I am rarely inspired by something abstract when designing a new product. Inspiration tends to come in two ways. One is seeing the potential of one product to solve the problems of another. The cordless kettle we designed for Tefal, for example, was inspired by the technology used for the cordless iron. The other process that spurs us on to create something new is observing the problems people have with existing products.
People are extraordinarily good at coping with unsatisfactory products, but the designer’s refusal to accept poor solutions can lead to major breakthroughs in design. For the steam iron, we watched people try to pour water into a hole the size of a postage stamp and noted the defeated acceptance of this difficulty by manufacturers. The reason the opening had never been moved to the best place (the base of the iron) was the difficulty in creating watertight base seals and eliminating air pockets, while allowing enough air in to convert the water into steam.
The challenge was huge, but it was resolved with time, because the client shared our vision of providing tangible advantages to the consumer. This new feature, combined with hugely improved stability through the design of a complementary open heel for the iron, allowed Tefal to launch a radically different product in January.