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Martin Stadler on the human factor and bridging technology and design

Stadler Form embodies everything we’ve come to know and love about Swiss design – sleek, stylish, practical – beginning with its very first product back in 1999, a humidifier called Fred. The home appliance brand launches in New Zealand (its 40th country) this month, and founder Martin Stadler sat down for a quick chat with Idealog.

What is your design philosophy?

We’re trying to make household products beautiful so that we want to live with them, so that they look nice and fit nicely into our environment.

What’s something people don’t know or don’t understand about what you do?

One thing they maybe don’t understand is that it’s so difficult. We have cool and crazy and good designs on one hand and on the other we have technology, which sometimes has its limits, sometimes it has its own rules. Probably that’s one of the biggest challenges in my job, to combine these … I try to be the bridge between without destroying the design, without making it too technological but also respecting the technology because otherwise the product won’t work.

[In] the first maybe 5-7 years we focused on design only … but now we are doing more and more in innovation of technology … Combining technology and design is really the crown of product development.

How do you approach a new project?

Very often it originates from a known desire or a known need. For example when I started the company … the air was very dry, it was winter, and I was needing a humidifier. I went to town and I couldn’t find one. So I said ‘okay, I’m going to make one’ and I developed our first product and it was a big success.

When we started to work on Albert the dehumidifier, the dehumidifier market was not really into design because nobody really cared. I was using our dehumidifier every day and I didn’t like the way I had to operate it and I didn’t like the design. So that pushed me really into developing one.

Also it comes from our clients, our distributors …  so often I am inspired by my travels and my clients.

What is the best part about your job?

Creating things and making products better. It’s always a subjective feeling whether something’s nice or not, everyone has different taste, but it’s really one of the motivations for me, to make products look good, to make the technology better.

What are you working on next?

We have many projects at the moment. One thing is … we have an aroma diffuser, a small one, that sells very well. This aroma diffuser has a cable on it, most aroma diffusers need that because they use a lot of energy. We came up with an idea to make it battery operated, with rechargeable batteries, so that’s what we are working on right now. This will be launched this year. There’s also a new technology that we are using to bring the aroma into the room.

Can you choose a favourite product?

I would say it’s Albert. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved here not only because the product is very successful for us – of course this is also one reason that’s very important, without success there are no future products – but we also got a red dot design award for that product and the feedback we get from people using it is very good … it has also some very nice features that are unique, that nobody really thought of before, I don’t know why, but for example, it has a 24-hour timer.

Why do you give your products human names?

Of course we could call them XTEC5000 or something but …  to give them a little bit more emotion and personality we came up with the idea to give them names. They are not machines, they are with us in our households, they live with us, so they are little companions, we say, they are not only products. It really works. People are talking differently about our products. For example one lady said ‘In my bedroom I only allow two men. One is Albert and the other one is my husband’. I really like that one … So it’s an emotion thing and it works very well, gives a different level to the product.

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