Angel: Water Softeners

Based on Angel's newly developed product identity, Envary holistically re-designed 2 water softeners from scratch

Envary was commissioned to design Angel’s new family of Water Softeners. Only having previously used generic hardware platforms, which were also assembled by other competitors, the company’s management was poised to leverage Angel’s rebrand with a new product line developed from scratch. Thus the design objectives were closely aligned to Angel’s plans building a unique product family that would iconically differentiate to the rest of the market, and also ‘shake off’ the dated look of the old products’ box-like appearance.

Innovating the 2 water softeners for the Greater China market meant success-critical UX insights had to be identified that would enable user-centric assessment of spatial factors (smaller form factor), product setup (shortening customer servicing times) and user interaction (better legibility of status display). In order to allow for more flexible product placement the UX exploration had to be tackled in consideration of spatial needs in typical use environments (the softeners are placed in basements, on balconies, in kitchens, restrooms, tiny utility rooms, barns or small storage cabinets), of which some environments would significantly challenge users to correctly maintain their softeners.

Requiring periodical refills of salt pellets, most customers expressed uncomplicated maintenance and easier refills as their key value criteria, in particular in respect to the small softeners that would be often placed in grid-locked cabinets under the sink. With the goal of discovering pain-points and opportunities it was success-critical to tap into new ideas empowering users to refill their softeners without having to detach the top enclosure part (like currently available softeners) or even having to manually move the heavy volume.

What we did: The newly developed softener redesign consists of a retractable drawer and funnel system enabling users to pour their pellets from the packaging directly into the container without having to tinker with the complicated removal of cumbersome enclosure parts or lids. Envary developed various drawer as well as other ‘opener’ concepts and built a series of mockups, which it used to simulate various refill methods. Having quickly experienced the key pain-points Envary’s designers opted for the drawer solution, also for the reason that it facilitated more intuitive user interaction. Visible through a seamless window plane the touch interface and LCD display were integrated onto the drawer’s front face, avoiding clunky add-ups on the housing’s top surface, thus also achieving a remarkably different appearance than most competitors. The front-located user interface and status display on the small softener (which is often placed below the kitchen sink) not just provides better visibility (salt level, pressure), yet also prevents the need to pull the tens of kg heavyweight out of the cabinet every time one needs to refill.

Envary also helped to refresh the softener’s user interface, redesigning the graphical presentation of UI information including text, icons and progress status. The 2 softeners were launched in 2018.

  • CMF
  • Product design
  • Strategy
  • UX