appliance DESIGN — June 2012
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Excellence In Design
Seth Fisher

E X C E L L E N C E BOLD

Sleek forms and innovative Characterized the winners of the 25th Annual Excellence in Design Awards.

We talk a lot about components in appliance DESIGN, so much so that every year around this time it’s a real treat to step back for a moment and appreciate the innovative products that our readers produce. If there’s a theme to the judges’ selections this year it was highlighting two design aspects: very clean lines, and the ability to incorporate some newish technology—especially sensors—to add functionality. This year’s Gold recipients demonstrated these traits most strongly. As you peruse the descriptions of our 2012 winners think of what kind of new technologies are out there now that you could incorporate into your next design.

Selection Process and Methodology

Entries were open from October last year through mid-February for design firms and companies to submit their products, including multiple photos and complete descriptions. This included a difficult answer form (probably more difficult than it needed to be) designed to make sure the products could be evaluated against each other on the same terms. Each entry had to submit a small fee to keep it to only serious contestants. Products had to be final consumer or industrial devices (not components) released after Jan. 1, 2011.

Three judges were then tasked with evaluating the products one by one, providing scores on a 10-point scale for the following factors: aesthetics, human factor (meaning how well it can be interfaced with), innovation, and technical function (meaning does it do what it’s supposed to). That score was then weighted depending on category, for example a small appliance for the consumer market would be weighted more toward aesthetics and human factor, while a medical appliance would be weighted more strongly by function. The scores could then be manipulated by editor’s discretion to fix any egregious errors that might occur; this was applied only to one product which fell just below the points cut-off but clearly deserved at least a bronze.

While the market categories of Electronics, HVAC, Lab & Test Equipment, Lighting, Commercial Appliances, Medical, Outdoor & Leisure, and Small Appliances (i. e. white goods) were used to weight factors, there was no categorical designation of awards as has been done in some years past. Rather any entry with a total weighted score of 75 or higher received bronze, 90 or higher received silver, and 115 or higher was awarded gold recognition.

For more information on this year’s competition, including judges’ comments and a slideshow of the recipients, visit www.Appliancedesign.com/EID. On with the show:

Horizon (model HNBES) LED Task Light

by Humanscale, New York.

Earning almost perfect marks from every judge for its stunning fusion of form and function, Humanscale used a film based on optical waveguide technology, most often applied as back lights to laptop computers and flat screen displays to produce a strong, dimmable LED lamp without the hardedged, multi-shadowed and glare-prone light that is normally cast by LEDs. Rated for 50,000 hours of use, and with a power consumption of just nine watts, Horizon can be integral to the achievement of a number of LEED credits.

Aesthetically, it fits within the firm’s idea of “formal inevitability,” according to which the mechanisms determine much of the object’s look, and unites two masters’ philosophies of modern architectural lighting (platonic minimalism and organic design), doing away with most of e extraneous mechanical bits that typically make up this typology of lighting. The film technology allowed them to eliminate the traditional reflector and lamp shade, and achieve a light head formed by an ultra-thin, luminous plane of light.Visit www.humanscale.com

Roomba 700 Series (models 760, 770 and 780) Robotic Vacuum Cleaner by iRobot Corp., Bedford., Mass., and design firm Essential, Boston

Who would have thought that a vacuum cleaner would be driving the robotics industry?” said judge Tucker Viemeister. A regular on every “You know you’re living in the future when…” list, the latest Roomba has a much improved user user interaction experience and is based on a new visual design language. Its iAdapt Technology monitors the cleaning environment over 60 times per second, using multiple sensors like cliff detection and dozens of behaviors including wall-following to clean.

A three-stage cleaning system was redesigned with pet owners in mind, with a new cleaning head, a more powerful vacuum, and dual HEPA air filters to avoid the earlier iterations’ infamous “Error Number 2” (clean the brushes). To my golden retriever: you have met your match! The team developed a two-tiered approach for the user interface, building around an iconic center-placed “clean” button, present across the product line. Visit www.irobot.com/us

Spot Vision Screening

by Pediavision, Lake Mary, Fla., and design firm Bresslergroup, Philadelphia

Spot is a fast, portable, easy to use vision screening system designed to quickly detect several vision issues in children as early as 6 month to adults from near-sightedness (myopia) to eye misalignment (strabismus). Often used at school or community vision screening events for kids, Spot provides early detection of potentially debilitating conditions. The device captures in one second or less, which makes screening equally efficient in a physician’s office or large-scale public setting—especially effective with young, non-verbal children. The key is the unique integration of patent- pending optics and processing algorithms, making what was once complex, as simple as taking a photo. The patient sees sequencing lights that draw their attention and allows the device to take its readings, then inform the subject when the screening is complete. For the practioner/volunteer the screen will inform the screener if the distance is too far away or too close. Very Doppler, guys. Visit www.pediavision.com

Bosch 800 Plus Dishwasher

by BSH Home Appliances Corp., Irvine, Calif.

