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Expertise | Home Appliance Design

Services

Design research icon
Innovation strategy icon
Inverted Color Branding Design Firm
Product Design Icon
UX UI Icon Invert Color Red
Inverted Color Engineering Icon
Inverted Color Product Development Icon
Inverted Color Software Development Icon

Markets

Consumer Product Design Icon
Medical Device Design Icon
CPG Design Icon
Industrial Design Icon

Markets

Medical Device Design Icon

Medical

Consumer Product Design Icon

Consumer

CPG Design Icon

CPG

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Industrial

Durables

Services

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Research

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Durables are typically some of the most important and expensive purchases made by consumers. As the market for durables has become more competitive, good design has become paramount in winning customers. Over the years we have developed and implemented work on appliances with companies of various sizes, from Fortune 500 companies to innovative young startups. Together we’ve designed and developed category-defining products. As a full-service firm, we can design a new durable product from scratch, or redesign and/or reposition an existing product to better meet consumer needs and market demand. We offer services in research, and industrial, user experience, and digital design. We also have a team of experts that provide more specialized services in definition, technology roadmap creation, future concept creation, user research, usability testing, engineering verification, proof of concept prototyping, beta prototyping, intellectual property support, and more.

RKS is a forty-year-old comprehensive innovation, design, development, and engineering firm. Over our long history we’ve created and improved CPG, and we assist at all stages of a CPG life cycle. We use our advanced psycho-aesthetic framework to solve complex problems that address design, engineering, brand, and regulatory issues. Our cross-disciplinary specialists, researchers, designers, and engineers leverage their deep understanding of multiple industries and technologies to spark creative and innovative solutions to our clients’ problems.

Our Clients

Our Unique Advanced Design Thinking Process

Psycho Aesthetics (P/A) is our unique approach to design thinking. Over the decades spent developing and evolving P/A, it has continuously progressed into a highly advanced design-thinking tool and framework that allows designers to create shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approaches to everything from research, design, and engineering, to UX, branding, name development, mission and vision statements, user interaction, and more. It provides an open design framework under which the key understandings of mapping onto a consistent framework combine with the creation of a “hero’s journey” for all stakeholders, from consumers to members of our own teams. P/A is a universal design tool and framework that is only limited by individuals’ openness to working within frameworks and their own talents. Combined with “design doing,” success is exponentially advanced when created through this framework.

Research Design

Research design starts with understanding the needs of the product we’re designing. The design of durables should be appealing to the eye, functional, easy to operate, and save consumers’ cost in use through either money or time. Underlying these needs are individual user profiles that encompass habits, behaviors, and biases. Our designers seek to understand our consumers by using our psycho-aesthetic framework to qualify and quantify the exact pains of consumers. Using this deeper understanding and insight into consumers’ behavior and psychological patterns, RKS designs sustain long and lasting benefits to users over many years. The foundation of this success comes from insights into users, their needs, their aspirations, their challenges, how they work, how they live, how they play, and the interior and social architecture of their lives. We use this picture as the basis of our designs. Ultimately, products informed by user research are safer, easier to learn, and simpler to use, and deliver benefits that are the highest value to users over a long period of time and lowest cost to suppliers. In addition to ethnography and observation, we use interviews, benchmarking, and competitive analyses, as well as evaluative research methods such as human factors evaluation, simulated use, and comparative testing.

Ethnographic Research

Ethnographic research is a cornerstone of our advanced design thinking methodology, psycho-aesthetics. Ethnographic research is a qualitative method where our researchers observe and interact with potential consumers in their real-life environment. For durable products our research is focused on where, when, and why they choose to use existing and new durables. We routinely go into the field to observe users in a broad range of contexts from their homes to their hobbies. In the case of retail, we visit retailers and learn how purchases are made or not made. In many cases, we ask users to make a switch or behavior change. This ethnographic research helps us deliver benefits that achieve the 10x or more that is required for users to make that change. When we can’t meet with users physically, we use current and emerging technology to gather and analyze data such as VR/AR, IoT tracking, and digital presence. Our team has years of experience designing, executing, and transferring data from our ethnographies to award-winning designs.

