gallery at the renovated Petersen Automotive Museum

Saturday morning was spent enjoying the buildings, grounds and art at the Getty Center. The views from its hilltop perch in the Santa Monica Mountains are worth the trip alone, providing the viewer with a unique perspective of LA.

And I must sheepishly admit that as an admirer of modernist architecture, I was more enamored with the Getty’s architecture than the art on display in the galleries. Shame on me.

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A Modernist’s mecca: Richard Meier’s Getty Center

Micro-topics in a Macro-space

Written by Lou Lenzi, Director of Industrial Design for GE Appliances

I recently had the pleasure of visiting UCLA’s Architecture and Urban Design (A.UD) department located at the Hercules Campus in Playa Vista, CA, the site where Howard Hughes built the infamous “Spruce Goose” aircraft in the 1940’s.

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The Hercules Building then

The Hercules Building now

The Hercules Building now

Ironically, I was invited to this cavernous space to talk with a group of post-professional Masters of Architecture students and faculty about micro-things, specifically our Monogram micro-kitchen concept for small scale homes and GE Appliances FirstBuild micro-factory.

The students are engaged in a year-long research project that explores what “community” will mean in the second half of the 21st century, factoring in rapidly changing developments in technology, communications, transportation, healthcare and other major societal forces. So it was fitting to visit and exchange ideas around the future of housing and the future of manufacturing.

As a designer, I find it beneficial to occasionally get out of the studio here in Louisville, spend time with design and architecture students and take a look at the world from their perspective. I often find myself becoming the student in these situations.

The design team here at GE Appliances is excited to see this project develop and I promised the faculty to stay close as their research project progresses. It shouldn’t be too tough to get the design staff to visit the class in Southern California – particularly during the winter months.

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

Designer profile: Robin Fisher

The Monogram Experience Center (MEC) brings designers to Louisville, Kentucky, for three-day experiences to learn about Monogram, the design process, our appliances – and even cook with them! We interviewed each designer to learn a little more about their background and design experiences.

Today’s profile highlights Robin Fisher with Robin Rigby Fisher Design in Portland, Oregon.

Robin Fisher, recent participant at the Monogram Experience Center in Louisville, Kentucky

Robin Fisher, recent participant at the Monogram Experience Center in Louisville, Kentucky

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Robin: I have always been a struggling artist. After high school, I started college to become an engineer, but dropped out to move to NYC and become a hairdresser. I quickly became bored with that industry and went back to school to study Architecture and Art History, finally settling on Interior Design. By creating designs that are functional, easy to maintain, and are high quality, I love how my work enhances my client’s lives. 

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project you really enjoyed.

Robin: I recently completed a kitchen for a couple on a budget in a small home. They are both professors at a local university, love to cook, and entertain on a small scale. We created a kitchen that is functional for both of them to cook at the same time without making the room any larger. Every space was designed for maximum storage, materials were chosen for ease of maintenance and low impact on the environment (water efficient fixtures, LED lighting, composting, locally sourced, low VOCs, and recycled content).

SRFD: A trend you’re over?

Robin: Hard-core industrial design. Design should not be “trendy,” design should be what makes a contact with your soul!

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Robin: I really don’t like or use the term “trend.” I dislike that Sustainable Design has been a trend, sustainable design should not even exist as a term, it should JUST BE HOW WE ALL DESIGN!

SRFD: What did you learn in Louisville?

Robin: Where to start? I LOVE LOUISVILLE! What a lovely town (I am hesitant to use the term “city” – it doesn’t quite fit the charm). The architecture, the art, the friendliness of the people, the food and wow – the bourbon! Love it all

My favorite part of experiencing Louisville was visiting Churchill Downs. I have had horses in my life until the past five years and have always dreamed of visiting. Thank you.

My visit to GE was great! I enjoyed learning about your products, especially the Advantium! What a fabulous appliance. I have revised my design to include one in my new kitchen. Cooking in your kitchen was a wonderful experience, although the Iron Chef Cook-off was more stressful than I thought.  I would much rather take my time and enjoy the process!