Alfred van Elk: ‘Multinational ABB’s focus in this project was purely on the design aspect. It was about the exterior of a series of so-called group cabinets. The technology and the system’s concept were a given. What needed to be designed was the casing. The installation cabinet houses the electrical control systems for the home. What was unusual here is that there are two intended user groups: the installation engineer and the consumer. The installation engineer is after ease of access, reliability and durability. For the consumer safety, security, clarity of overview, and design are important. However, just as with a boiler, consumers not always buy the product themselves.
ABB is a very innovative multinational with an efficient and flexible approach. The design of this installation cabinet reflects the client’s strength in innovation. In the design process my primary focus was on developing an identity that resonates with ABB’s values: innovative, creative, flexible, safe and durable. In addition there is a strong link with wider society: security and overview through clear organisation and simplicity. The installation cabinet has a durable identity, and to realise that the design challenge was to do something different within the framework of given technology and dimensions.’
The result is a high-end product with a long visual life cycle. That is the result of the understated design, which reflects the company’s core values. When I look at it, I see a modest product that isn’t trendy, and whose design therefore doesn’t attract attention. That kind of attention isn’t necessary. The installation cabinet simply needs to do its job, and not be in your face. The technology is durable and therefore the design needs to be too.
My approach of providing a service in collaboration with ABB resonated, because I was focused on a solution that was feasible. It wasn’t about thinking out of the box. ABB has an open and accessible atmosphere. The entire project was one of close collaboration, from employees to directors. ABB is a pleasant client, because the company is able to realise what it wants to achieve. I was given full confidence. And the result is great because it was a phased project. And each stage fitted with my way of working. At every instance there was room for critical discussion to sharpen the vision. Full of pleasant mutual respect!
This product may not become a classic, as at the end of the day it is simply a box with a couple of buttons. But I am proud of the fact that with minimal means I have made a sympathetic gesture: zero room for manoeuver but still achieving something. Not an easy one, but a nice challenge!’