Moments of Truth

Our design and formulation teams use our unique P/A design framework, which aims to form long-lasting emotional connections between the product and consumers. To this end, we ask not how a design makes a consumer feel, but how a design makes them feel about themselves.

In the industrial design we consider aesthetic aspects, such as specific shape and color, as well emotional aspects such as delivery of “Moments of Truth”. In making choices to fulfill their needs, consumers are seeking acceptance of others, and to convey empowerment. We’re all looking to do more tomorrow than we are today, that is the human condition. Moments of Truth are essential to our needs of self-actualization and acceptance. Using these insights, we aim to create new, distinctive designs.

Regulation Support

Because of their general appeal, durable products usually have regulatory and compliance requirements. In the US, most durables fall under the CPSIA. Baby durables, in particular, have additional more stringent regulations. Other federal regulations might require certain labels to be added, while individual states may also require the same. Similarly durable goods sold in the EU must comply with Directive 2001/95/EC, which requires that only safe products are put on the market. We consider these and other regulatory and compliance needs throughout the design process so that our designs are ready to be tested by the relevant agencies and third-party testing centers.

Global Innovation

The durables industry is increasingly driven by innovation. These innovations must be sustaining and global. As one product is increasingly used to service multiple markets around the world, new durables need to provide value to a global set of customers. The types of global products that meet these demands, have taped into consumer insights and behaviors that transcend borders and politics, and attach to our shared drives and desires. Our psycho-aesthetic framework is uniquely suited to tap into these insights and define the needs and pain points of users. Using quantitative and qualitative data we quantify how interactive and self-actualizing our design is compared to customer needs. We then zero-in on the right combination that delivers the right value to the right customers. Our design and engineering of an MVP that can help further hone the right space and improvement multiple for the right customers.

Our Unique Advanced Design Thinking Process

Psycho Aesthetics (P/A) is our unique approach to design thinking. Over the decades spent developing and evolving P/A, it has continuously progressed into a highly advanced design-thinking tool and framework that allows designers to create shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approaches to everything from research, design, and engineering, to UX, branding, name development, mission and vision statements, user interaction, and more. It provides an open design framework under which the key understandings of mapping onto a consistent framework combine with the creation of a “hero’s journey” for all stakeholders, from consumers to members of our own teams. P/A is a universal design tool and framework that is only limited by individuals’ openness to working within frameworks and their own talents. Combined with “design doing,” success is exponentially advanced when created through this framework.

Research Design

Research design starts with understanding the needs of the product we’re designing. The design of durables should be appealing to the eye, functional, easy to operate, and save consumers’ cost in use through either money or time. Underlying these needs are individual user profiles that encompass habits, behaviors, and biases. Our designers seek to understand our consumers by using our psycho-aesthetic framework to qualify and quantify the exact pains of consumers. Using this deeper understanding and insight into consumers’ behavior and psychological patterns, RKS designs sustain long and lasting benefits to users over many years. The foundation of this success comes from insights into users, their needs, their aspirations, their challenges, how they work, how they live, how they play, and the interior and social architecture of their lives. We use this picture as the basis of our designs. Ultimately, products informed by user research are safer, easier to learn, and simpler to use, and deliver benefits that are the highest value to users over a long period of time and lowest cost to suppliers. In addition to ethnography and observation, we use interviews, benchmarking, and competitive analyses, as well as evaluative research methods such as human factors evaluation, simulated use, and comparative testing.

Ethnographic Research

Ethnographic research is a cornerstone of our advanced design thinking methodology, psycho-aesthetics. Ethnographic research is a qualitative method where our researchers observe and interact with potential consumers in their real-life environment. For durable products our research is focused on where, when, and why they choose to use existing and new durables. We routinely go into the field to observe users in a broad range of contexts from their homes to their hobbies. In the case of retail, we visit retailers and learn how purchases are made or not made. In many cases, we ask users to make a switch or behavior change. This ethnographic research helps us deliver benefits that achieve the 10x or more that is required for users to make that change. When we can’t meet with users physically, we use current and emerging technology to gather and analyze data such as VR/AR, IoT tracking, and digital presence. Our team has years of experience designing, executing, and transferring data from our ethnographies to award-winning designs.

