The design of domestic appliances has always been shaped by the socio-cultural contexts of their use. Home layout and decor, gender roles, economic climate, and material cultures from fashion to food have historically exerted influence on consumer preferences for appliance size, appearance, and features. Our client, a global appliance manufacturer, asked us to help them create a detailed picture of the socio-cultural trends impacting the current refrigerator and washing market in the United States, and to build a set of design guidelines for their 2015 lineups.
In order to anticipate the future, we began by studying the past. We delved deep into old issues of House Beautiful and Home and Garden magazines, cataloguing the shifting consumer values and design themes expressed in refrigerator and washing machine advertising. We created detailed maps of feature and style evolution through longitudinal studies of Consumer Reports. And we zoomed into the current socio-cultural zeitgiest, plotting the impacts of culinary culture, food preservation, and kitchen decor on contemporary refrigerators, and fashion, fabric, and laundry location on washing machines.The second component of our research was the development and analysis of an online survey of 200 recent appliance owners, designed to probe, in particular, correlations between domestic configurations, stylistic preferences, and appliance choice. From a synthesis and cross-examination of these two research components and we created a final set of design guidelines that outlined aesthetic and formal themes for our client's 2015 appliance lines.