This dishwasher marries bold design with one-touch functionality. According to the manufacturer it is the quietest and most energy- and water-efficient dishwasher in North America, operating at a virtually silent 39 dBA, with design features that include a real stainless steel exterior, handle and tub. Interior design features include three level-adjustable racks, a third rack for additional loading capacity, and an extra tall item sprinkler for flexible loading, accommodating large pots and pans. The dishwasher exceeds ENERGY STAR requirements for water by 125 percent, while using 97 percent less energy than the federal standard.

That efficiency, and its incorporation of 18 sound-reducing features are what bumped this into the leaderboard. These include a solid molded base and three sound-muffling layers of coated metal and cotton fiber. Judges were also impressed with the subtle addition of an Info Light LED which lights the floor when the dishwasher is in use.Visit www.bosch-home. com/us

Modena Island Range Hood

(model: Next Generation Europa Collection with DCBL Suppression System Technology) by Zephyr, Alameda, Calif.

The Modena is a residential island range hood takes advantage of the company’s DCBL Suppression System, a groundbreaking technology in a category that neglected innovation for some time. The system’s DC motor and advanced electronics reduce the range hood’s energy consumption by up to 77 percent versus similar range hoods, delivering 30 percent more CFMs at working speed levels. The sound is reduced by 77 percent to nearly inaudible levels

This is the nearest thing to reinventing the range hood from the bottom-up, and required a lot of working with UL to create technologies like a DC motor for use as its blower and the LEDs, for which the company partnered camera lens manufacturer. It also included developing a low profile heat sink and circuitry required to allow dimmable LED with 3200K color temperature compared to 3000K offered by halogens. Careful attention to production costs in its design allows retailers to price at $1200. The low profile stainless steel and airy glass canopy resemble a floating island over the cook top or range, hence the name. Visit zephyronline.com

G-Class Mantis Gas-Burning Fireplace System,

by Empire Comfort Systems Inc., Belleville, Ill.

Imagine a fireplace that humidifies as it heats. The G-Class Mantis is the only gas-burning fireplace system rated at more than 90-percent efficiency. That’s so efficient that the flu gases are cool enough to be vented through normal 1.5-inch PVC pipe. It is also the only condensing venting gas fireplace on the market, capturing condensed water vapor from its exhaust and evaporating it to introduce humidity to the room air via an automatic blower.

A three-stage, marine-grade stainless steel heat exchanger sends more than 90 percent of the heat into the room and vents in any direction through 1.5- inch PVC pipe.A state-of-the-art electronic control board from SIT of Italy adjusts the gas flow and airflow to ensure clean burning. The integrated remote control features manual control, thermostat control, and ten pre-set programs – reducing the learning curve for homeowners not yet quite used to the idea of an LCD display on their fireplace. Input from previous models was reduced to 20,000 Btu, down from 28,000. Visit www.empirecomfort.com

Ultra-Large Capacity Front-Load Washer (Model WM3550H)

by LG Electronics Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

LG’s 4.3 cubic feet ultra-large capacity frontload washer combines a host of the company’s technologies. A partial list of trademarked things incorporated into the washer include TrueSteam, Allergiene, TrueBalance, Coldwash and 6Motion. I’ll get to those in a minute; what you should know is that it’s been designated by EPA in the agency’s inaugural ENERGY STAR “Most Efficient” designation, meaning it was in the top 1 percent of washers in terms of energy efficiency.

TrueSteam adds steam to any wash cycle, primarily for delicate fabrics. The steam system is the basis of the Allergiene cycle, which removes 95 percent of common household allergens. 6Motion incorporates six movements: tumbling, rolling, stepping, swinging, scrubbing and filtration, specified by consumers on a power scale. The movement control also enables the ColdWash option, which compensates for cooler water temperature with tailored motions. TrueBalance is LG’s anti-vibration system, which cuts downs on noise and counterbalances uneven loads. Visit www.lg.com/us

MEETTHEJUDGES

JEROME CARUSO, INDEPENDENT CONSULTANT AND DIRECTOR OF JEROME CARUSO DESIGN STUDIO LAKE FOREST, ILL. Caruso has a unique, virtual studio, with five decades of product design success for major companies. The efficiency and design continuity of his one-man studio has contributed to the brand strength of companies like Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Herman Miller. With his creative direction of product design strategy at Sub-Zero for 26 years, this company has become an American icon.

