Design Charrette produces innovative cleaning ideas

November 12, 2021

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University’s Design School recently held a two-day Design Charrette with Kärcher, a company known for its cleaning technology. The charrette, a short, intensive workshop, generated design ideas for future products and services in a realistic company setting.

The 27 students from industrial design, engineering and business programmes attending the charrette worked in six groups to develop their innovative ideas. Six Kärcher experts and four XJTLU academics also worked with the groups.

The charrette envisioned scenarios in China and Asia set five- to 10-years in the future. The scenarios’ themes were residential environment, work and urban spaces; people and technology; and brand, product and customer.

Automated, flexible robot vacuum

One of the groups exploring ideas for residential environment, work and urban spaces took inspiration from nature, designing a snake-shaped cleaner called Knaker.

(Knacker prototype)

The Knaker robot vacuum’s flexible design would enable it to reach narrow spaces and corners. Through automation and app control, the robot could clean without anyone at home.

“It’s able to roll and extend itself so it can access places that none of the traditional robots can,” says Vicente Feng Fang, one of the group members.

“You can also configure it by yourself to whatever shape you want. We wanted to create something innovative.”

Knacker’s target market would be people who live alone and lead a fast-paced life.

App to customise products

A group exploring brand, product and customer designed an app named Applet for customising products according to style, shape and functions.

(Applet app illustration)

Applet is based on a model called I2B (Ideas to Business), where individuals give feedback about their needs directly to companies.

According to students, using the app is like playing an interactive decorating game. After customisation, customers would receive an AR scene simulation to virtually see the product before buying it.

Students’ skills, views inspiring

“We’re impressed by the students, who have shown a wide range of knowledge, professional skill and language ability within two short days,” says Jennifer Xing from Kärcher.

“We are also really inspired, not only by the products that the students designed but also by the view for the future of our young generation,” she says.

(Jennifer Xing from Kärcher)

Dr Konstantinos Papadikis, Dean of the Design School, says that the Design Charrette is a great way to kick off the School’s interaction with Kärcher.

“We’re hoping to extend this collaboration to create more design ideas that people and society can benefit from,” he says.

Next semester, Kärcher and the School will hold a design competition.

By Yi Qian

Edited by Tamara Kaup

Photos by Yi Qian

November 12, 2021