There’s no doubt today’s kitchens are very different to those of 20 years ago. These days kitchens are more than just areas to prepare food. Instead they serve as a family meeting place, an office, or even the main entertaining area.
Appliance designs have adapted to the increasing amount of technology that is now incorporated into products, and appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers are often integrated into the cabinetry to blend in with the rest of the furniture.
Local customer focus Appliances design
As a southern hemisphere-based appliance manufacturer, Fisher & Paykel is in a unique position to design for the Australian and New Zealand lifestyle.
Mark Elmore, Fisher & Paykel’s General Manager of Design, says while they are based in New Zealand, he and his designers spend a lot of time in Australia learning to understand the consumer and what drives them. This gives Fisher & Paykel a natural advantage with local customers.
“Our location helps us to develop products that are specific to the local market, especially around sizing and performance,” Elmore says. “Refrigerators are a great example. Australians tend to like bigger fridges than Europeans do and our designs allow for this. Also our products are geared towards catering to the different climate we have in this part of the world.”
Fisher & Paykel Senior Industrial Designer Simone Stephens says there is a real difference between products designed in Europe and those designed in this part of the world.
“Consider Darwin, which is very humid,” she says. “Because we have products in this part of the world we understand that heat and humidity are an issue there so when we test our appliances we replicate that climate to make sure they perform well under those conditions.”
Elmore says there is also a great diversity with the food people like to prepare in Australia and this is reflected in the design of the cooktops. “There are some subtle differences in this part of the world that we are able to understand that other manufacturers may not,” he says.
Modern Local Kitchen Designs
Today’s kitchen incorporates a number of emerging trends, such as The CoolDrawer™, Multi-temperature drawer and DishDrawer™ Dishwashers and how they fit into the concept of distributed appliances.
“You can now have a CoolDrawer™ for drinks by the dining table, a DishDrawer™ for plates by the sink and another for glassware by the bar,” Elmore says. “The concept of distributed appliances revolves around configuring the kitchen to suit the way people live and work.”
Stephens adds kitchen cabinets are now looking more like general furniture, which gives designers a lot more freedom with their designs. “When we carry out research into how people use kitchens we see that they want their appliances to integrate seamlessly into the rest of their home,” she says. “It’s important to be aware that a kitchen isn’t just a kitchen now; it’s become a multi-use space.”
Experience Centre based in Sydney’s Alexandria
Fisher & Paykel also offers consumers, designers and architects a way to road test kitchen appliances at its Experience Centre based in Sydney’s Alexandria.
“Designing a kitchen can be a frightening process and one that is quite overwhelming,” Elmore says. “The centre is a way of overcoming this by providing customers with the full experience of planning a kitchen, along with the ability to interact and use our products.”
The centre is more than a showroom, it has been specially designed and curated to inspire and empower customers giving them the freedom to create the kitchen or laundry of their dreams.
There is a “hero” or dream kitchen as you enter, where customers can chat with staff about how they typically use this space. For example, whether they cook alone or with family, or how much bench space they generally use.
This section flows into a curated selection of kitchen products, 2D or 3D models and layouts, which offers customers a hands-on experience where they can trial products to see how they perform.
“We have in-house product design experts and cuisine specialists on hand to answer customer questions,” Elmore says.
Customers are also encouraged to put together a wish list with an RFID-enabled pen that’s linked to their mobile phone number or email address. When they see a product they’re interested in, they “tap to collect” and this information is compiled into a personalised product wishlist that can be accessed on their phone, or referred to their designer or architect.
Elmore adds the company didn’t want to produce just another showroom with rows of appliances where people had to try and choose between them.
“The centre is about us helping people work their way through the planning process without being overwhelmed,” he says. “Our brand philosophy revolves around having a culture of curiosity. And this is what we bring to the centre – we want to understand the consumer and what drives them.”
Find out more about the Fisher & Paykel Experience Centre. Visit fisherpaykel.com.au/experiencecentre
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