A few years ago nobody paid much attention to the appearance of smart home elements. Only few people cared about their design and colour. Instead, functionality and durability were the key. Not many companies thought about the colours of their products or whether they would fit the environment in which they were to be located. At FIBARO, from the very beginning, we aimed at a different approach. Our vision was to stand out from the competition also in the context of product design and its colour. That’s why we opted for snow white, which has determined our attitude to colour for a long time…
– said Łukasz Gdyk, Head of Design at FIBARO.
Stand out but do not impose
When we’d started manufacturing our devices almost 8 years ago, white was the dominant and fashionable colour for most interior designers. Since we have always assumed that a good Smart Home should be invisible to the user, we have decided to associate our products with this colour. However, the shade was the most important part. White isn’t always the same, so we have moved from the then common shades of ecru and grey to pure, snowy white. We also wanted to ensure that FIBARO solutions would not be much visible in our customer’s interiors.
This is particularly important when we consider that a properly selected sensor can sometimes consist of even a few elements. Our opinion was that our customers walls could not be a counterchange full of fantasy of colors, so out of respect for individual tastes we decided to be neutral.
Application and environment
The case of Door/Window sensor had encountered a completely different approach in which the device should resemble colours and match the wide range of doors and windows available on the market. Therefore, our team have introduced seven types of colours, so that the device fits as well as possible with the colours of window and door frames. Apart from white (which is still considered to be the most popular one), we also offered graphite and dark walnut version.
The starting point for this device design was the panic button enabling to trigger alarm in various situations of danger including health or even life. Our natural choice was first of all, a very intense firefighter’s red colour. Its colour and use was to communicate to users that their safety has been enhanced as a matter of principle: press me and I will do my job. Development of this solution has led us to look for other colour examples for it as well.
By selecting a set of respective colours, we had to show some awareness and understand the user’s environment. For example, we have introduced greenery to our devices so that users can use it to control appliances that are associated with nature or garden. We devoted the blue colour to the broadly understood element of water – by using it we could trigger lawn watering etc. However, black is strongly associated with elegance, which is why we have dedicated it to devices managing such house elements as wardrobe or office. In addition to black, brown has also found its application in office spaces.
While developing new products, there was a strong need to distinguish individual Buttons due to their use. It turned out that some users, despite many years of experience, still didn’t knew the functions of each button. In a real smart home, where a lot of Buttons are used, it was the colour that became the factor suggesting the use of the particular Button.
FIBARO’s long shot
On the other hand, a device such as Home Center 2 was meant to keep low profile. The context of its use is quite obvious, so our goal was to adapt it to the surroundings of the office, living room, VIP room or wherever it would be located. Top notch devices also have their black versions and we also decided to have one. By giving the Home Center 2 a unique matt black colour, it perfectly suits various devices and arrangements, especially in rooms with a male character, but not exclusively.
Informational function and organic design
When designing new devices, we try to give them an organic shape – the team is strongly inspired by nature. Designers strive to have as few buttons as possible and stand out of more traditional multimedia solutions packed with buttons or indicators. However, we must bear in mind that many devices also have informational functions. One way to signalize certain events is by means of light information.
If there is a certain risk in your home, such as smoke, your FIBARO System will be lit red. Water hazards, even from a washing machine spillage are indicated by a blue colour. These colours are also used in Motion Sensor to inform about the temperature. One of its features enables to set adequate ranges of temperatures e.g. 17-19 or 20-22 degrees and signalize it by one of its colours.
Feature of informing by certain light colour has been used in the devices monitoring energy consumption i.e. Wall Plugs. Energy consumption is indicated from the minimum (cool blue) to the maximum (clear red to purple). Just look at the colour of the backlight to see how much energy your device will consume. The light generated by LEDs means that in many situations we don’t have to bend over to find out the current level of energy consumption. An important thing is that many of them are installed in hard-to-reach places. The colour scale of Wall Plug has been calibrated as in Motion Sensor.
The colours of IoT
Smart home is a home serving its inhabitants. It is intended to encourage work, create a sense of security and serve all of our purposes. We believe that modern solutions are capable to adapt to the user. The right choice of colours makes the FIBARO System extremely intuitive and reduces the time a new user takes to familiarize himself on how to use it to an absolute minimum. The effort of designers, engineers and programmers makes the home an element of a natural environment and colour and design will always play a key role here.