Page 4: Refining the design
About 200 sketches of ideas for the products were generated; after a screening process these were reduced to ten ideas which were further refined.
To create the image of a family, it was necessary that all of the products had a stocky shape with a body gradually tapering up from a broad base. This required considerable ingenuity in the case of the citrus press which also needed to have a large top to accommodate both the fruit and the hand of the user. Eventually a lateral thinking designer came up with a solution which involved removing the cone, turning the body upside down, and placing the cone on top again to leave the same stocky body but with a smaller footprint.
Colour was needed to give the products an emotional content and should reflect the new domestic environment and the context of food and drink preparation. To combine well with the brown of coffee and the orange of orange juice, they needed to be quiet and calm such as pastel colours.
Market research using painted dummies revealed that certain pastel shades were seen as too ‘trendy’ and ran against the perceived ‘timeless’ appeal of the design. In the end the colours chosen provided a subtle compromise between mass market white or near-white of Philips’ kitchen appliances and Alessi’s sometimes provocative use of colour.
Rather than use a harmonised shade of one colour, it was decided to use a separate colour for each product, the colour that was felt to relate best to the function of the product. An accent colour (dark burgundy), and the combination of the Philips’ wordmark and the Alessi Workshop logo serve to reinforce the family resemblance.
Materials were chosen to support the qualities of ‘reliability’. The products are designed to have a long life span. A sturdy, enhanced polypropylene was selected, allowing thicker wall sections, increasing stability. For certain parts - the kettle spout and the inside of the coffee maker jug - stainless steel was used.
Testing was carried out at various stages to ensure that products met with specifications as well as to find out the reaction of potential users. Foam models of the products were initially tested on panels of consumers, and later colours were tested out to check on audience response. Finally a number of field tests were carried out in people’s homes and in real life situations.