Influential factors for greater appeal of products and spaces
Humans spend every hour of every day of every year in one environment or another―from homes to offices to commercial or public facilities. How comfortable or appealing those spaces are depends on a variety of factors including the size, feeling of openness, brightness, and functionality.
Naturally, the products that make up such spaces are also an important factor. With televisions in homes, computers in offices, and benches in train stations, numerous products exist wherever we go. And for each of these products comes questions: How well does the product blend with the space? Does the product help people? Does the product offer unique appeal and value? With these questions in mind, we set out to create spaces such as offices and commercial/public facilities by thinking about the products used there.
Devices that respond to "diversity"
First and foremost, we must recognize the most important factor with public-use products: "Diversity." Take, as an example, a traffic light. Everyone is able to recognize one on sight, and "red means stop, green means go" is universal knowledge. Being able to use this device unconsciously and impartially is an essential factor. In the same way, products that will be operated by an unspecified number of users must be easy to use for everyone.
When it comes to commercial air-conditioning products for use in offices and commercial/public facilities, our goal is to create operability that surpasses similar products used at home. As an example, to ensure that any user is able to intuitively understand how to operate a commercial air conditioner, we adopted pictograms in the design of the remote control, allowing for unconscious operation by the user. It is these fine-tuned ingenuities that allow us to properly address and respond to the "diversity" of users.
Creating a comfortable space with an indefinite number of occupants
The second most important factor with public-use products is "Comfort." In this case, "comfort" applies not only to how easily a public-use product is understood and how easy it is to use but also how well the product supports and produces comfort for the people in that space.
Increased comfort is especially important in offices and other locations where occupants stay for long periods. For air conditioners that make up the core element in creating a comfortable space, there are naturally a wide variety of aspects to consider. In general, 25°C and 45% to 60% humidity is considered the standard level of comfort, but there are considerable differences between each person's preference. As the diversity of those gathering in a space increases, so does the difficulty in finding an optimal temperature setting. Thus it becomes necessary to adopt functions that can respond flexibly according to the composition and purpose of the space and to the activity trends of the occupants.
Daikin's cassette-type air conditioners for commercial use are designed so that air blows from all directions with the ability to configure settings independently for each direction. Our units are also equipped with sensors that are able to detect where people are in order to reduce airflow accordingly, and even when using multiple units, airflow settings can be configured per unit. Our focus on a comfortable airflow function―which is considered the basic function of any air conditioner―addresses one of the most common issues with air conditioners where air hits only certain places, making a limited number of people feel hot or cold. This allows us to create a more comfortable air-conditioned space.
Developing a unique design for the general public
Another factor worthy of mentioning here is "Design." Today, the importance and value of designs for shopping centers and similar facilities are well established, while designs for public-use products are still being improved. Even so, there are still many unreliable inorganic materials and designs, resulting in varied expectations from users and space design experts when it comes to product designs.
On the other hand, compared with consumer products, the higher standards for public-use products mean such products must offer better costs, durability, maintainability, and various other factors. Rather than superficial factors, then, products must be created with a rational design that better captures the essence of the product itself.
Nevertheless, the design used for public-use air conditioners is also one of the leading characteristics in creating a comfortable space, as analyzing a space based on attractiveness or fashionableness opens the door to complaints that a design is an eyesore and hindrance to the design of the space itself. For this reason, a design with suppressed pretenses focusing instead on playing only a supporting role is important, such as flat-panel and integrated units. To put it simply, our goal is to create a design that both harmonizes with a space and makes the space more enjoyable.
Publicly used products require new perspectives
As described above, public-use products face various restrictions, but there are always innovative ideas to develop within the boundaries with new improvements to be discovered. The ability to express these ideas and improvements within those boundaries is the power of design, and bringing that power to life is the job of the designer. At Daikin, rather than being bound by a set idea that says commercial air conditioner designs should be a specific way, we believe working with a new perspective is important.
Improving the quality of public-use products through both function and design leads not only to enriched spaces but also improved lives, society, and environment. Instead of approaching product creation and space creation as separate ideas, we will begin to see both being considered―and designed―as a single entity. And it will be through these efforts that we will begin to see exciting innovations.