Moments of Truth

Our design and formulation teams use our unique P/A design framework, which aims to form long-lasting emotional connections between the product and consumers. To this end, we ask not how a design makes a consumer feel, but how a design makes them feel about themselves.

In the industrial design we consider aesthetic aspects, such as specific shape and color, as well emotional aspects such as delivery of “Moments of Truth”. In making choices to fulfill their needs, consumers are seeking acceptance of others, and to convey empowerment. We’re all looking to do more tomorrow than we are today, that is the human condition. Moments of Truth are essential to our needs of self-actualization and acceptance. Using these insights, we aim to create new, distinctive designs.

Regulation Support

Because of their general appeal, durable products usually have regulatory and compliance requirements. In the US, most durables fall under the CPSIA. Baby durables, in particular, have additional more stringent regulations. Other federal regulations might require certain labels to be added, while individual states may also require the same. Similarly durable goods sold in the EU must comply with Directive 2001/95/EC, which requires that only safe products are put on the market. We consider these and other regulatory and compliance needs throughout the design process so that our designs are ready to be tested by the relevant agencies and third-party testing centers.

Global Innovation

The durables industry is increasingly driven by innovation. These innovations must be sustaining and global. As one product is increasingly used to service multiple markets around the world, new durables need to provide value to a global set of customers. The types of global products that meet these demands, have taped into consumer insights and behaviors that transcend borders and politics, and attach to our shared drives and desires. Our psycho-aesthetic framework is uniquely suited to tap into these insights and define the needs and pain points of users. Using quantitative and qualitative data we quantify how interactive and self-actualizing our design is compared to customer needs. We then zero-in on the right combination that delivers the right value to the right customers. Our design and engineering of an MVP that can help further hone the right space and improvement multiple for the right customers.

Consumer Durables Industrial Design

We prioritize functional industrial design that emphasizes intuitive creativity and calculated scientific decision-making. We design impactful products that define their markets and industries, and create new intellectual property. Our highly collaborative environment helps our designers to find best-in-class solutions that consider and define form and function, usability, physical ergonomics, marketing, brand development, sustainability, and sales. We begin by using our psycho aesthetics research framework to understand the critical needs of our users and determine the areas where we can drive the most value. Then we use our expertise to seek out and employ different technologies, materials, and processes to meet these needs. Often these new combinations are the first of their kind, and create new intellectual property. Our first step is creating a proof of concept. Once stakeholders have agreed on an initial direction we create a prototype that can be used for production, after verification and engineering.

Proof of Concept

Our proof of concept method enables our team to share internal knowledge, explore emerging technologies on the product roadmap, and provide a tangible concept. By its nature a proof of concept (POC) is a small exercise to test the design idea, an assumption, or a technology. The main purpose of developing a POC is to demonstrate the basic functionality of our design or formulation and to verify a certain concept or theory that can be achieved in development. Before an actual prototype is made a POC is a way for us to solicit feedback from our team and our clients, so that we can narrow our design for the next stage. While it’s tempting to move through this phase quickly, the proof of concept is a stage where key materials, form, and function are often chosen.

Beta Prototyping

Beta Prototyping is a quick and effective way of bringing a proof of concept to life and allows potential consumers to evaluate, test and share their feedback. Often this means seeing how they find, open, and use our designs in the real world, or in focus groups. We can use this feedback to make improvements to design and functionality. These improvements often reduce the cost as features are narrowed and technologies and materials are substituted. Internally, beta prototyping also helps our team form a more accurate estimate of how long it will take to complete a production model, and after that to manufacturing. Because our human-centered design framework focuses on the consumer, prototyping is one of the most useful activities for moving forward into production, while quickly finding any issues.

Engineering and Verification

Consumer durables pose unique challenges that require deep engineering know-how. Our design and engineering teams have years of experience engineering sophisticated designs, and getting them ready for production. Often, newer technology-enabled durables have complex mechanical and electromechanical systems with low tolerances that utilize new materials and existing materials applied to new purposes. Using the latest in CAD-based tools, AR/VR, and 3d printing, our team of engineers identifies and solves these complex issues early on in the process. This usually reduces the cost and time to production for durables.  Thus, through our engineering and verification expertise we create consumer products that meet their requirements, while taking into account COGS constraints, manufacturing and production timelines.

