Electrolux Newsroom Asia Pacific

An interview with Kelley Cheng


Kelley Cheng

Electrolux has a long and distinguished heritage when it comes to designing household appliances. Since 1918, when Electrolux was first formed, “Thoughtful Design” has always been central to the company’s design approach.

Kel headshot2010

Insight, functionality, usability, great aesthetics and sustainability have become akin to a creed that all Electrolux designers subscribe to. Why? Because we believe in providing consumers with the total user experience.

Kelley Cheng isn’t Swedish or from Electrolux, but she IS a who’s who in the design world in Singapore. When she talks, people listen, quite literally.

A regular speaker at international design conferences as well as a guest judge for local and international design competitions, Kelley sits atop the design world as not only Editor-in-Chief of Singapore Architect Magazine, but also as advisor to many of the educational and design institutions in Singapore.

So when Kelley agreed to have a chat with us on design and her thoughts on our design philosophy and products, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  .

How does Industrial Design differ from the rest of the design faculties?

I guess one key thing about Industrial Design is that it’s a combination of design and technology. It’s closer to “inventing” than “designing”. It’s not just about making things beautiful; they have to be practical as well.

Are there any designers or design movements that you draw inspiration from?

James Dyson is the modern day “inventor/designer” that I like.  Conventionally “inventors” merely “invent” without taking into account the aesthetics, but Dyson combines successful design with invention/technology. For design movements, one of the most inspiring and important movements of course is the Modern Movement/Modernism. It has really changed the world – from literature, to art, to music, to architecture. It was a whole cultural/artistic revolution that really made the world what it is today.

What are your thoughts on Electrolux’s own design philosophy – Thoughtful Design?

I think that Electrolux has a long-standing reputation as a brand of integrity and reliability.  And in terms of its brand value to consumers, I think it has been consistently good. In recent years, Electrolux has also embraced design and sustainability as part of its brand principles, and so far, I think the products have been looking good.

What made you go into design in the first place?

It comes from the love of art, which translates into the love of design. Art and design, after all, are always closely related, and both are as much about original ideas and original creations. Just that in design you always work with a client, but with art, you can do whatever you want.

Where do you see Industrial design heading? What do you think will be the future trends?

I think the direction that Electrolux is heading – embracing more aesthetics and more sustainability in their products is certainly the way to go and I’m sure many brands will be heading in that direction in the next few years. However, for brands to be able to move “a level up” to embrace these, they first have to have solid products. It’s really no point having beauty and no brains, so to speak.

Homes all around the world are getting smaller, how will this affect industrial design?

Of course all products will have to be designed smaller and be easily dismantled!

Ever designed any home appliances?

No. I wish I could!

Any home appliance you can’t live without?

Air-conditioner. It’s so hot in Singapore.

Any Electrolux appliances that catch your eye? Why?

I use an Ergorapido 2in1 at home right now because it’s not as bulky as a conventional vacuum cleaner., I think a lot of Electrolux vacuum cleaners look good.

Any advice for would-be designers?

Be patient. Just keep doing what you do. Try to better yourself in everything. Don’t hang on to past achievements. Always be ready for a new design challenge. It takes many years to polish up a form of art, or design, to be precise. Nobody is famous overnight. So if you are good at what you do, when you do enough of it, someday someone will appreciate you and your design.

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