MAKING A PREMIUM PLAY
If you’re the kind of person who installs remote-controlled blinds in your living space, it’s fair to say you’re someone who values the experience of everyday things. Blind-maker Levolor’s automatic product was considered “premium,” but the look, feel and functionality of the technology homeowners most interacted with – the remote – left much to be desired. THRIVE’s Product Development team was asked to help evolve and create a unique Industrial Design identity. We began with a list of wants: something brand-aligned, premium-feeling and with a bit of design oomph to complement a modern home. Levolor, however, had some needs as well: Time was tight and the company didn’t want to have to re-qualify the device with the FCC, so the base device had to remain the same.
Start From the Inside Out
While we couldn’t change the circuit board of the existing remote, our team knew that we could creatively re-arrange and re-think other items within the device. We began by moving the layout of the buttons to be easier to manipulate by a wider variety of hand sizes. Next, we considered ergonomics, moving the battery to the mid-back of the device. This created a hand-friendly “hump” to grasp and also helped reinforce other brand-focused elements, like a feeling of solidity and substance, which read intuitively as higher quality. Three choices were presented, spanning themes from tabletop work of art to nearly invisible when not in use, and one – a sleek, organically curved option that melded friendly, familiar home-device design with a sense of elegant invisibility – was ultimately chosen.
Consider the cues that read “premium”
On a table, the new Levolor remote presents itself as a floating plane, inviting interaction and facilitating greater purchase to grasping hands. Once in the hand, its curved backside rests solidly in the palm. (Our research revealed that when it comes to remotes, thinner isn’t better…it’s cheap.) Three original buttons became six to offer clearer, no-look usage. We also looked beyond the needs of the end-user to those of service technicians tasked with programming the remote and setting up the blind system in homes. Previous iterations required techs to remove integral parts to reach setting buttons. Our new version offers easy access for quick service and setup.
Engineer a little delight
Outside of strictly functional aspects, we also heavily considered the little things that can make a device you see laying around in your field of view every day either just another piece of clutter or a delight to encounter. Knowing our audience as both detail-oriented and experience-focused when it came to their homes, we added a few aesthetic extras. The original remote’s LED displays weren’t shielded well from one another, creating shadows and light bleed. We tuned up the experience, creating softly fading transitions when buttons are pushed. Finally, when in use, the remote’s form was art-object like; made to be celebrated. But when not in use, we wanted it to recede into a room’s décor. To do it, the remote’s mount consists of a simple, small magnet that is nearly invisible when on the wall alone, and suspends the remote simply, without a visible basket or container, when hanging around waiting to open blinds and let the sunshine in.