Electrolux Newsroom Asia Pacific

Thoughtful Design: The Vacuum


After 16 years of working with international companies such as Nokia, Sony and Philips, Simon Bradford heads the design of small appliances at Electrolux.Simon's favourite Electrolux appliance, the Ergorapido vacuum cleaner

It’s his job to think of you.

Simon Bradford is Electrolux’s Head of Global Design of Small Appliances at Electrolux, where he oversees the design of small appliances. This includes popular vacuums such as the Ergorapido, UltraSilencer and UltraActive.

Simon Bradford

After 16 years of working with international companies such as Nokia, Sony and Philips, Simon Bradford heads the design of small appliances at Electrolux.

Comparing his job to a music conductor’s, Simon formulates design strategies for products for each region, ensuring every department “knows which tune to play, and playing it all at the same time.”

His cosmopolitan background prepared him well for the international nature of his job. Born in Switzerland to jet setting British parents, Simon grew up speaking English at home and French in school. Excelling in art and drawing but barely scraping through in maths and literature, Simon decided furthering his education in Design at the Art Center College of Design would be a good idea.

Graduating in 1994, he has worked around Europe for the past 16 years with companies such as Philips, Sony, Nokia and now Electrolux. He is currently based in Stockholm, Sweden.

His belief that the biggest upcoming trend for vacuums is sustainability has resulted in the latest line of ecologically friendly vacuums such as the UltraSilencer Green and Jetmaxx Green, which not only save on energy use, but is made with recycled materials.

We catch up with Simon for his thoughts on designing appliances.
Which are your favourite products or designers?

I’ll always be interested in Consumer Electronics and will continue to be amazed at how fast technology is progressing. When I left Sony in 2004, I designed the last 32’’ CRT television for the European market. It weighed approximately 75 kilos and did not fit inside the boot of a car.

Today, a 32’’  TV is under 1 cm thick and weighs under 10 kilos. That was only seven years later, so it’ll be interesting to see what the world will look like in another seven years.
For me, design is always evolving so my “favourites” quickly get replaced by another “favourite”, but some timeless classics do remain as reference points that I go back to from time to time. The first Sony Sports walkman being one of them.
Working at Electrolux and living in Stockholm has enabled me to rediscover the great Scandinavian Design Values of the 50’s, 60’s and the furniture classics this part of the world is so famous for.

What do you consider when designing a vacuum for the Asian markets?

I would of course have to consider things like cleaning habits. Such as how many times do Asians clean and what type of vacuum cleaner do they use?

We would look into how people live. In a flat or a house, how big is their living space, do they have hard carpets or a tatami? We would also take into consideration local ergonomic issues such as hand sizes in Asia that we know are generally smaller than your typical European or American hands.

Of course, local materials and colours would also have to be considered to suit local tastes.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a product designer?

A Product Designer faces many challenges along the road of developing a new product. It starts with designing a product based on true consumer insights and making this product meaningful to a consumer by the time it comes out. It involves being aware of what other products are out there and designing something better and different that stays true to Electrolux’s values and design philosophy.

Lastly, designing and developing a product is a collaborative effort among many functions, all needing to work together despite their different areas of specialisation.

What is your design philosophy when approaching product design?

Four words.

Unify. Think about the range first, then about the product. Consistency across a range increases brand identity and allows for versatility across different regions.

Simplify. Simplify the design to fit our Scandinavian heritage and sustainability considerations.

Clarify. Have a clear and understandable USP (unique selling proposition/ point) which makes this product different from the rest.

Amplify. It is a design responsibility to then highlight or amplify the key USP of the product, making it clear to the consumer what he is buying.

5. Which vacuum do you own and what do you like best about it?

Colour ergo

Simon’s favourite Electrolux appliance, the Ergorapido vacuum cleaner

Ergorapido, because it really answers the need of instant cleaning in a stylish way. It’s also the first vacuum cleaner which should be stored visibly!

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