Featuring in the July/August edition of Interior Design Today, Seymourpowell Associate Design Director Ian Whatley looks at the history of the humble heating device.
Initially the radiator was something that was retrofitted into homes to replace older heating systems; namely the open fire. They were designed purely for function with little attention to aesthetic sensibilities. At this time central heating was a revelation. Expectations were very different. Just to have this luxury installed was a privilege.
This functional approach was challenged in the 1990’s when the Hot Spring radiator was launched by Bisque. People demanded more choice and control in the way their homes were decorated. Now we see almost every shape and size of radiator that a designer could conceive.
Italian manufacturer I-Radium actually design some of their products with a dual functionality, for example the radiator that is also a chair, ideal for a small flat where space is at a premium. Their use of wood is unexpected and actually very pleasing in some of their designs.
In parallel to the plethora of different shapes and sizes of radiator on the market, we have also seen a boom in under floor heating. Some consumers just don’t feel the need to ‘see’ the components of a heating system. Such concealed systems are also claimed to be more economical and environmentally friendly than the norm.
So we reach the point where it feels like the radiator is just ‘styled out’, or in the case of under floor heating it’s actually now invisible. So with form a seemingly saturated approach, the designer reverted to function as was the key driver for so many years.
At Seymourpowell we don’t just design products, we design a complete product solution that addresses the physical, but also the experience and the service that consumers now demand.
Over a quarter of UK adults and nearly half of UK teenagers use a smartphone. People are accustomed to using them for everything from online banking, to social media, even to use an App like ‘Sky+’, which allows them to program their TV to record remotely.
The ‘Learning Thermostat’ from Nest is a fantastic example of how user experience design has started to revolutionise the world of heating. It is driven by the premise that your thermostat controls half of your energy bills. Their brilliant system uses clever software to intelligently learn how and when you heat your home. With adaptive and predictive behaviour it never stops learning; ultimately saving you energy and money. Best of all it is adjustable remotely via its own smartphone app.
So what might the future hold? We have seen product convergence for some years with collaborations such as Nike+ with Apple where a running shoe and iPod together track a runner’s performance and make the statistics available for analysis. If we take this principle into the future, maybe one day we might see ‘smart biometrics’ used to subliminally regulate room temperature before we even know that we’re getting too hot or cold?!
For more information contact the Seymourpowell PR Team.