In 2002, while working at Hareide Designmill, we got involved with the Norwegian company ELKO, a company developing electric installation appliances primarily for the domestic market but also for the Nordic market. The Norwegian market was at that time, extremely limited when it came to the choice of installation material, and ELKO had a 80% market share with their, it has to be said, very esthetical unsophisticated products. At the same time ELKO could see the market slowly changing and foreign competitors, like Schneider, starting to enter the market in the more high-end segments.
We were invited to compete with two other design agencies to get the project to design a new range of installation appliances for more design conscious consumers with more sophisticated taste. The real challenge was that these new products had to be based on the existing internal components and construction. A construction that was already more than 30 years old. All agencies created three different design proposals, and the nine designs were tested on consumers in a realistic setting. The three designs I was in charge of ranked one, two and three when the votes were counted. We won the project and after an internal discussion, we decided to move forward with the runner-up design, which is the final design in these pictures. This is the design that got the most polarizing response, but this was our favorite all along.
Our goal was to design a product that appeals both visually and tactile.The design is very simple and controlled and with a subtle organic sculpture on the part that the consumer actually touch. Frame has an distinct undercut that decreases the perceived thickness of the product and also gives the user the possibility to customize the product with various inner frames.
This project continued well after I left Hareide Designmill and the whole range was completed at a later stage. When it comes to the selection of materials and finishing now available on the market, I take no responsibility. Even though the end consumer can customize the product, I believe that a company should provide, and have full control of, a palette of coordinated high quality materials and finishes that does the product justice.