„We simply try to give the appliances the best that there is.“ – Interview with Bosch Design Director Robert Sachon

For generations, the Bosch name has stood for groundbreaking technology and outstanding quality. Home appliances from Bosch have been committed to these standards for over 80 years now. Consumers around the world associate the Bosch brand with efficient functionality, reliable quality and design that has won awards at an international level. The man behind this design success is Robert Sachon. For these achievements, Robert Sachon & Bosch Home Appliances Design Team were honored as Red Dot: Design Team of the Year 2015.

RD: Mr Sachon, you have been Global Design Director for the Bosch brand for 10 years now. How would you describe your role as head designer?
R. Sachon: The term “head designer” is pretty accurate. It sounds a little like a head chef. Similar to the chef de cuisine, who is in charge of the kitchen crew in fine dining establishments, I lead a team of employees who are responsible for the design of the home appliances. I consider myself as one of those designers who not only manage other people but are also happy to get their own hands dirty in order to set out the design direction. We have lots of different product categories, but at the end of the day the point is of course to shape the face of the Bosch brand in a similar way to a signature or a common design language.

So you are a brand manager as well as a designer?
Most definitely. Unlike other companies, where design is part of technical development, design at Bosch benefits from the fact that it is a key part of brand management. Our design team plays an important role and has a clear remit, as it gets involved with the development of product concepts at a very early stage – long before any thoughts of marketing for the products or of an advertising campaign.

Basing design language on the brand values is one side of the coin. How would you on the other side describe the product’s use and benefit for the consumer?
We pursue a user-centred design approach where consumer monitoring plays a major role. We benefit from the fact that we too are all users of home appliances. We therefore can observe ourselves as well as others. And when observing ourselves, it’s important to always be aware of our blind spot. Also, the consumer perception is evolving. For example, this is where influences from the field of consumer electronics and mobile communication come to bear. The materials used in smartphones and tablets as well as their finishing quality change how consumers perceive products. After all, they hold the devices in their hands day after day, and that also makes them more discerning of quality in other product segments.

As a designer, are you not always destined to have one foot in the present and one in the future?
We simply try to give the appliances the best that there is. And, depending on the product, we have to look far into the future. To this end, we have developed a dedicated process within the company which is known as “Vision Range”. It is roughly comparable with the show cars and concept studies used in the automotive industry. We design an ideal future scenario in order to gear our brand, our products and our design to that scenario from a strategic perspective. This guarantees us a competitive lead, as the content can flow directly into future projects. Maybe that is one of the major advantages of being able to work for one company and with one team on a long-term basis. Because it gives us the freedom to look to the future, quite separately from the specific product.

Being awarded the “Red Dot: Design Team of the Year” title is a very special honour: Product Design to a selected team that has distinguished itself at the highest level through its continuously innovative design achievements.