Design
Matters!

It’s an exciting statement to make, in the sense that just about everything is ‘design,’ whether it’s coming from an engineering, business or aesthetic perspective.
Header split with Erwin van Handenhoven and design sketches

“We must create products that not only reflect that we care, but also reflect our philosophy and brand identity.”
Erwin van Handenhoven, Design Studio Director at Hager Group

Modern design for electrical installations and devices 

Here’s an example that certainly will appeal to you as electrician. We’ve all heard about Bugatti cars, and from a desirability perspective it’s safe to say that they are very carefully designed. But while examining every tiny detail of these engines, we can see they are immensely well conceived. The engine’s interior could almost be considered as a work of art - a comparison that’s fair to make with many Hager devices. We know that as an electrician you’ll appreciate industrial design but rest assured your customers do too. Design also links you to fellow professionals too – be they architects, builders and interior designers.
Picture of the Bugatti Veyron's engine

Electricians are already ‘into’ design…

This is often an unconscious thing, without realising it we are all influenced by design, we compare solution A to solution B and here design plays a key role in the perception of performance and quality. Right down to the crisp sound of a ‘clip.’ Quality has to be designed throughout the process. It can often come down to the little things, the signatures or a brand’s DNA.

With design we show our respect for our customers, we’d like that they can see this and that it’s about making their lives easier. And then they transfer this to their customers, and all the users that ever use the product from then on. 
Hager sketched switch

Responsibility and design for electricians in the 2020’s 

But design also means imagining change, preparing a product that will move with the times. This places electricians in a visionary role – they show their customers they are thinking about what’s coming down the pipe, and that their customer’s installations will seamlessly adapt to the latest technologies. Design helps you build valuable relationships. 


Practical design, electricians and 'the secret life of electricity'

But why keep it all hidden? That thing that upon which our world functions, electricity. Think about all the different ways it flows into our lives; from below, from above from the sides. Hide it under the floor, in the walls… But why conceal the design of something that transports such a vital part of life? The transfer of power is a rather impressive and utterly fundamental to our lives. And again, we honour this with our designs. Most people agree that cables at home or in the office are messy and hazardous, sure to catch our feet or spoil the view in a room. That’s why we design trunking systems. These are designed to please the eye, be easy to assemble and perform a key function – bringing power to all the points where it’s needed, preferably in some sort of organised style and one that must contribute to the space. Power flow is as functional as a tap or a doorknob – both ubiquitous and both long since the focus of designers. We don’t hide them, we want them to add to the landscape of our homes. But with electricity we keep it elegantly hidden with the subtlety of design, like the understated elegance of a Hager light switch or USB port.
Erwin van Handenhoven interacting with a digital hub

Hide or show?

And here we are again, but why hide the flow of electricity? Indeed, why hide all the elements of electricity in the household? As homes become more and more connected, domotics will become visible control panels like the interface of an oven or a home sound system. We know this demand is coming, indeed it’s already here and for this we need to think deeply about design, because that’s what electricians will be selling their clients – a future-proofed system wrapped in an attractive package and because when we know what it does, it’s perceived value increases even more. And once again, this must move with the times, be easy to install, look attractive and please the electrician’s customer. Yet more design…!
Erwin van Handenhoven holding a cube

Conclusion

In the end industrial design has a great many customers and it employs a great many people. Architect’s, interior designers, builders, workers, the young and the elderly, families and strangers, all coming into contact with the product at some stage in its lifecycle, each in their own way and moment. We all bring designs to life, countless times a day just by using them.
When it comes to design and personal taste, we might like an old style product like the berker 1930 retro light switch, but we want it to perform in the 2020’s. A retrofit design is needed so, and here begins the topic of taste, and all the cultural differences with regard to design. But this is a topic for another day! 

We’d love to carry on the conversation on social media.

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Coming soon our design series: "International vs National Design", and "Hide or Show?"