Future Concept Development

The market for durable products is very competitive, and continuous improvements are the only way to remain in the market. In short, we think that the future of the durable products market is largely decided by the product design. Good product design is focused on the now while thinking to the future needs of consumers.  Consumers are always looking for a better package, features, aesthetics, and sustainability. People live a fast paced life, anything that requires a lot of time for maintenance or in using will get replaced by a smarter product. A product with innovative approach and user-friendly features will surely replace a less competitive product. Future concept development helps keep a product relevant, allowing it to continue to meet consumer needs as those needs change.

Feature roadmapping

After designing a proof of concept and producing a prototype, we roadmap future features, and technologies. Future concept development engages the dynamic environment of future technologies, global trends, changing markets, and user needs. Future concepts can include simple requirements or additional proof of concepts and prototypes. This part of the process often depends on the needs of the client. Often these future concepts are used for creating upgraded and updated versions, as well as creating multiple versions to meet different market demands. Importantly, these future concepts give our clients an idea of the future area of intellectual property.

Intellectual Property Support

Patenting products can be critical in creating lasting value to our clients and to end consumers. We consider whether there is technology to patent early on in the design process, and work with our customers to file patents to the USPTO. We routinely assist attorneys and agents with the technical muscle to support the patent applications of our clients. Our experts help patent professionals draft effective and comprehensive claims based on the invention and the characterization data. In addition to data, we provide clear technical support throughout the entire application. In the end, patents allow our customers to own outright the innovations we build together.

Consumer Durables Industrial Design

We prioritize functional industrial design that emphasizes intuitive creativity and calculated scientific decision-making. We design impactful products that define their markets and industries, and create new intellectual property. Our highly collaborative environment helps our designers to find best-in-class solutions that consider and define form and function, usability, physical ergonomics, marketing, brand development, sustainability, and sales. We begin by using our psycho aesthetics research framework to understand the critical needs of our users and determine the areas where we can drive the most value. Then we use our expertise to seek out and employ different technologies, materials, and processes to meet these needs. Often these new combinations are the first of their kind, and create new intellectual property. Our first step is creating a proof of concept. Once stakeholders have agreed on an initial direction we create a prototype that can be used for production, after verification and engineering.

Proof of Concept

Our proof of concept method enables our team to share internal knowledge, explore emerging technologies on the product roadmap, and provide a tangible concept. By its nature a proof of concept (POC) is a small exercise to test the design idea, an assumption, or a technology. The main purpose of developing a POC is to demonstrate the basic functionality of our design or formulation and to verify a certain concept or theory that can be achieved in development. Before an actual prototype is made a POC is a way for us to solicit feedback from our team and our clients, so that we can narrow our design for the next stage. While it’s tempting to move through this phase quickly, the proof of concept is a stage where key materials, form, and function are often chosen.

Beta Prototyping

Beta Prototyping is a quick and effective way of bringing a proof of concept to life and allows potential consumers to evaluate, test and share their feedback. Often this means seeing how they find, open, and use our designs in the real world, or in focus groups. We can use this feedback to make improvements to design and functionality. These improvements often reduce the cost as features are narrowed and technologies and materials are substituted. Internally, beta prototyping also helps our team form a more accurate estimate of how long it will take to complete a production model, and after that to manufacturing. Because our human-centered design framework focuses on the consumer, prototyping is one of the most useful activities for moving forward into production, while quickly finding any issues.

Engineering and Verification

Consumer durables pose unique challenges that require deep engineering know-how. Our design and engineering teams have years of experience engineering sophisticated designs, and getting them ready for production. Often, newer technology-enabled durables have complex mechanical and electromechanical systems with low tolerances that utilize new materials and existing materials applied to new purposes. Using the latest in CAD-based tools, AR/VR, and 3d printing, our team of engineers identifies and solves these complex issues early on in the process. This usually reduces the cost and time to production for durables.  Thus, through our engineering and verification expertise we create consumer products that meet their requirements, while taking into account COGS constraints, manufacturing and production timelines.

