THE CUDDLINESS AND LOVEFACTOR OF NEW TECH, KITCHENS AND BATHROOMS
Brands are increasingly developing products whose function, usage and appearance easily fit into consumers’ daily life and social surroundings. The space they fill is no longer visible or lost and is therefore no longer an obstacle. Consumers’ sense of spending a large part of their life on a machine or some sort of device fades away, also because new products communicate in a more friendly fashion, work independently and share, display or store information playfully, with or without carefully chosen imperfections and quirks of their own.
Technology products such as the sound docks and headphones by Bang & Olufsen, the Google Home smart hub, Samsung’s Serif and Frame LCD TVs, Dell’s Hybrid desktop computers and Sonos’ cheerfully coloured speakers are becoming more friendly as regards to looks and behaviour. They have gained a high level of sensibility, making us almost fall in love with them. This is reminiscent of Lovemarks, a marketing concept invented and developed by Kevin Roberts CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi. He gave the world a whole new vision of brands. In his international bestseller with the same title, he claimed that ‘Brands are running out of juice’ and that ‘love’ is their only possible saviour. His pioneering work wondered how loyalty could be placed above reason in order to place brand love at the core of it all. Sensuality was one of the three essential characteristics that he suggested for a Lovemark in 2004. Sound, smell, look, touch and taste are further characteristics that ensure the success of present-day blend products such as Conbox’s fan and the Samsung Scoop portable speaker.
Roberts was not the only one. Further back in time, Philips Design published the groundbreaking publication ‘Vision of the Future’ in 1995. In this, Stefano Marzano (CEO) and Khodi Feiz (senior designer) among others, researched how technology products would look and work in ten years time- one year after Kevin’s book, yet to be published. The various results, also presented during the Salone di Mobile in Milaan in 1996, like the ‘emotion containers’ and 'hot badges', were not just innovative in character but already shared the attribute of integration with consumers’ social environment as well as having a level of sensibility and lovefactor.
Over the past few years, we see more and more products that integrate almost seamlessly with user environments and this trend is spreading to kitchens, bathrooms and car interiors. All of these are becoming an extension of our living environment, leading to a more comfortable and even blissful usage. At least that is how we interior fanatics experience the change. We enjoy products that have a perfect fit with our living environment and unique taste. They make our heart beat faster and bring us joy. Clearly we are not alone in this, since the success and growth of these ‘blending products’ suggest that many more will follow in the coming years. And that the current ‘blending storm’ in kitchens and bathrooms will continue to rage for quite a while.