CREATING EFFORTLESS COORDINATION
THROUGHOUT THE HOME
Levolor's automatic blinds had a remote that worked, but didn't wow anyone. We helped the home decor company create a high-touch device homeowners are proud to display.
MAKING A PREMIUM PLAY
If you're the kind of person who installs remote-controlled blinds in your living space, it's fair to say you're someone who values the experience of everyday things. Blind-maker Levolor's automatic product was considered "premium", but the look, feel, and functionality of the technology homeowners most interacted with - the remote - left much to be desired. Thrive's Product Design Team was asked to help evolve and create a unique Industrial Design identity. We began with a list of wants: something brand-aligned, premium-feeling and with a bit of design oomph to complement a modern home. Levolor, however, had some needs as well: Time was tight and the company did not want to re-qualify the device with the FCC, so a majority of the internals had to remain the same.
START FROM THE INSIDE OUT
While we couldn’t change the circuit board of the existing remote, our team knew that we could creatively re-arrange and re-think other items within the device. We began by moving the layout of the buttons to be easier to manipulate by a wider variety of hand sizes. Next, we considered ergonomics, moving the battery to the mid-back of the device. This created a hand-friendly “hump” to grasp and also helped reinforce other brand-focused elements, like a feeling of solidity and substance, which read intuitively as higher quality. Three choices were presented, spanning themes from tabletop work of art to nearly invisible when not in use, and one – a sleek, organically curved option that melded friendly, familiar home-device design with a sense of elegant invisibility – was ultimately chosen.
CONSIDER THE CUES THAT READ "PREMIUM"
On a table, the new Levolor remote sits up slightly on its battery-compartment hump, giving greater purchase to grasping hands. Once in the hand, its curved backside rests solidly in the palm. (Our research revealed that when it comes to remotes, thinner isn’t better…it’s cheap.) Three original buttons became six to offer clearer, no-look usage. We also looked beyond the needs of the end-user to those of service technicians tasked with programming the remote and setting up the blind system in homes. Previous iterations required techs to remove integral parts to reach setting buttons. Our new version offers easy access for quick service and setup.
ENGINEER A LITTLE DELIGHT
Outside of strictly functional aspects, we also heavily considered the little things that can make a device you see every day either just another piece of clutter or a delight to encounter. Knowing our audience as both detail and experience-focused when it came to their homes, we added a few aesthetic extras. The original remote’s LED displays weren’t shielded well from one another, creating shadows and light bleed. We tuned up the experience, creating softly fading transitions when buttons are pushed. Finally, when in use, the remote’s form was art-object like; made to be celebrated. But when not in use, we wanted it to recede into a room’s decor. To accomplish this, the remote’s mount consists of a small magnet that is nearly invisible when on the wall, and suspends the remote simply without a visible basket or container.