The design team is obsessed with iconic design and quality. With the Excellence Line it debates every millimetre, every pixel, every hue.
Iconic. Integrated. Intuitive. Individual. Inspiring. With the Excellence Line, V-ZUG is enhancing its design language – revolutionizing it, even. The steam cookers and ovens in this premium category will delight users with their beauty, emotional appeal and unique quality of design and operation.
Where do you start when you are designing a completely new generation of appliances? In the future. Household appliances last a long time, so the design department looks many years ahead and develops ideas for timeless aesthetics.
“Iconic design brings durability into focus,” says Martin von Freeden, Head of the Design team. “Our appliances are very high-end, understated and puristic. At the same time, they have a character of their own and a simplicity you can visualize in your mind’s eye. This simplicity is the fine art of iconic design.” Iconic creations are something intrinsically Swiss and this is echoed in the premium appliances V-ZUG produces in Switzerland. “Beauty is a central function,” says the 47-year-old industrial designer.
The centrepiece of the new Excellence Line is the redesigned dial, the CircleSlider: it is no longer three dimensional, but is integrated into the display – essentially a digital dial that is milled into the glass. “The milling is a really complex process. We spent a long time making adjustments until the dial was smooth and pleasant to touch,” says Martin von Freeden. “To achieve top quality and aesthetics we debate every millimetre and every pixel.”
Another key component that is recessed into the appliances as a high-quality tactile design element is the handle – a slender, ergonomic bar crafted from a single piece of anodized aluminium. This concave element appears softer and gives the outside of the appliance emotional appeal.
The outside of the appliances has been the focus of industrial designers Andreas Arabiano, 29, and Kilian Hürlimann, 33, who have been working on the shapes, colours and materials. The Excellence Line is available in classic black mirror glass, as well as two new finishes, Platinum and Pearl. “We optimized the Platinum finish to suit light environments. It’s less of a stark contrast in white kitchens, for example,” explains Andreas Arabiano. “It’s a warm tone. We want to create warmth rather than utilitarian distance.” The Pearl finish, a shimmering champagne colour, is also exclusive and goes with both light and dark kitchens. Unique to this line is the fact that all the fronts are made of understated mirror glass, which integrates seamlessly into any kitchen as it continuously reflects the colour and lighting conditions of its surroundings. This is also something typically Swiss: not pushing oneself forward, but making an impression in the long term thanks to high quality.
Finding the right colours to ensure that the tones of the handle, glass and display come together as a harmonious blend was a long process. “We experimented both indoors and outdoors, in various places at different times of day, armed with a stopwatch, colour contraster and true colour film,” laugh the designers.
The appliances should not only fit seamlessly into the kitchen, but also into the entire cooking experience. The concept of “seamless integration” applies both to industrial design and user experience. “We focus very clearly on the user. And we ask ourselves, how can we make operating the appliance completely intuitive?” says Gloria Cutura. A good example of how this has been achieved is the CircleSlider milled into the operating panel. The touchscreen shines through the CircleSlider. The quality of the display and user experience are immediately apparent to the touch, and its operation is instinctive.
When you’re using an appliance daily, it should also be fun and enjoyable. “Designing a product doesn’t just involve the technical aspects, but also takes into account emotional, tactile and interactive appeal as well as user enjoyment,” says User Experience Designer Gloria Cutura. Operating the appliances should become second nature, so that V-ZUG products become a completely integral part of home life.
“Enjoyable cooking – that’s also part of quality design.”
Kevin Perlinger is the man to go to for IT architecture and navigation concepts. The User Interface Designer is responsible for combining software development with interactive design. His task is to bundle and design the complex content in such a way that operating the appliance becomes simple and intuitive. The designers call this concept Simplexity.
For the 31-year-old, design incorporates both things we see and things we don’t. Things which are visible, for example, are the appearance of the icons, or the carefully coordinated tiles, fonts, colours and background images on the display.
At the same time, there are things which we subconsciously perceive, and one aspect of this is addressed via customization. The layout and visuals on the display can be customized, so you can save favourites and recipes and move tiles around. Both amateurs and professionals alike feel comfortable with the appliances. The aim is for even people who can’t cook to feel like they’re a chef. So if they want to, users can get assistance from the appliance, for example by using the helpful EasyCook default settings or the list function that provides additional information. “Enjoyable cooking – that’s also part of quality design.”
Equally as important are the excellent results that V-ZUG appliances produce. “We’re obsessed with delivering perfectly cooked food,” says Gunnar Donis. What felt like two football pitches full of apple tarts and many other dishes were tested during the development phase. At the end of the day, it’s the cooked food that’s the focus, not the steam cooker. That’s another reason why the appliances are understated when it comes to their visual design. They score highly, though, when it comes to the diversity of options they offer. To make a quick pizza you can use the automatic function, or you can prepare complex individual dishes to a professional level: “During the week I need to produce meals quickly, while at the weekend I want to celebrate the art of cooking. During the week I drive through town using an automatic, while at the weekend I love driving up switchbacks with a manual transmission,” says the 40-year-old User Experience Designer. “The appliance is lovely, and because it’s intuitive to operate and the information is so well structured, it also inspires me to try out different cooking methods sometimes. Or even to rustle up a new dish.”
With its Excellence Line, the V-ZUG design team has taken a step into the future. What sentiments should users associate with these new premium appliances? The team is unanimous: “Users? We don’t just want users – we want fans.”
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