Jerome is the hands-on designer and employs the highest level of engineers, model makers, and researchers. The methodology of his studio is holistic, creative, and efficient because of the single-person contact with clients, concept creation, and product development.

Jerome practices and believes that the art of invention and innovation is key to long product success. His deep understanding of materials and manufacturing methods has made possible an efficient, proven development process. "A vision of what should be is my key to breakthroughs in aesthetics as well as functional products that represent progress." Contact him at jcarusodsn@aol.com.

TUCKER VIEMEISTER, FIDSA, PRESIDENT OF VIEMEISTER INDUSTRIES NEW YORK Tucker Viemeister builds design groups. He was a founder of Smart Design (famous for Oxo GoodGrips), opened Frog Design’s New York office, established Razorfish’s physical design capability group, and developed Springtime-USA. He recently served as lab chief at Rockwell Group, then built a small research and development team into a teeming interactive business and is now president of Viemeister Industries headquartered in NYC.

Clients include Apple, Coca-Cola, Cuisinart, Black & Decker, Remington, OXO, Viking, J&J, Timex, Levi’s, Phat Farm, Nestlé, Unilever, Motorola, Toshiba, Sharp, Seibu, Toyota, Nike, Knoll, Steelcase, Kate Spade, Cosmopolitan Casino, Yotel and the NYC Board of Education. His work is in MoMA and awards include the first Presidential Design Award. He taught at Pratt, Yale, Parsons and NYU. He is the Architectural League of New York’s vice president, Rowena Fund chair and an IDSA Fellow. He holds 32 US utility patents. Named after a car, he is a graduate of Pratt Institute. Contact him at tuckerviemeister@mac.com.

sTEVE VISSER, IDSA, PURDUE UNIVERSITY WEST LAFAYETTE, IND. Steve Visser is professor of industrial design at Purdue University and has been on faculty since 1989. N 1996 he served as a Fulbright professor at the University of Art and Design Helsinki. In 2007 he was named honorary professor at Nanjing University of Science and Technology n Nanjing China.

Before teaching, he worked as an industrial designer at Hari and Associates in Skokie, Ill. He received a master’s in fine arts in industrial design in 1988 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Visser has received six patents for designs he has worked on.Itionally, he has served as an expert witness on patent infringement cases involving a variety of companies, including 3M, Diebold, Fisher Price and Intex recreational products. Contact him at svisser@purdue.edu.

ProtEX (model: PD 6870)

by Precision Digital Corp., Holliston, Mass., and Stream Product Development Inc., Chelmsford, Mass.

ProtEX is a meter for measuring temperature, pressure, and water flow in harsh industrial environments, differentiated from competitors by ergonomics, aesthetics and its novel display. Using appropriate aesthetics for this market, the company gave it a soft curved shape and deep finger grooves to feel more like a consumer product. The curves make it easier to grab and manipulate, as well as more rugged, and cap is made to unscrew by hand. Visit www.streampd.com

Rancilio Classe 9 Xcelsius,

by Rancilio Group SpA, Milan, Italy

tempeRature is the key to great coffee. The Classe 9 Xcelsius is a offee machine for espresso, available with two, three or four g tures a strong ergonomic design and their exclusive system, Xcelsius, which lets the user control the temperature of the brewing during the brewing process, a feature they call “temperature profiling.” The patented hydraulic circuit lets water temperature for extracting coffee to be controlled by means of a PID control strategy and PWM power mastering. Visit www.rancilio.com

ComfortLink II Thermostat (Model: TZONE950AC52ZA),

by Trane, part of Ingersoll Rand, Davidson, N.C.

Not just a thermostat, this device integrates technology and comfort into the user’s lifestyle. It features a 7-inch, high-definition, interactive, color touch screen command center with continuous HVAC monitoring. Its integrated zoning system allows the user to independently control the temperature in various areas of their home from one single control. It also allows users remote access via a computer, Smartphone, or tablet. The user receives text and e-mail alerts for filter changes and maintenance reminders. The ability to change temperatures in other rooms from a mobile device can help with energy savings, but if ever such power were to fall into the wrong hand. Visit www.beyonddesignchicago.com

OptiView XG Network Analysis Tablet, by Fluke Networks, Everett, Wash.

