The home is not just a place for sleeping and eating. It is also the place where we can express ourselves, our tastes and our personalities. As these tastes and personalities diversify, so do the consumer electronics that make up an important part of the home – small or large. These days, domestic appliances not only serve as objects of function, but of self-expression by merit of their aesthetic qualities. Samsung Newsroom is introducing this series of articles to explore how consumer electronics are changing to help users express themselves better than ever before.
The more we stay at home, the more we spend time with our consumer electronics, be they smartphones or domestic appliances. With regards to the latter, this means that the color and material choices of our appliances can have a big effect on our mood as well as the overall atmosphere of our homes. Samsung Electronics is opening up a new chapter in consumer electronics design with its Grande AI washing machine and dryer ranges available in a warm ‘greige’ (grey and beige) color and its BESPOKE refrigerator line, all of which come together to let users design their domestic spaces with utmost customization. Samsung Newsroom spoke with the designers in charge of determining the color, materials and finish (CMF) of these products to learn more.
CMF Design: Adding the Finishing Touches
Domestic appliances, along with furniture pieces, are important elements in home interior design. Just as we might consider the time of day, place, and specific occasion of our daily schedules when choosing an outfit, we consider the color, material and finish of our appliances in order to establish a personal aesthetic and feel to our homes. CMF design is the practice of accentuating the aesthetic feel of a product by means of its colors, materials and finish.
Today’s customers go beyond considering just a product’s function or efficacy when selecting appliances for their home; the question of how well a device can fit into a home is just as important. “The larger a device is, the bigger its effect is on a room’s interior,” explained Ji-won Hwang. “This is why CMF design is important. Our role is to transform these consumer electronics products into objets d’art without overwhelming a customer’s personal domestic aesthetic.”
“When we first lay eyes on a product, instead of noticing its form, we take note of its color and its materials,” added Inhee Kim. “This makes CMF design the most important aspect of product design. When we CMF designers work with the very latest domestic appliances, we stress that developing a timeless aesthetic value is just as important as optimizing their functionalities because people will look to commit to an appliance for 10 years or more.”
BESPOKE: The Refrigerator of Choice
Today’s consumers aren’t interested in trends. Long gone are the days where a domestic product’s design is one-size-fits-all; today’s consumers are looking for uniqueness as a conduit for self-expression. Accordingly, Samsung’s CMF designers turned away from following design trends and moved instead to looking for ways to provide customers with a more diverse, and tailorable, range of options. The outcome of this is Samsung’s BESPOKE refrigerator line, products that herald the age of customizable home appliances. “Of course, our team could not have created the BESPOKE refrigerator line on or own,” affirmed all four CMF designers. “In pursuit of developing such a product, management, planning, development and production teams all came together.”
The 2020 line of BESPOKE refrigerators has a ‘city traveler’ aesthetic to it. “I was looking for colors that have somewhat of a universal appeal,” said Mina Kim, who proposed this aesthetic. “Many customers who are living in big cities these days are inspired by travel and the aesthetics of lifestyles that are different from their own. Following this train of thought, I came up with an aesthetic that allows users to bring the colors of a city they wish to visit into their own space.”
‘Greige’: The Color of Comfort
The work of a domestic appliance designer starts with an understanding of the target user’s lifestyle and living space. Not only is it important to create designs that make a product stand out, but in the case of domestic appliances specifically, it is of utmost importance that these products can blend into a user’s home seamlessly. “When designing a product, we look at various lifestyle elements, including local cultures and mindsets as well as general preferences for colors and materials,” explained Inhee Kim. “We consider how these aesthetic and lifestyle elements factor into the experience of owning a domestic appliance, from its first arrival into a household through to use and even cleaning.”
The color of Samsung’s Grande AI washing machine and dryer, ‘greige’, was accordingly inspired by people’s patterns of use. Consumer research found that many users have their dryers installed indoors and, ideally, place them beside or on top of their washing machines. However, lack of space in the laundry room often means that dryers end up being located in personal living spaces, which means their aesthetic qualities have to be able to match that of the living space. “When we came up with the Grande AI’s ‘greige’ color, our focus was on making the dryer look at home in the living space,” said Mido Choi. “This gray-beige color has a warm tone to it so that the dryer looks like a genuine piece of furniture, not just a machine.”
This same design process is what brought about the white swatch of Samsung’s ultra-lightweight vacuum cleaner, Samsung Jet Light. Understanding that many users are prone to hiding their vacuum cleaners after use in cupboards or other storage spaces due to their metallic swatches that often do not match with a household’s aesthetic, the Samsung Jet Light was designed with this bright coloring so that it is able to match with any interior; its white hue also embodies the device’s lightweight qualities as it weighs just 2.57kg.
It is a commonly-held belief that all-white objects can actually detract from a home’s interior given the color white’s capacity to show dirt easier, so upon seeing the product alone, consumers were not convinced of its applicability in the household. But all the CMF designers had to do was showcase how naturally the Samsung Jet Light integrates into any lifestyle setting to change the minds of skeptics. “When the Samsung Jet Light was first announced, we saw many comments online noting how well its color matched with a home’s interior,” noted Choe. “Due to the functional characteristics of a vacuum cleaner, we are somewhat restricted when it comes to material choice, so I think we have managed to establish the Samsung Jet Light as an impressive and aesthetically-pleasing domestic item through the color choice alone.”
For the same reason, Samsung’s portable induction cooktop ‘The Plate’ was the first Samsung induction product to be offered in white. With its almost completely white design, light aesthetic and compact design it fits well into white-themed interiors and is drawing positive responses from millennial users who enjoy home-cooking.
Personal Touches: Keeping Up with Users’ Evolving Tastes
Key to the way CMF designers think is the affirmation that they, too, are users. This philosophy motivates them to work harder to design products that they themselves would want to purchase and keep in their homes for a long time; on top of this, they keep users’ lifestyles and tastes front of mind so as to create appliances that are as aesthetically durable as they are functionally long-lasting.
“Given how long we intend to keep our home appliance products for after purchase, we will always seek out those that appeal to our own tastes the most,” noted Mina Kim. “Therefore, CMF design, which is all about developing designs that can match users’ lifestyles and tastes, is becoming increasingly important.”
When asked about what they think lies ahead for CMF design and Samsung’s home appliances more generally, Inhee Kim stressed the importance of sustainability. “I recently read a report that 70% of users consider a brand’s environmental footprint when looking to purchase products, so we will work hard to satisfy this expectation and incorporate renewable design into our work,” she said. “We are working to debut a design that features the aesthetic charm of handicraft art, something that consumers can enjoy because it is luxurious but also because it is sustainable.”
Samsung’s CMF designers have been working hard at integrating Samsung’s unique design philosophy and identity into its variety of domestic appliances. They will continue to present us with products that keep the concepts of the individual, the personal and the cutting-edge at their core.