There is something deeply evocative about ‘classic’ kitchenware. It conjures up memories of cooking with grandparents, and clichéd historic advertising campaigns promoting all manner of gadgets spanning a century.
Yet despite the homely images of dated kitchens and beaming apron-wearing housewives that come to mind, the Pyrex brand and technology remains a marvel of twentieth-century design and chemical engineering.
Combining silica and boron trioxide, the borosilicate glassware was originally developed for use in heat-resistant railway lanterns at the turn of the century. A number of years later, this innovation was repurposed under the famous Pyrex® label, which adopted borosilicate as the basis of a shock-resistant, high temperature ovenware range.
Now, one hundred years on, Pyrex® glass can still be found in kitchens and laboratories all over the world. And yet, despite being the market leader in clear glass ovenware, Pyrex® brand stakeholders recognize the ongoing importance of driving innovation and ensuring the product remains an indispensable part of the modern home.
To maintain their leadership, International Cookware – exclusive licensee of Pyrex across Europe– approached design consultancy, Cambridge Design Partnership to help research and develop a new range of twenty-first century Pyrex® glassware.
This new development aimed to reaffirm the brand’s position as a market leader by delivering improved usability features, a perception of modernity, and an aspirational design for the new generation of Pyrex® customers of all ages. At the same time however, the new range would need to maintain the functionality and flexibility that has come to define the Pyrex® brand over the last century.
In order to achieve this goal, Cambridge Design Partnership undertook a detailed research program, designed to understand what it was that made previous Pyrex® kitchenware such a success. Key to this process was the firm’s dedicated Front End Consumer Research and Industrial Design teams, who conducted immersive in-home observation in order to gain insight into the current challenges faced by users of a wide range of kitchen cooking and serving products.
The results of this research uncovered common difficulties surrounding the handling of hot kitchenware, the inconvenience of shallow dishes, and potential difficulties of cleaning. In addition to these functional requirements, many of those interviewed also flagged the need for a more aspirational aesthetic, highlighting increasing emphasis on the importance of an “oven-to-table” experience.
Given the complexities of borosilicate production, Cambridge Design Partnership collaborated closely with the International Cookware marketing and engineering teams throughout development of Optimum, liaising with the European factory in France to help ensure alignment between the new design and the firm’s existing mass-production techniques. This process was particularly important given the fine line that Cambridge Design Partnership had to walk between respecting the 100-year-old brand’s values, and helping to bring the new range into the 21st century.
Taking the design and production complexities into account, the new Optimum core concept was translated through detailed 3D CAD modeling into a full retail range of sizes and shapes. Detailed geometry and surface design allowed for fine tuning of curvature, draft, and material thickness throughout the range, which was vital to ensure consistent high quality at mass production volume, mold life, commercially viable material shot weight, and minimize risk of glass imperfections.
The resulting ‘Optimum’ range provides a shock resistant, strain resistant and dishwasher safe product, proven to withstand temperatures as low as -40°C and as high as +300°C. In pre-launch consumer tests the Optimum range received a 97% approval rating from consumers, who felt that the contemporary design, shape and depth of the product made it superior to previous designs.
The celebratory Optimum range was launched as part of Pyrex’s Centenary event at Ambiente 2015 – one of Europe’s leading consumer trade fairs. For further information on the new Optimum range, visit http://www.cambridge-design.co.uk
Filed Under: Rapid prototyping