This is a portable computer network test device for the network engineer that combines tablet PC functionality with high-finetwork test hardware. It is used primarily in troubleshooting and performance analysis of a live, enterprise computer network. It contains all the hardware-copper, fiber optic and wireless ports and technology to test and analyze any wired or wireless network. Utilizing a large touch-screen interface and Windows 7 OS, it includes a suite of custom applications for network analysis. Visit www.flukenetworks.com

Braun cruZer Beard and Head Styler, by Braun/Procter&Gamble Company, Kronberg, Germany

With its special click & lock function, the adjustable comb stays firmly in place and lets users trim their hair or beard without worrying about the dreaded slip and- zap. It boasts a dual battery system and was designed equally for hair cutting or beard trimming. The dual-battery system is what to love. Battery life is about 40 minutes and recharge time about an hour, but trimming power is kept steady throughout that time, a problem that has plagued many a beard trimmer. The precision trimmer can be used at any time without removing the comb, which is new to the category. The waterproof internal cell makes it washable. Visit www.Braun.com/us/cruzer-shavers-and-trimmers.html

OmeletBuster (Model: MC0902S-100),

by CookTek Induction Systems LLC, Chicago

The OmeletBuster is a two-burner, low-power induction cook top that is designed for single portion display cooking (e.g. omelet stations). It provides an aesthetically pleasing presentation while being optimized for low-cost and cooking performance. The cook top uses proprietary control algorithms to improve the display cooking process. The unit provides enough energy to keep the pan warm when not cooking, fast recovery when cooking a new portion, and overheat protection that limits the pan temperature if left unattended. The power for each burner is optimized to allow enough energy for two display cooking stations on one single 15-amp electrical circuit. Visit www.cooktek.com

Super Capacity French-Door Refrigerator (Model: LFX31925),

by LG Electronics Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

The first of three silver victories for busy LG this year, his fridge was designed to give consumers more space and intuitive features as well as stylish design. It offers unmatched capacity and shelf space for standard 36-inch width refrigerators with 31 cubic feet. The key is the new compressor, which varies output depending on need, so when it senses a small temperature change it can regulate it without being on full power. There are fewer temperature swings, but this allows it to exceed fedearl energy standards by 20 percent. Visit www.lg.com/us

Double-Oven Gas Range (Model: LDG3017),

by LG Electronics Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

LG’s double-oven gas range was designed to give the consumer level professional-grade features. The defining feature of this model is that it has two separate ovens that operate independently, so consumers can cook different dishes at different temperatures, at the same time. It’s LG so get ready for trademarked features: True Convection controls heat distribution, the SuperBoil 17,000 BTU burner is the company’s highest power burner. The LDG3017 is LG’s first gas model to be sold in the U.S. market. The touch display includes two more TM’s which are what they sound like: IntuiTouch, and IntuiScroll. Visit www.lg.com/us

Over-The-Range Microwave (Model: LMH2016),

by LG Electronics Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Last LG product, I swear (I don’t swear—there’s one more in bronze). Designed with the home chef in mind, this over-the-range microwave features the company’s Extenda vent and sensor system. This is a slide-out canopy that covers the entire cooking surface for better ventilation. The Sensor Cook system can sense the optimal temperature for fast cooking. Using humidity-sensing technology, it determines when food is cooked and automatically turns off the microwave to prevent over- or under-cooking meals. It has seven different Sensor Cook options, from fresh vegetables to frozen entrees. Visit www.lg.com/us

ENA 9 One Touch,

by Jura Capresso Inc., Closter, N.J.

Jura combines two of the biggest trends in automatic coffee centers: a “one touch” interface and space-saving design. It’s the first ENA model that creates authentic cappuccinos and latte macchiatos at the touch of one button, without moving the cup. The world’s slimmest automatic coffee center, less than 9.5 inches wide, it retails for about $1,500. The new Aroma Boost button makes an extra strong coffee or lungo at the press of a button. It also incorporates a professional=quality built-in conical burr grinder. The design includes an energy-saving mode and patented Zero-Energy Switch, and a fully automatic cleaning program. Visit www.capresso.com

Infinity 20 Heat Pump with Greenspeed Intelligence (Model 25VNA),

by Carrier, Indianapolis, Ind.

