Choosing the right elevator design involves more than understanding a building’s architecture, says Anne Stenros. Local tastes play an equally important role.
Elevator rides tend to be a short-lived experience. You enter, go up or down, and step out. Yet while the trip is brief, these functional transport vehicles have a significant role in the operation of any multi-story structure.For Anne Stenros, KONE’s vice president of design, elevators operate as important transitional points from one space to another. You were doing one thing, and next you enter a space where you do something else. While the elevator car that you enter is not large, the sensory experience the building is conveying should continue.Stenros has spent the better part of the last three years thinking about the seemingly fleeting seconds we spend each day riding up and down. She says the interior of elevators need to work as part of a greater package that ties the entire building together. It is the bow on the ribbon, so to speak. “The lighting, wall components and colors must work in unison with the other building materials and, most importantly, with the architecture of the building,” explains Stenros.To break down the near infinite design possibilities in elevators, Stenros, along with other members of her team, came up with the innovative KONE Design collection. “It consists of interiors that match any kind of ambiance,” she explains.
Catering to different cultures
Local tastes also play an important role in deciding the proper elevator design. The KONE design team customizes color and pattern choices to make sure that the available selection appeals to customers in each market. “The Chinese, for example, attach a great deal of symbolism to the color red, which to them means riches and good luck. Patterns are also important in Asian cultures, while solids work more for Western societies,” says Stenros. She recounts working on a residential property in India not long ago. “The sun is an important element in the country, but when I entered the elevator it was so dark. I thought, ‘How can we bring the sun inside?’ The answer was to provide a sun-colored panel inside the elevator car. “When I saw it in a mock-up at our Chennai research and development center, I thought: ‘Yes, that is it!’ While I don’t think all residents realize this was the intent, I’m sure the panel adds just the right touch that the customer was looking for.”Stenros sees increased focus on customization leading elevator design into the future. “Design ideas will be based on modularity, but will allow personalized mixing and matching. Elements from different cultures will also come together. Look for form language that is typical in Asian cultures to blend with Scandinavian sensibilities. Co-creation and craftsmanship will also increase in the future,” she feels.
Creating the right ambiance
Along with making sure that the designs fit the local culture, it is also vital that they form a pattern that is signature to KONE. “It’s important that our concepts fit local tastes yet form a visual experience that is unique to our company. We want riders to know they are inside a KONE elevator, without looking at the logo,” she says.Stenros has recently worked on developing a new asymmetric design pattern to KONE’s car interiors using eco-friendly materials. “Added together with energy-saving LED lighting, these can allow buildings to operate in a more sustainable way. Environmental awareness is a strong element in design culture that is important to our times.”In deciding future trends, Stenros, who has a doctorate in architecture, draws inspiration from upcoming fashions and modern classics. The idea of using stripes in clothes helped spark an idea. “From this concept, we created a car whose panels are a combination of mirror polished stainless steel and mat finished stainless steel. The effect draws attention to bold stripes in a way that is both new, yet timeless.”The architect works at KONE’s corporate offices just outside of Finland’s capital city of Helsinki. Every now and again she travels to the company’s research and development center in the city of Hyvinkää to see a mock-up of an upcoming design model. Her work is subtle, and she explains that it has to appeal to many tastes. While she does not expect passengers to always notice the message behind the design elements, she does think, done properly, they will have an impact on the user’s experience while inside an elevator.So, is design all about aesthetics? “No,” corrects Stenros. “It’s about finding the right ambiance.” In the same way a building’s exterior or lobby attracts our attention, this same good vibe should continue with the elevators.
“Design in elevators boils down to creating a positive feeling for the person riding inside. It’s really about finding the perfect way for people to feel an attachment to a product that plays to their emotions.”
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