Please tell us about yourself

Next time you walk into a household appliance showroom, know that the Whirlpool washing machine or refrigerator there has been designed by a team of experts led by a Malayali.

Designed for tight spaces in Indian homes, it is fitted with big wheels so that the consumer  can easily move the machine around making it more robust and stable. A handle makes it possible for a homemaker move the machine around without any help. The top of the machine can be used as a work surface for sorting, treating and folding.

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Indians have long believed that hand washing is more thorough than machines, and Whirlpool India patented a technology that replicates the classic 1-2,1-2 handwash movement in the agitator design.

Electric supply in India is often unreliable so an auto-restart  feature ensures that the machine starts the wash process from the same point where it was before a power cut.

Whirlpool Ace is a unique line of semi-automatic clothes washers sold in India.

Design was a key element of this product’s delivery, according to Hari Nair, industrial design director, Whirlpool Corporation. “Whirlpool Ace has smooth edges and a curved body that provides easy access. The unique top surface enables the consumer to sort, stack and carry dry clothes, redefining the usage experience of the washing machine. It also comes with a unique handle and large wheels for easy mobility.”

What did you study?

Hari Nair, with a mechanical engineering degree from Kerala University, did his Masters degree in Industrial and Product Design studies from IIT Mumbai and Syracuse University, US, is the global director of Whirlpool Global Consumer Design.

Tell us about your work

“If we can understand the Asian aesthetic sense, mainly India and China, we can understand the rest of the world.

Whirlpool has developed a common visual brand language in Asia after studying the region’s ethnography,” said Hari Nair, in an interview with the Express .

“Ethnography adds a local flavour to our products. We launched a series of bright coloured washing machines and refrigerators in South- India (Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) after studying the regional aesthetic sense.

 South-Indians have a liking for vibrant colours,” he added.

Hari Nair said they conduct a three-level analysis before designing a product, stressing on the consumers’ emerging needs and changing lifestyle.

How does your work benefit the society?

“(For example) When a refrigerator is launched in China, we provide more freezer space as the Chinese stock more meat compared with Indians,” he said.

 “Now people are demanding, both in terms of utility and style. Our design centres strive to meet the consumers’ expectations and each product is designed to meet their requirements,” he said.

“Above all, the products for the Indian market are designed to appeal emotionally to consumers. In the US and Europe consumers rate a product only on the utilitarian aspect. But in India, consumers tend to develop an emotional attachment to the products they own,” he said.