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issue: June 2012 ApplianceMagazine.com

Philips Details An Award-Winning Appliance Design

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When Philips designed its first home-use IPL device, designers wanted to create an archetypal shape for the product category.

Intense Pulsed Light hair removal devices have been used by the professional beauty industry and are now a growing category of home personal care appliances.

Philips wanted to differentiate itself from existing devices from its competitors, with a base station and hand pieces it saw as "clunky."

"With a new product category like this, there is no established archetypal design," said Ozgur Tasar, creative lead. "So we set about defining one with Lumea."

Philips Lumea design ended up being the first handheld cordless model of its kind.

From Milk Carton to Sleek and Simple

IPL technology uses pulses of light applied directly to the skin, which make hair follicles go into a "resting phase" and shed naturally. Using IPL every 4-6 weeks keeps hair from re-growing. IPL systems as a whole don't work on red, light blonde, or gray hair.

Philip's design team sought to give this complex technology into an appliance that looked inviting and was intuitive to use.

The goal at the outset was to create one cordless, hand-held device, and the primary obstacle was simply one of bulk.

"The main design challenge was taming so many huge and complex components into a simple shape that made intuitive sense to people," said Lieven Adriaessen, lead designer.

Fitting in all the components, including the capacitor and rechargeable batteries, ended up with a device that displaced about a liter of space. The first ideas, Philips said, resembled milk cartons - definitely not the look that the company was going for.

A design breakthrough came from splitting the components into separate hand and head sections.

The team developed a unit with a slightly tilted neck, purple details, and soft lines, intending to give the finished shape a "futuristic elegance." The team pared down design elements, to reduce visual stimuli and give the appliance a simple appeal. Only two controls are on the unit. One lets the user choose one of five light settings, depending on skin tone. Another is an on/off.

The OEM carried out consumer testing, and says design tests and first shopper studies found that women in the United Kingdom, France, and Spain appreciated the unit's design language and usability. The company said that, without a cord and a base unit, users found it easier to get to the underarm and bikini area. Unlike competitor appliances, Lumea is designed to not need replacement lamps or gels.

The original design launched in 2008. In 2011 the company launched Lumea Precision, with the same body shape but with an extra attachment for upper-lip hair removal. The new unit also has longer battery life and a beauty case, and a darker purple color distinguishes it from the original. The Lumea was named a 2012 iF product design award-winner.

source: Philips


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