Housewares Design Awards

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2006 Best in Category: Floor Care Electrics

Electrolux Home Care Products, Inc.

Electrolux Oxygen3 Upright

The Electrolux Oxygen 3 upright, winner of this year’s Housewares Design Award for floor care electrics is the product of CAD design, which in this case means Consumer Aided Design.

Following a process the company implemented over the past two years, Electrolux conducted focus groups and in-home ethnographic studies to see how consumers used their vacuums and to ascertain the kinds of problems consumers encountered when cleaning their homes.

“We look at how consumers interact with the product,” said Randy Sandlin, director of industrial design at Electrolux Home Products, marketers of Electrolux and Eureka branded floor care products. “Are they bending down to adjust the height? Are they bending down to turn the brush roll on and off?”

The answer in both cases is most often no, said Sandlin.

“What we found is a lot of people just pick one setting and vacuum everything that way,” he said.

To address that Electrolux took the controls for both the brush roll and height adjustment and moved them to the unit’s handle, where consumers could make any necessary changes with a flick of a finger.

The company also attempted to look at the vacuum cleaner in new ways, or more literally, from new angles. “Traditionally, if you look at an upright from the front it looks beautiful,” said Sandlin. “When you go around to the back however, there are hoses sticking out and tools hanging off; and when the consumer gets it home the thing they look at most is the back.”

In designing the Oxygen upright however, Electrolux employed a process of 360-degree design, looking at the product from all angels and attempting to employ the same concern for aesthetics and design features no matter which side the consumer might view. On-board tools are stored behind a closeable door; the dirt path is hidden within the walls of the unit’s sleek Cayenne Silk-colored body.

That same emphasis on aesthetics was employed to the unit’s front panels, in this case with a slight twist intended to use the “look” of the product to reinforce a key performance feature. The front panel of the Electrolux Oxygen 3 upright contains a large mesh panel that in some ways resembles a high-tech stereo speaker or in this case an air filter. “With that big fabric front you get a sense of diffusion,” said Sandlin. “And it draws the consumers eye to one of the main product features, the microseal filtration.”

As its name implies the Oxygen 3 upright is designed to keep not only dirt, but also dirty air inside the cleaner, leaving fresh allergen-free air in the room after it’s clean.

All these elements, function, form, color were balanced in the Oxygen 3 upright, yet always with an eye toward the end-user. The process spanned two continents with industrial designers from Electrolux’ U.S. operations traveling for brainstorming sessions with their counterparts at the company headquarters in Sweden. It also included collaboration between myriad in-house departments from product development to sales; from engineering to marketing. “There was a lot of brainstorming that went into this,” said Sandlin.

The result is a product the company now markets with pride and one that has received well-deserved recognition in the form of a Housewares Design Award.

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