Electrolux Design shapes the smart home experience

Sara Doltz

”We are on a massive transformational journey right now. All of us who are in this business of creating home appliances are in a race for the hearts of our customers everywhere. This means rethinking our products, the value we provide, and how we use the combination of technology and design to reinvent the home experience. It’s a compelling mission and a journey I want to be a part of,” says Allen Smith, Director of Digital Experience at Electrolux

Being driven by exploring business areas traditionally untouched by the Internet, Allen decided about one year ago to join Electrolux and their ventures. He has had clear ambition in most of his career, and it starts with the question: Where is the Internet absent today?

”As we look around, the Internet has conquered and changed many businesses at its core. First was the disruption of content and media, then personal communication, now automotive is undergoing this disruption. In my career, which spans all of the above, I’ve always searched for ‘dead zones’ or areas that aren’t connected. Right now, that place is our homes. We have connected some small gadgets but nothing has really changed in our lives. To me, it’s inevitable that this transformation will happen.”

An exciting journey

According to Allen, that is where Electrolux is today. The multinational company is right now exploring and evolving their design capacity. They are building cross-disciplinary teams with UX, Service Designers, Front-End developers, and User Researchers. 

“We’re working at the edge of a massive disruption happening in the home where all the appliances we use every day will come to life and become smarter. With ubiquitous connectivity and cloud computing, we can light these products up in completely new and meaningful ways for people. New service opportunities never before feasible can now be realized. How we utilize these technologies as design materials to shape the home experience is our challenge.”

Electrolux is one of the sponsors at From Business to Buttons. The team of designers at Electrolux consist of 180 people worldwide. A lot of them will be attending From Business to Buttons this May. In the Stockholm studio there are 80 designers, involved in everything from strategy to usability testing. But one of the biggest challenges, Allen says, is how the team can create seamless experiences within and in-between every potential touch point:

 “Whether it’s the appliance itself, the cloud, a smartphone or maybe an autonomous solution, we have to have a strategy. Looking at this you need people with different skill-sets tackling these challenges.”

Design skills to tackle strategy

Another great challenge that Electrolux faces is to merge the physical and digital, for which a lot of strategic decisions will be required. Allen elaborates on this:

“95% of Electrolux employees will keep continuing what they’ve always done. But looking at the disruption that is coming it’s up to us, principally in design but also design thinkers in other areas , to tackle these challenges with a different skill-set. Good designers, and even more important, problem solvers, are crucial for our success.”

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