Future Concept Development

The market for durable products is very competitive, and continuous improvements are the only way to remain in the market. In short, we think that the future of the durable products market is largely decided by the product design. Good product design is focused on the now while thinking to the future needs of consumers.  Consumers are always looking for a better package, features, aesthetics, and sustainability. People live a fast paced life, anything that requires a lot of time for maintenance or in using will get replaced by a smarter product. A product with innovative approach and user-friendly features will surely replace a less competitive product. Future concept development helps keep a product relevant, allowing it to continue to meet consumer needs as those needs change.

Feature roadmapping

After designing a proof of concept and producing a prototype, we roadmap future features, and technologies. Future concept development engages the dynamic environment of future technologies, global trends, changing markets, and user needs. Future concepts can include simple requirements or additional proof of concepts and prototypes. This part of the process often depends on the needs of the client. Often these future concepts are used for creating upgraded and updated versions, as well as creating multiple versions to meet different market demands. Importantly, these future concepts give our clients an idea of the future area of intellectual property.

Intellectual Property Support

Patenting products can be critical in creating lasting value to our clients and to end consumers. We consider whether there is technology to patent early on in the design process, and work with our customers to file patents to the USPTO. We routinely assist attorneys and agents with the technical muscle to support the patent applications of our clients. Our experts help patent professionals draft effective and comprehensive claims based on the invention and the characterization data. In addition to data, we provide clear technical support throughout the entire application. In the end, patents allow our customers to own outright the innovations we build together.

Human-Centered Design

The experience of a durable is a combination of the industrial design, UI, and branding into a compelling human-centered UX. User-centric design employs an emotionally agnostic approach, focused primarily on the tangible, physiological ways users interact with a platform. Human-centric design on the other hand, incorporates their emotional or psychological preferences as well. For durables, like other consumer products, we focus on UX, brand, and digital experiences that not only have a user-centric component, but a human-centered component as well. This type of design can encompass the way a product is presented, to the way it feels when opening, to the sound it makes when a user is using it. This type of attention to detail defines our innovative approach. From the color to texture we consider all aspects of the user experience. With a special focus on affirmations, we focus on giving users feedback that they have used a product successfully. In turn, this created positive self images for the user, and a desire to use the item again and again, while recommending it.

UI Design

As consumer durables include more software and sensors, simple user interfaces are becoming more important. User interface (UI) along with industrial design are the first touchpoints for any consumer product or service. Great products and services meet consumer needs, through a simple and efficient UI. We use human-centered design to think through different use cases, consumer reactions, and context to deliver UIs that are simple and efficient. We also follow the four golden rules of UI design; we place users in control of the interface, we make it comfortable to interact with a product, we reduce cognitive load, and we make UIs consistent. We consider the UI throughout, in order to make sure that the industrial design and UI ultimately combine into a compelling UX that makes consumers their own “hero”.

Data Privacy and IoT

As consumer data privacy concerns rise, so do the challenges of designing durable goods. Durable goods are often now intricate data collection tools, with sensors that collect sensitive data about their users’ lives. For example, many new household products now include sensors that can track usage; adapt to changes in temperature, pressure, or motion; and even diagnose problems and anticipate repairs, in order to prevent more expensive failures later on. In addition, the ability to connect multiple products into the broader ecosystem known as the Internet of Things can exponentially increase the benefits for customers while opening their personal data to new types of threats. As a result, the design of new durable goods need to  be secure from the beginning. This type of security is creating novel ways for durables categories to generate a competitive advantage. RKS has deep experience with creating secure devices that focus on customer data privacy. In addition to current security technologies, RKS also has experience in blockchain technologies including smart contracts, decentralized security and privacy frameworks, machine machine learning algorithms, and on-device encryption.

limitations.

UX Design

User experience (UX) defines a great consumer product. Three ways that this UX can be measured is performance, accuracy, and usability. To perform a design must meet the basic needs of users, while solving pain points and creating a solution that is multiples better than existing solutions. To be accurate a design works around clear specifications that

can be used in manufacture to maintain a consistent UX. To be usable a design is instantly familiar to users. In order for these higher standards to be met, the UX must be considered from research, through design, development, and on to manufacturing. We consider all aspects of the product from its physical dimensions, and its technical limitations.