The variable-speed technology of this heat pump enables precise delivery of heating and cooling comfort in longer, lower speed run times. It has the highest heating efficiency of any ducted, air source heat pump on the market with a heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) up to13, and it achieves cooling efficiencies up to 20.5 seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER), making it ideal for superior cooling and dehumidification. Rather than the “on / off” operating stages that most heat pumps have, the Infinity heat pump and its variable-speed compressor can adjust output within a range of up to 40 to 100 percent of capacity. Visit www.carrier.com

Revolution Hybrid,

by Picard Ovens, Victoriaville, Quebec, and Alto Design Inc., Montreal

This industrial bakery and pastry oven is available in both gas and electric power. It has one of the smallest footprints in its category, an integrated steam system for traditional baking, a new energy saving burner and excellent thermal insulation. The styling for its market is what sets this one apart. The stainless steel paneling doesn’t show any visible mounting screw, while large tinted glass and gloss-black painted front door separate the volume to provide a slimmer overall look, integrating the user interface. The large openings, see-through doors, merged with gloss black painted panels separates the different hot and cooking zone, the heart of the product, and the external, stainless-steel covered structure acts like a precise and protective shell. Visit www.picardovens.com

GrillStation 5-Burner Gas Grill,

by Hamilton Beach Brands Inc., Glen Allen, Va., and design firm Metaphase Design Group Inc., St. Louis

This grill incorporates several innovative features including modular cooking baskets and a fully-controllable Smoke Station, which allows the user to customize the smoky flavor or their meats and vegetables by providing a separate burner with flame control. The culinary tray and baskets let the user use a variety of glazes and sauces in one grilling session without contaminating surrounding food. Visit www.hamiltonbeach.com

RIGID 16 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum With Blower,

by Emerson Tool Company, St. Louis

The vac/blower is a versatile two-in-one product which combines a powerful wet/dry vacuum with a handheld blower. The vacuum’s motor head easily detaches and converts into a corded electric blower for removing debris from walkways, patios and jobsites. The blower is ideal for moving leaves, yard waste and other small debris. Visit www.emersontoolcompany.com

Compucold, by Powerquest

Remember my column a few months ago about knowing what the geeks are speccing? It was after seeing the Compucold. This high-performance, high efficiency computer cooling device includes proprietary cooling blocks that are installed directly on top of the computer’s CPU(s) and/or GPU(s). Ozone safe, ecofriendly refrigerant is delivered into the cooling blocks using a micro-compressor refrigeration system that automatically adjusts the amount of cooling required based on the load of the processor. It lost a lot of points in aesthetics, but for internal electronics that probably isn’t fair. Visit www.compucold.com

Armstrong Air (Model: A951E),

by Allied Air Enterprises, West Columbia, S.C.

95-percent AFUE gas furnace with a constant torque blower motor. A stainless steel clam shell heat exchanger is part of the stainless steel heat train. In incorporates a 33-inch high furnace in up flow/horizontal convertible-ready design (no internal modifications are required to re-orient the furnace) or dedicated down flow. 11,000 Btu per burner firing rate. Single piece burner design. Visit www.alliedair.com

NuTone LunAura /QTNLEDA, QTNLEDB

by Broan-NuTone LLC, Hartford, Wis.

the Collection is the first to incorporate blue LED night lighting with quiet and powerful ENERGY STAR qualified ventilation. It also features 36-watt fluorescent task lighting. The lighting creates a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere in any bathroom. It is available with a round or square/diamond green translucent plate and gives the appearance of natural glass when the LED light is off; when turned on, the panel becomes a soft blue hue. Visit www.NuTone.com

Compact Upright Vacuum (Model: LuV250C),

by LG Electronics Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

The LuV250C, LG’s compact upright vacuum incorporates LG technologies and convenience features to make a smarter and more efficient vacuum cleaner. These technologies include the company’s Kompressor technology, DualForce suction technology and their pet hair turbine tool. Visit www.lg.com/us

Cleancut Touchless Paper Towel Dispenser,

by SmartVent, and design firm Bresslergroup, Philadelphia

The touch-less paper towel dispenser automatically feeds and cuts any length of paper towel with a wave of the hand. CleanCut was developed for consumers looking for a way to access paper towels quickly and without getting dirty hand of kitchen surfaces and traditional towel dispensers. Visit www.smartvent.com

Draftmark Tap System (Model: NBABPD1000-1AB), by Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. and design firm Metaphase Design Group Inc., St. Louis

Remember my column a few months ago about knowing what the geeks are speccing? It was after seeing the Compucold. This high-performance, high efficiency computer cooling device includes proprietary cooling blocks that are installed directly on top of the computer’s CPU(s) and/or GPU(s). Ozone safe, eco-friendly refrigerant is delivered into the cooling blocks using a micro-compressor refrigeration system that automatically adjusts the amount of cooling required based on the load of the processor. It lost a lot of points in aesthetics, but for internal electronics that probably isn’t fair. Visit www.compucold.com
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