Transcending Form and Function

author Andreas Enslin
interviewed by Tatjana Bartaković


Interviewed in Zagreb on 24 April 2015


Smart-touch technology, as the integral part of the full scale revolution of the ict sector, is the fifth great wave of technological changes from the times of the industrial revolution in 1770, which spreads a whole new paradigm of innovation, gradually and completely changing the concept of life in the 21st century. Conditioned by the changes in the society, urbanization and globalization, the radical development of the ict sector is also the main catalyst for the new models of the information flow and their application in the appliances which surround us. The human reaction to revolutionary changes has always provoked immense enthusiasm and the fear of the unknown, until experience reduced it to the known and daily used. Design has played the role of the central communicator which translates a complex solution into something applicable and practical. One of the most difficult areas of application of new technologies is definitely in the domain of household appliances so we are grateful that we had the opportunity to discuss this topic with the first-class industrial designer Andreas Enslin, director of the Miele Design Centre, who demonstrated the way this revolution influenced the transcendence of design above the discussion of form and function.


Miele’s generation of household appliances 6000 is one of the first in the world that consequently applies the smart-touch technology, which was developed before the appearance of the first iPhone, from the moment when it was neither known nor understandable to anyone. Andreas Enslin discovers the methodology they use to predict possible future scenarios in Miele, as well as the decision they make on the new course of the development. The generation of household appliances 6000 is the materialized once a future paradigm of interactive household appliances and computerised home as the main assistant of its residents whose premise of life is quality, creativity and saving of time and energy.


ORIS: How does the work function in the Miele Design Centre? What is your methodology considering the fact that you manage 40 professionals specialized in different fields?


Andreas Enslin: Already when I was managing my own industrial design company with partners for 23 years, at some point I recognized that things in industrial design would change and that it no longer made sense to design devices. We were one of the first companies in Germany starting some internet activities, because I was always interested in these technologies.


I wanted to apply this change that happened in the industrial design business in the work of the Design Centre Miele. It was not only about educating people, but the challenge was to accordingly change the organization – to be able to do the design work in a new way. So when design itself changes, you have to change the organization as well. Otherwise it’s not possible to have any effects. If we were to always discuss about shapes or about colours and materials, you wouldn’t get any effect for the brand. We are responsible for the design of the brand, that’s a different thing, it’s not the design of a single device. Because we are doing devices on a regular basis, we have to replace things, we are changing little things, so you have a lot of things to do every day, but when you do not know what it is for, how you could design it, what your decision would be, how it would look like, should I do red or green for next year, maybe you will change the colour again every year.