Peace of mind from a cleaner kitchen countertop
timeline: 2 months, 2018
people: Benton Humphreys (designer)
A counterintuitive trend in consumer appliances is emerging:
As living spaces are becoming ever smaller, the offerings in consumer appliances are growing. Many new appliances appeal to niche uses and only offer one specific function. What this can lead to is an over abundance of single use-case appliances that regularly go unused and take up space.
How can we consolidate several kitchen appliances in one convenient package?
iVO: the modular ice and beverage system is designed to offer myriad uses, that would otherwise normally require an entirely different piece of hardware.
The hardware takes the place of an existing kitchen faucet and includes all of the familiar functionality that comes with it, and then some. Under-counter modules keep the clutter contained which remaining flexible in its uses.
To tie it all together, DIVI App tracks and displays usage trends for a more informed experience.
Home and kitchen sizes are decreasing, so why are consumers buying more small appliances than ever?
What's in a kitchen?
Despite a trend in decreasing kitchen sizes and an already saturated kitchen appliance market, small appliance purchases are growing and new market offerings are expected to continue in the coming years. Most small kitchen appliances appeal to either a niche or novel use, resulting in one product that accomplishes one task.
Based on a survey of 87 participants, I discovered that the majority have several appliances that are no longer in use and are cluttering valuable countertop space. Combined with the surge in new market offerings, it seems there is an opportunity to consolidate several niche and novel kitchen appliances into one system. In essence, it seems there is room to shrink.
Results based on survey of 87 participants
Where can we consolidate?
The kitchen sink is prime real estate for consolidating myriad small appliances.
Exploring user behavior in the kitchen led to several insights - namely, tasks and appliances can be categorized into actions, utilities, and novelties. Any action might require several steps to complete, leading the user all over the kitchen. Utilities are the core components of any kitchen (the sink, ice maker, or refrigerator, for instance). Novelties describe the additional components that one might use for a specific task (soda makers, coffee makers, etc.).
New kitchen products usually appeal to an entertainment, novel, or an otherwise niche use. Unfortunately, these are the first products to end up forgotten, usually left to collect dust and occupy valuable countertop or storage space.
The “core of the kitchen” is a smaller area for new product innovation, yet the ability to wash dishes, clean produce, or otherwise use a readily-available water source is a necessity that will always remain in the kitchen.
Preparing a glass of ice water is a simple task, right? Sometimes a simple task like this can require the user to move all over the kitchen to complete, hoping that no spills or overfills are encountered along the way.
Defining the target market.
Whether you're a minimalist, or looking for a practical way to clean up your kitchen, iVO has you covered.
Based on the innovative factor of this new product, the ideal consumer would be open-minded and welcoming of new technologies. They can be found on the spectrum of the early adopter to the minimalist.
A refined vision.
Subtle, yet bold styling will complement almost any environment.
This product appeals to those who wish for a decluttered lifestyle while appealing to modern senses. The aesthetic direction encompasses a subtle, yet bold, styling and feature set.
"The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it."Mark Weiser, 1991, The Computer of the 21st Century
Affirming the direction.
Rapid prototyping and 3D printing were used to test ergonomics and user feedback regarding the capacitive touch button locations and pull-out sprayer dimensions.
Users were asked to interact with the model and provide feedback regarding the ease of use and the accessibility of the sprayer feature.
The whole package.
Light and structural visual elements promote a simplified, yet complex, form. In maintaining the existing functionality of a faucet, DIVI offers 3 spray settings and a moving sprayer.
iVO: A modular and scalable system that provides utmost convenience.
Connection in the kitchen.
Breaking the boundaries of what a faucet can be.
In taking this product past the point of minimum viability, I decided a connected feature will improve accessibility and convenience, and provide a unique opportunity to connect to a larger system.
Real life integration.
Ideally, iOV will find its place among every aspect of the user's life.
No more waiting. No more clutter. And, perhaps most importantly, no more missing the not-so-critical moments.
No more missing the not-so-critical moments.
Looking for something specific?
You might find it here!
Made with love by Benton Humphreys, 2020.