Brand Strategy and Design

A brand defines the emotional connection between a product and a user through how the design makes the user feel about themself. For new consumer brands, which often compete in crowded competitive environments, it is absolutely essential to have a memorable identity. A memorable brand creates a foundation for products to differentiate themselves from the competition in the market, attract investors and partners, set guardrails for marketing, and charge based on the value the brand provides. In cases where a brand or collection of brands already have strong recognition in the marketplace, it’s important that the overall design is consistent with that brand or collection of brands. In cases where we are tasked with creating a brand or collection of brands, we begin with a multi-phase interaction of business analysis, audience analysis, brand positioning, creative and messaging, implementation, and maintenance and measurement. Together, and across the entire project we work to find the right brand or brands to represent the new design or designs.

Human-Centered Design

The experience of a durable is a combination of the industrial design, UI, and branding into a compelling human-centered UX. User-centric design employs an emotionally agnostic approach, focused primarily on the tangible, physiological ways users interact with a platform. Human-centric design on the other hand, incorporates their emotional or psychological preferences as well. For durables, like other consumer products, we focus on UX, brand, and digital experiences that not only have a user-centric component, but a human-centered component as well. This type of design can encompass the way a product is presented, to the way it feels when opening, to the sound it makes when a user is using it. This type of attention to detail defines our innovative approach. From the color to texture we consider all aspects of the user experience. With a special focus on affirmations, we focus on giving users feedback that they have used a product successfully. In turn, this created positive self images for the user, and a desire to use the item again and again, while recommending it.

UI Design

As consumer durables include more software and sensors, simple user interfaces are becoming more important. User interface (UI) along with industrial design are the first touchpoints for any consumer product or service. Great products and services meet consumer needs, through a simple and efficient UI. We use human-centered design to think through different use cases, consumer reactions, and context to deliver UIs that are simple and efficient. We also follow the four golden rules of UI design; we place users in control of the interface, we make it comfortable to interact with a product, we reduce cognitive load, and we make UIs consistent. We consider the UI throughout, in order to make sure that the industrial design and UI ultimately combine into a compelling UX that makes consumers their own “hero”.

Data Privacy and IoT

As consumer data privacy concerns rise, so do the challenges of designing durable goods. Durable goods are often now intricate data collection tools, with sensors that collect sensitive data about their users’ lives. For example, many new household products now include sensors that can track usage; adapt to changes in temperature, pressure, or motion; and even diagnose problems and anticipate repairs, in order to prevent more expensive failures later on. In addition, the ability to connect multiple products into the broader ecosystem known as the Internet of Things can exponentially increase the benefits for customers while opening their personal data to new types of threats. As a result, the design of new durable goods need to  be secure from the beginning. This type of security is creating novel ways for durables categories to generate a competitive advantage. RKS has deep experience with creating secure devices that focus on customer data privacy. In addition to current security technologies, RKS also has experience in blockchain technologies including smart contracts, decentralized security and privacy frameworks, machine machine learning algorithms, and on-device encryption limitations.

UX Design

User experience (UX) defines a great consumer product. Three ways that this UX can be measured is performance, accuracy, and usability. To perform a design must meet the basic needs of users, while solving pain points and creating a solution that is multiples better than existing solutions. To be accurate a design works around clear specifications that can be used in manufacture to maintain a consistent UX. To be usable a design is instantly familiar to users. In order for these higher standards to be met, the UX must be considered from research, through design, development, and on to manufacturing. We consider all aspects of the product from its physical dimensions, and its technical limitations.

Brand Strategy and Design

A brand defines the emotional connection between a product and a user through how the design makes the user feel about themself. For new consumer brands, which often compete in crowded competitive environments, it is absolutely essential to have a memorable identity. A memorable brand creates a foundation for products to differentiate themselves from the competition in the market, attract investors and partners, set guardrails for marketing, and charge based on the value the brand provides. In cases where a brand or collection of brands already have strong recognition in the marketplace, it’s important that the overall design is consistent with that brand or collection of brands. In cases where we are tasked with creating a brand or collection of brands, we begin with a multi-phase interaction of business analysis, audience analysis, brand positioning, creative and messaging, implementation, and maintenance and measurement. Together, and across the entire project we work to find the right brand or brands to represent the new design or designs.