Here's A Smarter Way To Design Your Kitchen
It’s estimated that one in every two households in Switzerland owns at least one V-Zug appliance; over four million of these machines are currently in use in the country. Headquartered in the town and canton of Zug since 1913, the family-owned company was manufacturing galvanised tinware before it ventured into the production of hand-operated washing machines in the 1920s; the V in its name stands for verzinkerei, the German word for galvanising plant.
The Swiss industrial manufacturer started expanding its reach beyond the Swiss borders from 2008 and in Singapore, its flagship showroom opened recently at Scotts Square. Even though it has over a century of history documenting top-notched Swiss engineering and an innovative spirit, the brand does not rest on its laurels; it continually seeks to improve and refine the functions and the design of its appliances.
The way we live, work and wash changes all the time, so it’s important for us to analyse how people will do these activities to solve problems for them in the future
“The way we live, work and wash changes all the time, so it’s important for us to analyse how people will do these activities to solve problems for them in the future,” shares V-Zug user experience designer Julia Borger, who was visiting Singapore with head of design Martin von Freeden. “Our products are not only tested internally, but we also film and observe how customers react to the products.”
The design process for each product begins with preliminary sketches, moodboards as well as research into the practical needs of homeowners and professional chefs. “We try to identify what their needs are and how we can address needs such as safety and cooking competence, and how we can support that with our product,” shares Borger. “Sometimes new innovations and ideas result from that.”
(Related: 8 Kitchen Trends To Give Your Home A New Culinary Edge)
Take for instance the Full Flex induction hob, which was conceptualised after the team observed chefs working with cooking pans in the kitchen. “We noticed chefs moving the cooking pans back and forth for the dish to cool down or keep warm,” explains Borger.
“So we implemented a function in the Full Flex that you can activate to regulate the heat. When the pan is at the front of the induction hob it’s at high heat and whenever it’s at the back the hob instantly adjusts the heat to the ‘keep warmth’ level.” The induction hob comprises 48 inductors that can automatically detect and monitor the position and size of each pan such that heat is safely generated only where it is needed.
Another recent innovation is the gas hob—specially created for the Asian market and launched this year. It features touchscreen controls and a sleek design that complements the induction hobs. “It’s gas cooking reinvented and when we use it, it feels so magical,” says Borger. “When you touch the touchscreen controls, the flame instantly reacts and you can see the flames rising or getting smaller.” Von Freeden quips: “It’s like playing with fire.”
With more homeowners paying attention to the design of their kitchens, each appliance has been designed to co-exist seamlessly with the rest of the interior. “The design is pure, elegant and luxurious—it helps to integrate our products into interior design concepts and interior architecture,” explains Von Freeden. “We’re very obsessive with these details and the materials used, which makes the difference when it comes to the quality of design.”
This can include numerous tests and research into every detail, be it the fine, almost imperceptible pattern imprinted on the mirrored finishes of V-Zug appliances.
The ovens feature sleek and discreet silhouettes to fit seamlessly into any modern space; a retractable handle option conceals the handle when the appliance is switched off. Laundry appliances such as the Adora washing machine and the Refresh-Butler fabric care system are designed with streamlined silhouettes and can be integrated into the cabinetry such that it’s out of sight when not in use.
Each product is carefully interfaced and ergonomic—these appliances have been created for ease of use and are a joy to handle. “We always try to make the interface as simple as possible but still delivering the functionality that our products offer,” shares Borger. Playful symbols illustrate the different cooking modes on the oven’s interactive displays; buttons are kept to a minimum, and each oven is designed to gently light up once it is switched on.
We always try to make the interface as simple as possible but still delivering the functionality that our products offer
At the core of V-Zug’s revolutionary technology lies its ability to harness the power of steam in myriad ways, whether to wash, cook or bake. “We use this steam technology in many of our appliances and we use it to enhance every product that we have,” shares Borger.
An example includes the latest Adora washing machine, which features an anti-crease program to prevent clothing from wrinkling during the cleaning process. Its steam ovens offer a variety of cooking modes ranging from Vacuisine (V-Zug’s moniker for its sous vide function), soft roasting, steaming to baking; processes that can also be combined using the Combi-steam MSLQ oven. The ovens can be operated with pre-programmed recipe steps that monitor and regulate the temperature to perfect the texture and consistency for dishes such as roast chicken, salmon confit and even delicate souffle.
(Related: V-Zug Brings Swiss-Made Precision Into Your Home)
At the same time, steam has to be handled with care to prevent corrosion and other damaging effects of moisture. Using Swiss precision engineering, V-Zug has developed stainless steel isolation doors that keep moisture away from the electronic components within laundry appliances such as the Refresh-Butler, along with an additional protective layer of painted stainless steel.
V-Zug appliances also feature intelligent software that monitors and regulates the usage of water to prevent it from interfering with the electronics. The smart system monitors and displays the consumption of water and electricity in each appliance, so that these products can be used in a more sustainable way.
The eco-conscious ethos extends to every aspect of the company from its factory production to the design of each product. Chief among the Swiss brand’s commitments to sustainability include plans for carbon-neutral production by 2020, through using renewable energy and energy-efficient manufacturing processes. “We try to use materials that have less weight and to minimise use of materials such as plastics and glass,” says Von Freeden.
The firm also strives to reduce the use of cleaning chemicals by making its appliances easy to clean. This includes mirrored glass finishes for ovens so that these can be wiped down with water, as well as the minimalist, purist design of its appliances that rids unnecessary corners or additional parts that require cleaning.
“Each time we create a product we take a look at how we can enable the user to clean the appliance without using chemicals or by using less washing powder,” adds Borger.
(Related: Franklin Tang of Philip Tang & Sons Is Making Homes Smart)
Presently, the firm continues to look into more ways to make technology a harmonious part of the home. “We want to make the experience more natural, intuitive and not so technical and to adapt furniture, ergonomics, lighting and everything else according to your personal preferences,” explains Von Freeden. Borger agrees: “We try to deliver the most positive and enriching experience for our users to enhance their lives and solve daily problems by creating simple and aesthetically beautiful products.”
By the end of 2019, the Swiss brand will introduce app-enabled controls for its home appliances in Singapore. The Home app by V-Zug will feature localised recipes as well as image recognition technology that can identify ingredients photographed and suggest recipes that feature these ingredients.
“We put emotions at the forefront of our design; the joy of use is an important part of the user experience to awaken your passion to cook”
“With a broad range of functionalities that our ovens offer, everyone can cook delicious dishes,” says Borger. “It also gives you the opportunity to gain new skills as a better cook.” It’s an approach that celebrates the joy of cooking: “We put emotions at the forefront of our design; the joy of use is an important part of the user experience to awaken your passion to cook.”
(Related: V-Zug Brings Swiss-Made Precision Into Your Home)
This story was adapted from Singapore Tatler Homes Dec 2018